Fox News spent much of its time in the lead-up to last week’s midterm elections on violent crime, often by linking criminal violence to “Democratic cities” and progressive laws.
The conservative cable giant, however, returned to much coverage after the GOP’s lack of election results, which did not bring the “red tsunami” many on the network had promised.
According to a study conducted by the organization Media Matters, the network devoted almost half of its online episodes to violent crimes compared to the period before the election.
Between Labor Day and the week before midterms, Fox News averaged 141 weekly episodes of violent crime per week, according to research by Media Matters. The week of the election, though, the number of violent crime episodes dropped to 71—a 50 percent decrease compared to the post-Labor Day period.
In a week-to-week comparison, the fall is even more severe. The average week was down 63 percent from the previous week, which showed 193 percent of online fraud.
Fox News’ coverage of violence increased slightly this week, largely due to the news of the University of Idaho stabbing and the deadly shooting at the University of Virginia. At the same time, though, Fox didn’t really frame these dangers around liberal policies in crime-ridden Democratic cities.
After a spring that featured Democratic legislative victories and anti-abortion laws galvanizing progressive voters, Fox News star Tucker Carlson appeared to have ditched the network’s strategy of using violence to bludgeon Democrats in the interim.
“If every Republican ran for office, every Republican in the United States looked at law and order and equality under the law, there would be a red wave,” Carlson announced on Aug. 19 broadcast of his highest-profile program.
In the weeks that followed, GOP campaigns seemed to heed Carlson’s advice — spending a lot of their advertising money on crime and making it a central message among Republicans in the final months. And the network increased its coverage of violent crimes as the election approached, airing 380 weekday episodes in the two weeks before the midterms.
This synergistic behavior is nothing new, of course. Back in 2014, Fox News and the GOP feared that Democrats were putting the country at risk over the Ebola virus, only to drop the issue after midterms. The same thing happened again in 2018 when the network went all-in in fueling fears about Central American migrant planners”to destroy our border,” then lost interest following the November election.