Fox News Instantly Slashed Crime Coverage Following Midterm Elections

Fox News Instantly Slashed Crime Coverage Following Midterm Elections

Fox News significantly decreased its volume of violent crime coverage in the week of the midterms, down 63 percent from the week prior.

The network averaged 141 weekday violent crime segments per week from Labor Day through the Friday before the election; in the week of the midterms, Fox aired 71 weekday violent crime segments — a decrease of 50 percent compared to the prior average.

Fox was open in its strategy of using violent crime as a political cudgel against Democrats throughout the midterms. Driven in part by Fox host Tucker Carlson's calls for Republicans to run on the issue, the network engaged in a months-long campaign to tie Democrats and the Biden administration to violent crime, often by highlighting specific incidents in “Democratic cities” and blaming progressive criminal justice reform for individual violent crimes.

In the lead-up to the midterms, Fox averaged 141 weekday violent crime segments per week from Labor Day through the Friday before the election. The two weeks prior to Election Day, those starting October 24 and October 31, featured the highest number of weekday violent crime segments of the period studied: 187 and 193 segments, respectively. That coverage dropped dramatically during the week of the election, which had just 71 weekday violent crime segments.

In the week after the election, Fox’s crime coverage has ticked back up a bit as stories about the tragic shooting at the University of Virginia and multiple killings at the University of Idaho entered the news cycle — but the coverage was notably less focused on painting Democratic cities as crime-infested. Thus far this week, Fox has aired 74 violent crime segments in three days, which is still notably fewer than in the weeks prior to the midterms.

Fox’s breathless political coverage of violent crime during the midterm period often ignored key context, such as the reality that crime statistics from red states were higher than those of blue states and that Democrats across the country at multiple levels of government made efforts to fund law enforcement and curtail violent crime. Instead, these segments often focused on attacking progressive district attorneys and candidates across the country.

This initial drop-off in violent crime coverage immediately following the midterm elections bears resemblance to another long-forgotten Fox News midterm narrative: “migrant caravans.” The network went all in fearmongering about “migrant caravans” in the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterms — only to completely drop the subject right after.

Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on Fox News Channel (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) for segments that analysts determined to be about violent crime in general or specific violent crimes from September 5, 2022, through November 16, 2022.

We counted segments, which we defined as instances when violent crime in general or a specific violent crime was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of violent crime in general or of a specific violent crime. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed violent crime in general or a specific violent crime with one another.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.


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