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Matt Drudge takes on Fox News over segment on political civility

"Check your soul in the makeup chair!" Drudge tweeted along with screenshots of a segment from the Fox News show "Outnumbered."
Image: Tree of Life synagogue
Law enforcement officers outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Sunday.Matt Rourke / AP

Matt Drudge, the founder of the influential conservative news website Drudge Report, sharply criticized Fox News on Monday for what he called an insensitive segment on the political implications of recent terror attacks, including the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday in which 11 people were killed.

Drudge focused on a segment from the show "Outnumbered" in which Fox News hosts Melissa Francis and Harris Faulkner appeared with Republican strategist Josh Holmes, Fox News contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy and Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery in a segment about creating national unity in politics.

Drudge, a relatively reclusive figure whose website of aggregated links rivals The New York Times website in terms of web traffic, responded to the segment with a string of strongly worded tweets.

"A segment on Fox News this morning where hosts laughed and joked their way through a discussion on political impact of terror was bizarre," Drudge tweeted. "Not even 48 hours since blood flowed at synagogue? Check your soul in the makeup chair!"

Drudge, who regularly deletes his tweets, zeroed in on Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, who goes by Kennedy, posting a screenshot of her on the show with the text, "Is it really funny?"

He also tweeted a series of screenshots of the other panel members with the text, "Hysterical!"

In the segment, Francis explained how she tells her kids that politics is like football and that each side sometimes "talks smack" about the other side.

Faulkner joked about Francis using the term "talking smack," which prompted laughter among the group. The network's chryon read: "Questions on How Mail-Bomb Scare, Synagogue Attack Could Impact Midterm Voters Eight Days From Now."

The segment can be found here.

Fox News released a statement clarifying that the hosts were not making light of the recent violence.

“Kennedy made an unrelated quip at the end of the segment which was focused on unity — there was absolutely no joking or laughing about the events of this weekend and a screen grab of her smiling is hardly indicative of the entire segment," the company said in the statement. "The lower third should not have been up for the duration of this segment as it was not fully reflective of what the panelists were discussing."

Matthew Lysiak, who is writing a book on Drudge called "The Drudge Revolution," said he was surprised by the tweets.

"I don't know where this came from," Lysiak said. "People I have spoken to are surprised, but Matt Drudge has always had an extremely independent streak and when people feel they know where his allegiances lie, we've seen him reverse course."

Drudge did not respond to a phone call and email requesting comment.

Fox News and Fox Business Network have been the subject of harsh criticism following the synagogue attack as well as the arrest of a man who has been charged with sending explosive devices to a variety of Trump critics as well as CNN.

Media critics have pointed to guests and discussion on the Fox channels that touch on conspiracy theories, including one about the "migrant caravan," a group of thousands of refugees walking from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border in search of asylum. On Monday, Fox Business Network condemned claims from a guest on "Lou Dobbs Tonight," who said the caravan had been funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish.

The synagogue shooter posted conspiracy theories about the caravan and its connection to a Jewish humanitarian group.