Conservative firebrand Laura Ingraham sounded off on a number of incendiary topics Thursday at the annual meeting of Louisiana’s largest business group, which has since distanced itself from some of her remarks.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a conglomeration of more than 2,000 Bayou State businesses, invited Ingraham as its keynote speaker. The syndicated radio show host and headliner of Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” touched on strong support for deregulation and a general antipathy toward business-stifling trial lawyers, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
But the speech was also riddled with polarizing statements on just about every controversy that’s made headlines in the past year.
She criticized the decision by the city of New Orleans to take down statues of Confederate generals and said Robert E. Lee was an honorable man, the Times-Picayune reported. She poked fun of the #MeToo campaign against workplace sexual harassment. And she also targeted, in no particular order, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, the FBI, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former president George W. Bush and anyone who had supported Hillary Clinton.
As she spoke, according to the newspaper, the logos of two of the state’s largest employers, including Dow Chemical and Cajun Industries, were projected onto the walls of the auditorium.
At the end of the speech, two dozen people jumped up to give Ingraham a standing ovation; more than 100 stayed glued to their seats.
Ingraham could not be reached for comment Saturday.
The former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, who had a FARRGHT license plate in college, has been saying incendiary things for most of her life.
What remains a mystery is whether organizers for the LABI thought things would go any other way. The group did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post, but it was already carrying out damage control.
“Ingraham . . . expressed her views on several national social and political issues, some of which are not reflective of the opinions held by the diverse membership of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry,” the association said in a statement released shortly after Ingraham spoke.
Ben Carson headlined the event in 2015.
Ingraham is a high-profile supporter of President Trump who had a speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
She, Ann Coulter and Kellyanne Conway became frequent anti-Bill Clinton commentators during the ascendancies of cable news in the late 1990s. Collectively, they were known as the “pundettes.”
Two decades later, Ingraham was touted as a potential replacement for Sean Spicer as White House press secretary.
She told The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson in October that she doesn’t care who she offends:
In 2005, she used this megaphone to help sink President George W. Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court by asserting nonstop that the White House counsel was insufficiently conservative. During the Obama years, she railed against most everything he did. And, of course, she was an early proponent of Trumpism — an anti-immigration, tax-slashing America Firster who opposed big trade deals and international organizations such as the United Nations because, as she proclaims in her new book, they “take power out of the hands of the voters and give it to a faraway and often hostile global elite.”
Last year, she became the host of a her own show on Fox News. During a round of interviews promoting the show, she said she is still close to Trump.
“Sometimes I call him,” she told the New York Times. “And occasionally, I’ll get a call,” she said.
But she is still perhaps best known for her radio show, and the inflammatory comments she makes on it.
Rory O’Connor, a liberal journalist and author of “Shock Jocks,” a book about conservative radio hosts, called Ingraham the “right-wing radio’s high priestess of hate” and pointed out that she once called the children of immigrants in the country illegally “anchor fetuses.”
All of this was open knowledge when LABI invited Ingraham, but it may have gotten more of a firebrand speech than it expected, as reflected in its statement: “LABI has a long history of listening to all perspectives and working in a bipartisan manner to develop solutions to Louisiana’s challenges.”