In the weeks leading up to the US midterm elections, the message from Fox News was clear: violent crime is on the rise, cities are dangerous and Democrats are to blame.
With the vote over, however, the right-wing news channel seemed like things weren’t so bad after all, and reduced its coverage of violent crimes by 50% compared to the pre-election average.
Media Matters for America, a news watchdog, found that every week from Labor Day to the Friday before the vote on Tuesday, November 8, the network added 141 episodes to the crime during the week. The blanket crime coverage was consistent with the Republican party’s efforts to portray violent crime as out of control, and to portray Democrats as culpable.
In the week between, however, after the vote was over, Fox News only aired 75 episodes about the violence, Media Matters reported.
“I think this clearly shows that the amount of Fox coverage of violent crimes has nothing to do with the amount of violence in America – it has to do with political benefits,” said Matt Gertz, a senior executive. on Media Matters.
“It grew before election day, and after the election, the crime problem in America was no longer as pressing as it had been in previous weeks.”
Media Matters noted that Fox News’ coverage of crime has increased slightly in recent days after the shooting at the University of Virginia and the killing of students in Idaho, but said “the coverage was not focused on painting the city Democrats as the culprits”.
Fox News declined to comment.
Gertz said Tucker Carlson, Fox News’ most-watched host, had a big part to play in the cover-up — and how Republicans across the country used fraud as an issue. In a monologue in August, Carlson advised Republican politicians to focus their campaigns on “law and order”, which he said would result in a “red wave” between the terms.
The Republicans did exactly that, spending millions on ads that highlighted violent acts of violence and showed Democrats, like John Fetterman, running for the US Senate in Pennsylvania, guilty. The Washington Post reported that Republicans spent nearly $50 million on crime-focused advertising between September 5 and October 25, outpacing Democrats in that regard.
Networks focusing on one issue before an election is nothing new, Gertz said. He said before the 2014 midterm elections, the Ebola outbreak became a recurring theme on Fox News, with the network blaming Barack Obama for the spread of the virus.
In 2016 Hillary Clinton’s emails became a headline, while in 2018 Fox News took on the so-called “migrant caravan”, using it to promote Donald Trump’s mid-term elections to sell that the country should elect more Republicans to reduce tough immigration laws.
“It’s a game they’ve run many times in the last 10 years,” said Gertz.
“Fox does this every time they come up with a message they want to push, and they try to get the Republicans to pick it up, and they try to get the media to pick it up,” he added.
“And so the question becomes: to what extent will reporters take the bait and turn it into something more — where they’re repeating Fox’s message and the debate in the final days of the election is changing whatever Fox wanted to talk about?”
It seems that this time neither the media nor the voters took the bait.
Carlson’s “red wave” failed to materialize in the midterm vote, as Republican candidates failed to meet expectations.
Fetterman, the target of repeated attacks by Fox News and extensive advertising from his opponent, Mehmet Oz, won his race by about 5%, and expected to make significant gains in Congress, Republicans just took control of the House. and the Democrats kept the Senate.