In the weeks leading up to the US midterm elections, the message of FoxNews was clear: violent crime is on the rise, cities are dangerous hellscapes, and Democrats are responsible.
Once the vote was over, however, the right-wing news channel seemed to decide that things weren’t so bad after all and cut its violent crime coverage by 50% from the pre-election average.
Media Matters for America, a media watchdog, found that each week from Labor Day through the Friday before the vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8, the network average of 141 crime segments through the days of the week. The overall coverage of crime matched the Republican Party’s efforts to portray violent crime as out of control and portray Democrats as responsible.
During midterm week, however, after voting ended, Fox News only aired 71 violent crime segments, Media Matters reported.
“I think this shows pretty clearly that the amount of Fox’s coverage of violent crime really has nothing to do with the level of violent crime in America – it has to do with political benefits,” said researcher Matt Gertz. major. at Media Matters.
“It came to a crescendo just before Election Day, and then once the election was over, America’s crime crisis was no longer of the greatest concern it had been in previous weeks.”
Media Matters noted that Fox News’ coverage of Crimes has increased somewhat in recent days after the filming at the University of Virginia and the Idaho student murdersbut said “coverage was significantly less focused on portraying Democratic cities as crime-infested.”
Fox News declined to comment.
Gertz said Tucker Carlson, Fox News’ most-watched host, had a big role to play in the coverage — and how Republicans across the country used crime as an issue. In a monologue in August, Carlson advised Republican politicians to focus their campaigns on “law and order”, which he said would lead to a “red wave” mid-term.
The Republicans did just that, spend millions on ads that highlighted instances of violent crime and portrayed Democrats, like John Fetterman, a U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, as responsible. The Washington Post reported that Republicans spent nearly $50 million on crime-focused ads between Sept. 5 and Oct. 25, far outpacing Democrats on the issue.
The network’s focus on a singular issue in the run-up to an election is nothing new, Gertz said. He said before the 2014 midterm elections that the Ebola outbreak became a repeated issue on Fox News, with the network blame barack obama for the spread of the virus.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s emails became the hot topicwhile in 2018 Fox News picked up on a so-called “migrant caravan,” using it to support Donald Trump’s midterm election, selling that the country needed to elect more Republicans to enact tougher immigration laws.
“It’s a play they’ve played over and over again in elections over the past decade,” Gertz said.
“Fox does that whenever they come up with some kind of message that they want to get across, and they try to get the Republicans to adopt it, and they try to get the mainstream press to adopt it. as well,” he added.
“And so the question becomes, how far is the mainstream press going to take the bait and turn it into a multiplier effect – where they repeat Fox’s message and the debate in the final days of the election revolves around everything that Fox wanted to talk about?”
It seems that this time neither the mainstream media nor the voters took the bait.
Carlson’s “red wave” failed to materialize in the midterm vote as Republican candidates far exceeded expectations.
Fetterman, the target of repetitions attacks by Fox News and numerous police ads by his opponent, Mehmet Oz, won his race by almost 5%, and although they were predicted to make significant gains in Congress, only Republicans narrowly took control of the Houseand the Democrats retained the Senate.