Greg Kelly, one of the hosts on the Newsmax cable channel, has been skewered online after he disparaged one of President Joe Biden’s dogs.
Kelly said Champ, one of the first family’s two German shepherds, looked as if he’s “from the junkyard” and “looks like he’s not been well cared for.”
His conclusion about the president’s older dog, made on the Florida-based media network, was widely condemned on social media, and even prompted an on-air rebuke from a host on another cable channel, Brian Williams of MSNBC.
After the torrent of criticism, Kelly lashed back in a tweetstorm.
It started on Friday, during a segment on the show “Greg Kelly Reports” when he brought up the subject of Biden’s older dog — a topic that seemed planned since it also included an image of Champ that filled the screen as he began a conversation with two guests.
“Did you see the dog? I want to show you something I noticed. Doesn’t he look a little rough?” Kelly said, laughing. “I love dogs, but this dog needs a bath and a comb and all kinds of love and care. I’ve never seen a dog in the White House like this. I remember Buddy, I remember Millie, I remember lots of dogs, but not a dog who seems, I don’t know, I don’t know how much love and care he is getting.”
“This dog looks like from, I’m sorry, from the junkyard, and I love that dog but he looks like he’s not been well cared for,” Kelly said.
His first guest, Craig Shirley, agreed with the host: “He looks very dirty and disheveled and very unlike a presidential dog like Millie or Victory or something else in the past in the White House.”
According to the Presidential Pet Museum, every president for more than a century has had a dog — except for former President Donald Trump. Many people believe that Trump doesn’t like dogs, especially because he has repeatedly used the label “dog” to describe women he doesn’t like or who challenged him. During a 2019 rally, Trump said it would look “phony” if he got a dog.
Buddy was owned by former President Bill Clinton, Millie was owned by former President George H.W. Bush, and Victory by former President Ronald Reagan. Shirley is the author of four books on Reagan.
Many Americans love their pets, especially dogs. Public opinion polling from YouGov.com showed 69% of Americans had at least one pet in their home, with dogs the most common. And 88% of pet owners said pets are members of their families and 66% have allowed their pet to sleep in bed with them. YouGov also found 49% of Americans identified themselves as a “dog person” — well ahead of “cat person” at 21%.
Many Americans did not love Kelly’s comments.
Two of the nicer comments on Twitter: “The idiots are attacking a 12-year-old German Shepherd. Elderly pups, much like people, lose their magazine-cover looks to the emotionally blind. Those that have the gift of sight can see the exquisite beauty in their life well lived,” one person wrote.
Another referred to Kelly and Shirley as “pathetic pasty dudes. They wished they looked as good as that dog.”
On his MSNBC program “The 11th Hour,” Friday night, Williams defended Champ since he “can’t speak for himself.”
“First of all, he’s 12 and if you know German shepherds you know that’s old for that breed. They got Champ when Biden was vice president. He was so named because Biden’s dad used to say to young Joe ‘any time you get knocked down, champ, get up,’” Williams said. “Think of it this way: if Champ were to meet Greg Kelly, he would probably love Greg Kelly unconditionally because that’s what dogs do. It’s probably also why there are no dogs anchoring on Newsmax.”
Newsmax, based in Boca Raton, Fla., enjoyed a ratings bump after the November election, when Trump and his allies perpetuated the false claim that he actually won re-election and voting was riddled with fraud, and the former president urged his fans to start watching the channel.
Presidential pets over the years
Here's a look back at some of the presidential pets that have roamed the White House.