During a heated exchange on Fox & Friends, a former deputy campaign manager for President Donald Trump told a black guest on the show that he was "out of [his] cotton-picking mind."
David Bossie, Trump's former deputy campaign manager, and Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist, were having a debate on Sunday morning moderated by Fox News host Ed Henry about the imagery and rhetoric used during the immigration debate.
"Michael Hayden posted a picture of Auschwitz," Bossie said, referencing a photo posted by the former NSA and CIA director to critique the White House policy that separated families at the border.
"Yeah, that liberal Michael Hayden. Yeah, that screaming liberal Michael Hayden,” Payne said in response.
Then Bossie told Hayden: “You’re out of your cotton-picking mind.”
“'Cotton-picking mind'?” Payne responded in shock. “Brother, let me tell you something. Let me tell you something. I've got some relatives who picked cotton and I’m not going to sit back and let you attack me on TV like that,” Payne said.
Henry, the Fox News host, originally tried to defuse the situation by saying, "He said, 'You're out of your mind.' Gentlemen, we're going to leave it right there."
Later on the show, Henry said that "Fox News and this show, myself — we don’t agree with that particular phrase." But Henry also said he wasn't sure what Bossie meant by the phrase, and added that he has known Bossie for a long time and will let him "address exactly what he said."
"It was obviously offensive, but these debates get fiery. That's unfortunate. We like to have honest and spirited debates but not phrases like that, obviously. So I will just leave it at that," Henry said.
In a brief statement, a Fox News spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, "David Bossie’s comments today were deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate. His remarks do not reflect the sentiments of FOX News and we do not in any way condone them."
On Sunday afternoon, a few hours after the segment aired, Bossie tweeted an apology to Payne, Fox, and its viewers. "During a heated segment on Fox & Friends today, I should have chosen my words more carefully and never used the offensive phrase that I did," Bossie wrote.