UPDATE (5/16/17 11:52 a.m. ET): Tammy Bruce has apologized:
First, I’m so sorry to the family. My intention was never to hurt a kid and his mom. We had absolutely no idea Michael was on the autism spectrum. And, as a gay woman and feminist I have spent most of my adult life working to improve the lives of women and children and those who are disenfranchised. I get it and I apologize.
I also appreciated the boy’s mother – Dr. Herrera-Yee’s – public comments and her clarity on this. A main lesson here, no matter intent, is to leave kids out of our political discussions. We certainly agree on this.
Last week, a video of Vice President Mike Pence went viral. Speaking in front of a room full of kids at the White House, he accidentally cuffed one of them in the face while gesturing at the end of the speech. It was a cute, flattering moment for Pence that soon would have vanished from a typical news cycle.
Two days later, however, Fox News’s Bill Hemmer, subbing for Tucker Carlson, criticized Michael, the young boy, for being entitled, saying he “felt aggrieved.” That came after guest Tammy Bruce cracked that “I guess we’re giving birth to snowflakes now because that looked like that kid needed a safe space in that room.”
Upset by what happened, Michael’s mother, Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee, appeared on CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday, where she was interviewed by host Jake Tapper. Herrera-Yee quickly gave context to her son’s behavior: “Michael is 10 years-old,” she began. “He is on the autism spectrum. He’s a military child. And he loves the White House.”
From there, she laid the groundwork: Michael has been verbal for five years. At school, he’s being taught manners and the other types of social rules that aren’t always well-understood by people with autism. Thus, naturally, after someone — even the vice president — accidentally cuffs him on the nose, he’s going to be persistent in getting an apology.
“It’s not meant in any sort of negative way,” his mother added. “Just him learning social interaction with someone else. What is appropriate and what isn’t.” She said Pence was “wonderful” in dealing with Michael, and clearly had no ill-will towards him.
The Fox clip was a different matter. She had seen a positive story about the video on “Fox and Friends” that morning, so when her mother saw a “Tucker” teaser about Michael and gave her the heads up, she put the show on. “Then, suddenly, it just went south.”
“I was devastated,” she continued. “And when I saw what they were saying, people who…they didn’t even know his age. They didn’t know who he was, but really taking out of context, a really innocent interchange between the Vice President and my son.”
To “right the wrong,” she suggests an increased awareness on the specifics of autism and an apology from Fox News “for having used my son out of context.” Her closing comment rang loudest, though.
“Please don’t use kids,” she said, seemingly addressing Fox News. “It doesn’t matter that he’s autistic or a military kid. Forget all that. He’s a kid. And you don’t use children as examples on national television like that.”