Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
2019 was dominated by conflict and change in the U.S. and across the world. Massive pro-democracy protests erupted in major cities; there was a continuing international rise of authoritarian governments; white nationalist hatred continued to spread around the globe; the Trump administration faced an existential threat as House Democrats launched an inquiry into the president’s conduct with Ukraine and brought articles of impeachment against him; and the number of mass shootings outpaced the number of days this year. And yet, Fox News still found time to be outraged about a series of faux controversies in 2019.
As the year comes to a close, it seemed appropriate to look back at some of the most ridiculous non-troversies Fox News aired.
In January, shaving company Gillette released an advertisement directed toward men in the #MeToo era. The advertisement showed clips depicting bullying among young boys along with sexism in the corporate world and entertainment media. The ad was crafted as a rebuttal to toxic masculine culture and encouraged men to step up, “say the right thing,” and “act the right way.” While many saw the advertisement as an attempt to promote a better society, Fox News blasted the ad and Gillette for attacking men in an unfair and derogatory manner.
Lashana Lynch would be cast as 007 in an upcoming James Bond film, “taking over Bond’s secret agent number after his character leaves MI6.” Though Daniel Craig, the current Bond, retained the title role, in September, he and former Bond actor Pierce Brosnan expressed support for the idea of casting a woman for the role in the future. Of course, on Fox News, such rumors of a woman character taking the 007 code name were met with deep-seated outrage and contempt.
Chick-fil-A has long been on the frontlines of right-wing media’s culture wars. In November, however, the company announced that it would no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Whenever Chick-fil-A happened to be in the news, Fox News was previously quick to trumpet its support for the fast food business. But in this particular case, the network showed deep consternation over what it viewed as the company crumbling in the face of “leftist” attacks.
Nike’s Betsy Ross shoes
Nike planned to release a new shoe for the Fourth of July that would have displayed the 13-star American flag associated with the Revolutionary War and Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. After former NFL player Colin Kaepernick privately criticized the design to the company, Nike cancelled its planned release of the flag-emblazoned shoe. Fox News took Nike’s cancellation of the Betsy Ross shoe as further proof that “the left” was labeling America and all those who loved it as racists.
After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this summer, Universal Pictures first pulled the ads and then cancelled the planned September release of its new film, The Hunt. The film depicted “deplorables” being hunted by “elite liberals” and drew widespread condemnation from right-wing media. On Fox News, the film was presented as evidence of the hypocritical left which wants to sow divisions in the country and pour ridicule on Trump voters.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Singers John Legend and Kelly Clarkson announced plans to release an updated edition of the classic 1944 Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The song has recently been the subject of controversy for its lyrics, which hint at sexual harassment. Fox News took this new edition as another sign of “the Left’s” relentless drive to destroy all things fun and nostalgic.
Toy and board game company Hasbro announced an updated version of their classic game Monopoly this year. Ms. Monopoly would pay women more than men at the beginning of the game and whenever they passed “Go.” The game sought to highlight the ongoing existence of the gender pay gap, something conservatives often dismiss. Fox News greeted the new game by fearmongering about the rise of socialism in America and claiming that it merely patronizes women.
The “War on Thanksgiving”
Fox News’ holiday culture war vitriol just keeps beginning earlier every year. This year, it was a “War On Thanksgiving.”