Tag: bret baier
Bret Baier

What Fox's Bret Baier Revealed About Himself In Texting With Carlson

On May 5, The Daily Beastreported on texts between Fox News anchor Bret Baier and the recently fired former face of the network, Tucker Carlson. The texts highlight Baier’s fixation on ratings above honest reporting and illustrate, yet again, that Fox News is a toxic brand for advertisers.

Baier is a supposed “straight news” anchor who is sometimes misleadingly held up as a more earnest, fact-based reporter as compared to his opinion-side counterparts despite his ownhistory of shoddy, partisan hackery. In the texts, Carlson expressed concern over Fox News’ decision to call the 2020 presidential race in Arizona — an accurate call that was controversial only among right-wing election deniers — saying that they “could really fuck up a lot of what we’ve built” and Baier replied, “I totally agree.”

Carlson reached out to Baier to complain that he felt the network wasn’t taking viewer concerns about the call “seriously enough” and said they need to “reassure our core audience. They’re our whole business model.” Baier affirmed Carlson’s concerns and said that he was “pushing for answers” and that he thought “they will slow walk” calling Nevada’s race. Baier and Carlson strategized options for alleviating audience concerns as Baier agreed with Tucker’s claim that he needs “to do whatever I can to keep our numbers up and our viewers happy.” Baier also noted that he was “taking major incoming” regarding the decision.

As The Daily Beast reported, the texts illustrate that while Baier tends to represent the supposedly serious “straight news” side of Fox News, network figures will prioritize ratings over fact-checking no matter when their shows air:

The texts between Carlson and Baier stand in contrast to the respective reputations they cultivated at the network—with the former as the network’s leading right-wing firebrand seemingly at odds with the “hard news” side anchored by the latter.

And though Baier is often viewed as a consummate newsman, his texts here suggest a commitment to preserving a highly partisan, fact-averse audience over responsible newsgathering.

Fox News has long maintained that there is a difference between its “straight news” reporters like Baier and its “opinion side” hosts like Carlson, and the network has leaned on this excuse to maintain credibility with advertisers. Media Matters has long reported on the myth of Fox’s supposed straightnewsside, and the texts between Baier and Carlson only further illustrate that the entire network has a toxic fixation on prioritizing partisan, damaging lies over legitimate reporting.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Martha MacCallum and  Bret Baier

Fox Anchors: Viewer Reaction, Not Accuracy, Should Dictate Election Calls

Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum argued in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election that the network should consider a “layer” beyond “statistics and numbers” when projecting the election results, and instead take into account how its conservative audience would react to the network’s calls.

The New York Timesreviewed a recording of a Zoom meeting held on November 16, 2020, over a week after the network’s decision desk had projected Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. The article details discussions between Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and the two purported straight news anchors on the continued political fallout over the network’s correct projection on election night that Joe Biden had won the swing state of Arizona. (Fox News later fired two key news executives who had presided over the call, which was factually correct and never reversed by any real-life developments.)

Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the two main anchors, suggested it was not enough to call a state based on numerical calculations, the standard by which networks have made such determinations for generations, but that viewer reaction should be considered. “In a Trump environment,” Ms. MacCallum said, “the game is just very, very different.”

Ms. Scott invited Mr. Baier and Ms. MacCallum, “the face” of the network, as she called them, to describe the heat they were taking, according to the recording reviewed by The Times.

“We are still getting bombarded,” Mr. Baier said. “It became really hurtful.” He said projections were not enough to call a state when it would be so sensitive. “I know the statistics and the numbers, but there has to be, like, this other layer” so they could “think beyond, about the.”

Ms. MacCallum agreed: “There’s just obviously been a tremendous amount of backlash, which is, I think, more than any of us anticipated. And so there’s that layer between statistics and news judgment about timing that I think is a factor.” For “a loud faction of our viewership,” she said, the call was a blow.

Neither she nor Mr. Baier explained exactly what they meant by another “layer.” A person who was in the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions said on Saturday that Mr. Baier had been talking about process because he was upset the Decision Desk had made the Arizona call without letting the anchors know first.

New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker and The New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser reported last year in their book The Divider that Baier had attempted to convince the network to retract its call of Arizona for Biden and to “put it back” as Trump winning, even though Trump trailed at the time by more than 10,000 votes.

“The Trump campaign was really pissed,” he wrote in an email to Jay Wallace, the president and executive editor at Fox. “This situation is getting uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I keep having to defend this on air.” He accused the Decision Desk of “holding on for pride” and added: “It’s hurting us. The sooner we pull it—even if it gives us major egg [on our faces]—and we put it back in his column the better we are in my opinion.

By the time of the Zoom meeting on November 16, there could not have been any remaining doubt over the fundamental accuracy of the Arizona call. Baier and MacCallum, however, were still arguing that it had been a political mistake for the network to be first on the air with this truthful story.

This newest reporting further reveals the extent to which Fox does not have a “straight news” side, but instead is just another cog in a right-wing propaganda machine. This story must also be considered in the context of revelations from Dominion Voting Systems’ ongoing defamation lawsuit against Fox, which reveals that Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and other key executives knew that the Trump campaign’s conspiracy theories about massive electoral fraud were indeed false, but that the network continued to push them in the pursuit of profit.

In the two-week period after the Fox News decision desk had declared Joe Biden the president-elect, the network’s coverage undermined that projection by questioning the results of the election or pushing conspiracy theories at least 774 times.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox News Replaces Chris Wallace With A Parade Of Partisan Misinformers

Fox News Replaces Chris Wallace With A Parade Of Partisan Misinformers

Fox News will reportedly replace Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, who recently announced his departure from the right-wing propaganda channel, with rotating anchors from its “news” side. But most of these figures have extensive histories of pushing conservative misinformation.

On December 12, Wallace announced that he would be departing Fox News, to join CNN after 18 years of hosting Fox News Sunday, stripping one of the last veneers of respectability from the network’s blatant and deadly right-wing propaganda. According to The Wall Street Journal, “rotating anchors will fill in for Mr. Wallace until a permanent replacement is named, including Bret Baier, Dana Perino, Bill Hemmer, Jennifer Griffin and John Roberts.” NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik said Shannon Bream, Neil Cavuto, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner will also serve as rotating Fox News Sunday anchors.

But nearly all of these Fox personalities have proved that they’ll peddle misinformation to viewers on many topics.

Bret Baier

Baier has been the anchor of Fox News’ Special Report since 2009. He has regularly spread conservative misinformation on his program and in multiple Fox special documentaries. He pushed misleading information about a food assistance program and the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, and he falsely claimed just prior to the 2016 election that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was likely to be indicted.

More recently, over the past year -- among other things -- he has downplayed the threat of climate change, allowed a Fox contributor to repeatedly spread skepticism of COVID-19 vaccines, and downplayed both the January 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election:

  • Baier aired misleading graphs about fossil fuel prices to critique the Biden administration. To further the narrative that commodities prices have increased dramatically under the Biden administration, Baier aired graphs showing oil and natural gas prices from 2019 to 2021, a notably short snapshot in time. A 10- or 20-year graph would’ve shown a much more accurate picture that these energy prices have fluctuated a lot in the past. [Media Matters, 9/29/21]
  • During 12 years of Baier’s tenure, nearly 88% of Special Report’s climate segments either spread misinformation or perpetuated false or misleading narratives. [Media Matters, 6/16/21]
  • Special Report downplayed the United Nation’s sixth climate change report and turned to a climate science denier for commentary. On Baier’s show, Fox foreign affairs correspondent Benjamin Hall claimed in a report that “some experts have cast doubt” on the report’s “conclusions.” The “expert” Hall relied on was Steve Koonin, a theoretical physicist with no formal background in climate science and a frequent Fox guest who has used his controversial history within the scientific and political climate change community to contradict established scientific consensus. Baier’s program also allowed former Trump official Mike Pompeo to spin the Trump administration’s failures on climate change and misled viewers about support for clean energy investments. [Media Matters, 8/10/21, 4/23/21, 4/7/21]
  • Baier allowed a Fox contributor to spread skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines on Special Report. On Special Report, Fox contributor Ben Domenech referred to the COVID-19 vaccines as an “experimental treatment” and dubiously blamed mask requirements for some people’s hesitancy to get vaccinated. Baier then moved on to a related topic. In an earlier episode, Domenech denied that any Americans had died as a result of vaccine misinformation. [Media Matters, 7/19/21, 7/16/21]
  • Baier whitewashed Trump’s election lies while covering them. On July 12, Baier reported on Trump’s comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), during which he lied about the 2020 presidential election. Baier aired a clip of Trump’s lies without offering any context or pushback. Baier has also previously played a role in Fox’s promotion of Trump’s election lies, and he previously aired a misleading graphic comparing voting laws in Colorado and Georgia amid media coverage of Georgia’s new restrictive voting laws. Earlier in the year, Baier reported on former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell pushing election lies without noting Fox’s involvement in spreading those lies. [Media Matters, 7/13/21, 5/14/21, 4/7/21, 3/24/21]
  • A day before the January 6 insurrection, Baier claimed Democrats “did try to overturn an election” by impeaching Trump. [Media Matters, 1/5/21]
  • Baier downplayed the January 6 insurrection as it was happening: “It's not like it's a siege. ... It seems like they are protesting.” The next day, Baier downplayed Trump’s incitement to insurrection. [Media Matters, 1/6/21, 1/7/21]

John Roberts

Roberts joined the channel in 2011 after leaving CNN and currently co-anchors the daytime Fox program America Reports. During his time at Fox News, he has provided cover for Republican politicians, even incredulously claiming during the 2016 election cycle that Trump had “become a champion” for the LGBTQ community. And in 2021, Roberts misled about President Joe Biden's policies, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and voting rights and immigration:

  • Roberts described the news of Biden signing a law that supports law enforcement and the Justice Department giving a grant to hire more police officers as an “amazing … reversal by Democrats” on “this whole defund the police movement,” which Biden never supported. In fact, the grant was part of a campaign promise by Biden to provide funds for hiring and training more police officers. [Twitter, 11/18/21, PolitiFact, 8/5/20, U.S. Department of Justice, 11/18/21]
  • Roberts has both spread vaccine hesitancy and blamed it on Democrats. In a tweet he later deleted, Roberts wrote of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s death: “The fact that Colin Powell died from a breakthrough COVID infection raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term.” Robert did not mention that Powell had a serious underlying health condition. Months earlier, Roberts had blamed Democrats for “a lot of vaccine hesitancy in the United States.” [Media Matters, 10/19/21, 7/23/21]
  • Roberts pushed the lie that migrants don’t show up to their immigration court hearings. In a conversation with his co-anchor Shannon Bream, Roberts agreed with her assertion that most undocumented migrants fail to show up at their court hearings. In fact, by some measurements, as many as 81% of families attend all their hearings, with the rate reaching 99% for families with legal representation. [Media Matters, 9/22/21]
  • Roberts pushed a ridiculous spin of Biden’s leaked phone call with the former Afghanistan president. Roberts pushed a dishonest spin of a phone call that Biden had in July with then-President Ashraf Ghani, discussing ideas for the government of Afghanistan to survive against the Taliban’s takeover of the country. Roberts joined other Fox personalities in comparing the call to Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president -- a real political scandal in which Trump had threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine unless its government acted as a political tool against Trump's own domestic opposition. [Media Matters, 9/2/21]
  • Roberts pushed dishonest talking points about Texas’ voter suppression bills. In June, Roberts joined other Fox hosts in pushing dishonest talking points about Texas’ bills to make voting more restrictive by incorrectly comparing the proposed restrictions to voting conditions in Delaware. [Media Matters, 6/2/21]
  • Roberts pushed a blatant lie that Biden wanted to ban hamburger consumption, before airing a correction that blamed graphics and script. Roberts distorted a University of Michigan study that showed reducing meat consumption could lower greenhouse gas emissions to falsely claim Biden’s climate plan included limiting Americans’ meat consumption. He opened a segment on the topic by declaring: “Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the Biden climate agenda. That’s the finding of one study.” The segment included chyrons such as “Bye-bye burgers under Biden’s climate plan,” “Study: 90% of red meat out with Biden climate plan,” and “Biden’s climate plan burns all-you-can-eat burgers.” Roberts later issued a correction, blaming “a graphic and a script” for the error. [Media Matters, 4/26/21]

Martha MacCallum

MacCallum joined Fox News in 2004 and is currently the anchor and executive editor of The Story. During her time at Fox, she has become known for regularly adoptingRepublican positions on the topics she covers. In 2021, MacCallum has attacked vaccine mandates; and programs for feeding children at school; and spread election lies:

  • MacCallum suggested that COVID-19 vaccine mandates could “ruin” the U.S. In a September 30 interview with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, MacCallum said: “If you designed a way to sort of ruin the United States, right, you'd go after the economy with this terrible virus that has killed so many people. … Then you get a vaccine. Then you make people — you mandate it and then you've got those same teachers and health care workers and the border patrol backing out of their jobs.” Earlier in the year, she cast doubt on the efficacy of masks in an interview with Brett Giroir, former assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. [Media Matters, 9/30/21, 3/9/21]
  • MacCallum attacked school lunch programs. MacCallum said: “One of the things that kills me is that now, you know, there's a free lunch program in New Jersey. And it's for everyone. … So, those kids are all going to grow up thinking, well, school lunch is free, right? And then God help the person who comes along and tries to take that away. … Once that happens, right, once it's baked in there -- never going to end.” [Media Matters, 9/30/21]
  • MacCallum pushed baseless suggestions that the California recall election outcome could be “fraudulent.” During a September 14 interview, MacCallum cited candidate Larry Elder’s suggestion “that there might be a fraudulent outcome to this election” and asked her guest, “Do you think that there is anything to not trust in this system?” [Media Matters, 9/14/21]
  • MacCallum allowed a Republican lawmaker who voted against certifying the election to lie about the House investigation of the insurrection on Fox News Sunday. When MacCallum was guest anchoring Fox News Sunday on July 25, MacCallum failed to question Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) about his support for overturning the 2020 presidential election results. Instead, she allowed him to falsely blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the breakdown in security on January 6. And as Trump’s supporters were ransacking the Capitol building on January 6, MacCallum said it was “a huge victory” for them because “they have disrupted the system in an enormous way.” [Media Matters, 7/26/21, 1/6/21]
  • MacCallum suggested that a New Jersey town removing holiday names from a school calendar is leading us down the path of communist China. [Media Matters, 6/14/21]
  • MacCallum argued that the Trump administration’s policy of taking children away from parents who crossed the southern border without authorization was “more humane” than the Biden administration policy of not deporting children who crossed the border. [Media Matters, 3/22/21]

Dana Perino

Perino was the press secretary for Republican President George W. Bush prior to joining Fox News in 2009. She currently co-anchors a news program for the channel with Bill Hemmer and co-hosts the opinion program The Five. She became known for her failed efforts to rehabilitate Bush’s record on terrorism while at Fox, most notably her incredible 2009 claim -- which she had to walk back -- that the U.S. “did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term.” During the past year, she continued to push misinformation about Democratic policies and priorities:

  • Perino bizarrely claimed windmills aren’t “green” because “you cannot recycle” wind turbines. [Media Matters, 10/21/21]
  • Perino misinformed about a proposed IRS reform to crack down on tax evaders. On October 1, Perino claimed Biden’s “new tax plan” has “a financial spying operation. The requirements mean that the IRS would track activities in every single American's bank account with at least $600, leading to concerns this could destroy financial privacy.” In fact, an expert explained that the $600 threshold would make it difficult for tax evaders to hide income across multiple bank accounts, and it would empower the IRS to more effectively target auditing toward those making a lot of money. It was also designed to protect privacy, not violate it. [Media Matters, 10/1/21, 10/8/21]
  • Perino interviewed disgraced author Steve Hayes about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and failed to note that Hayes was at the forefront of creating a discredited link between former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, which was cited by the Bush administration. [Media Matters, 8/18/21]
  • Perino blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Arkansas’ low COVID-19 vaccination rate. In an August 3 interview with Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Perino asked the governor if “confusion from the CDC ... frustrated your efforts” to increase vaccinations in his state. Perino also suggested that Biden’s mask wearing undermined faith in COVID-19 vaccines. [Media Matters, 8/3/21, 4/30/21]
  • Perino pushed Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) false claim that Biden had a “de facto child separation policy” at the southern border. [Media Matters, 3/22/21, PolitiFact, 2/25/21]
  • Perino helped gin up fake outrage over Democrats’ COVID-19 relief spending. Perino pushed a Republican demagogic talking point that the American Rescue Plan will provide stimulus payments to inmates in prison, without mentioning that this provision was also included in the previous COVID-19 relief packages passed under Trump. Perino showed mug shot images of a white-supremacist mass murderer and Boston Marathon bomber, saying: “They remain behind bars — but they’re going to get the money, anyway.” [Media Matters, 3/8/21]

Bill Hemmer

Hemmer co-anchors a morning news program on Fox with Perino, after he briefly anchored his own show in the afternoon. Like his former co-anchor Martha MacCallum, Hemmer has a history of pushing Republican talking points as facts, which he continued to do during the past year:

  • Hemmer spread a baseless anti-vaccine rumor about the California governor’s low public profile after his COVID-19 booster shot. According to Hemmer, “He got a booster shot two weeks ago, then he went out of — he was on camera for the booster shot, then he disappeared for two weeks, and we don’t really know why. But that was the first rationale we were given, is that it was Halloween.” [Media Matters, 11/10/21]
  • Hemmer invited a guest to attack a daycare chain over its “diversity, equity, and inclusion” plan. Hemmer and a guest mischaracterized KinderCare's “diversity, equity, and inclusion” plan, which includes reading multicultural books, as teaching kids as young as six weeks “they're an oppressor.” His guest claimed the daycare chain was “indoctrinating little children.” [Media Matters, 11/5/21]
  • Hemmer misled his viewers by characterizing the Department of Justice response to disruptions and violence at school board meetings as an attack on parents. While speaking to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Hemmer disregarded the context of the situation and asked, “Can you stop this move against parents?” [Media Matters, 10/8/21]
  • Hemmer dismissed concerns about climate change amid the destruction of Hurricane Ida. In September, Hemmer cut out of a news conference on the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in New York, saying, “ We're going to pop out of this. You know, it's turned political quite quickly. It didn't take long to put the focus on, quote-unquote, ‘climate change’ here in New York. In the meantime, though, we're dealing with at least 14 people who have died between New York and New Jersey based on the reporting we're getting now.” In November, Hemmer provided no pushback to a guest saying, “Climate change panic is so overblown that it is hyperbolic and silly.” [Media Matters, 9/2/21, 11/1/21]
  • Hemmer fear-mongered about terrorist groups crossing the border with no evidence. While discussing the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan, Hemmer said, “The Taliban — Al Qaeda is devious. Who's to say that they're not already taking advantage of that? When a family from Ghana can walk across the border into Texas, sky is the limit here.” [Media Matters, 8/23/21]

Harris Faulkner

Faulkner anchors her own program, The Faulkner Focus, on Fox News and also co-hosts the opinion program Outnumbered. She has made some bizarre choices as an interviewer, such as the time she apologized to viewers for her co-hosts who interrupted Fox contributor Newt Gingrich’s anti-Semitic tirade against George Soros. And after a terrorist attack in which a Trump supporter mailed pipe bombs to Democrats, Faulkner partially blamed a Democratic member of Congress for it. In 2021, Faulkner supported Republican attacks on elections and voting rights and helped to push conspiracy-laden claims:

  • Faulkner praised the “very deep” analysis of a Fox host who said infrastructure bills are about “compliance” from “overlords.” On Faulkner’s show, Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain described the infrastructure bill as “a solution to the fear that [Democrats] peddled … for over 18 months, and what we get at the backend of this is a redrawn relationship — with our elites, with our overlords, with our government, and so what they ask for in the end really won't be our government.” Faulkner provided no pushback and instead praised his “very deep” analysis. [Media Matters, 9/30/21]
  • After Faulkner’s co-host said Biden's “puppeteer” made the decision to fire Trump appointees from military advisory boards, Faulkner asked, “Which marionette is it?” This rhetoric echoes messaging from the Trump campaign in 2020, some of which was antisemitic, that Biden is a “puppet” of the left. [Media Matters, 9/9/21, 9/16/20, 8/20/20]
  • Faulkner helped conservatives lie about Georgia’s election restriction law on the air. Fox contributor Newt Gingrich and Fox host Kayleigh McEnany both distorted Georgia’s election law and compared it to Colorado’s election laws after Major League Baseball decided to move its All-Star Game in protest. Faulkner provided no pushback to Gingrich and McEnany for their claims and later echoed Gingrich’s point. [Media Matters, 4/14/21]
  • Faulkner helped Trump lie about immigration and his own border policies during an on-air interview with him. During a phone interview with Trump, Faulkner and Trump attempted to pin blame on Biden for undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, through an alleged abandonment of key Trump policies. The pair claimed that Biden had repealed a specific Trump border policy, when in reality much of the policy remained intact. [Media Matters, 3/22/21]
  • Faulkner told Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that the effort to throw out election results “benefits everybody.” Johnson was speaking to Faulkner about his plan to contest the 2020 election results. In response, she said, “You know what's interesting? And I've had voters ask me this very question. I'll put it to you. If this were a situation where others were disenfranchised — and it weren't Republicans — what you're doing benefits everybody. Because you've got to take a look at those areas that are broken, so going forward everybody has more faith.” [Media Matters, 1/5/21]

Neil Cavuto

Cavuto anchors shows on both Fox News and Fox Business, and he is also a senior vice president and managing editor of business news for the network. He has demonstrated a clear bias in favor of corporate executives over the rights and welfare of workers and has repeatedlyopposedunions and spread misinformation about minimum wage increases. In some of his 2021 coverage, Cavuto ignored his own network's role in lies about COVID-19 vaccines and the 2020 presidential election:

  • In an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Cavuto hid Fox’s role in pushing lies about Fauci and COVID-19 vaccines. During a December 3 interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, he and Cavuto worked to educate viewers about the need for COVID-19 vaccination. But Cavuto failed to point out that many of the narratives they were trying to dispel had been given a platform on his own network. [Media Matters, 12/3/21]
  • Instead of stating Biden was the legitimate president, Cavuto asked a guest: “In your gut, is Joe Biden the legitimate president of the United States?” During an interview with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson almost three months after Biden was inaugurated as president, Cavuto asked Carson “do you agree” with Trump and other Republicans that “the wrong person won the presidential election.” Cavuto later asked: “So, in your gut, doctor, is Joe Biden the legitimate president of the United States?” Cavuto never mentioned that Fox News had also extensively pushed this lie. [Media Matters, 4/21/21]
  • Cavuto criticized the passage of COVID-19 relief. Before Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, Cavuto claimed in February that the economy is doing so well, “we might not need it.” After it passed, he continued to spin the legislation as wasteful, saying: “Wall Street doesn't seem to care whether it's wasteful spending or not. Stimulus is stimulus, money is money. They seem to embrace it.” [Media Matters, 2/25/21, 3/12/21]

Shannon Bream

Bream anchors Fox News’ late night program Fox News @ Night, and prior to that, she was a Supreme Court correspondent for the network. Bream has a long history of amplifying anti-abortion lies. She has serially misgendered trans people, has attacked their rights, and has suggested businesses have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Bream has repeatedly hosted the anti-LGBTQ organization Alliance Defending Freedom. Bream's attacks on trans people continued in 2021:

  • Bream has repeatedly allowed guests to advocate for oppression of transgender people on her show. During March, Bream provided a platform to three Republican lawmakers who lied about the 2021 Equality Act, which aims to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) claimed that the Equality Act will “replace mom and dad with bureaucrats.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) made the absurd claim that “serial sexual predator Harvey Weinstein could transition to being a woman tomorrow, and the Equality Act would require the government to put him in a women's prison.” And Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) fearmongered that the Equality Act would “require our schools to expose girls in a junior high locker room to ... the penis of a boy who identifies as a girl.” On Bream's program, Fox reporter Trace Gallagher spread a pervasive right-wing lie that LGBTQ nondiscrimination measures will force doctors to perform “sex reassignment surgeries on minors.” [Media Matters, 5/11/21, 5/13/21]
  • Immediately following the January 6 insurrection, Bream hosted a Republican lawmaker who voted against certifying the 2020 election and responded approvingly to his proposed legislation to roll back voting access. On the night of January 6, Bream interviewed Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a lawmaker who had just voted to object to the electoral votes from Arizona, a state Biden won. When Banks said that he was planning to propose legislation to roll back voting access — such as banning all mail-in ballots — Bream responded approvingly, saying that Trump supporters had “a great deal of frustration” about the election. “And I think that's something that people across the political spectrum wants for Americans to have confidence in their elections,” she concluded. [Media Matters, 1/8/21]
Reprinted with permission from Media Mattters
Capitol Police Testimony Moves Fox Anchor, But Network’s Pundits Sneer

Capitol Police Testimony Moves Fox Anchor, But Network’s Pundits Sneer

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

When Fox News turned to Bret Baier for comment shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday's hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, the network's chief political anchor was adamant that it would be impossible for anyone to downplay the devastating testimony heard that day. Over the previous several hours, four police officers had described in searing detail how they had risked their lives defending Congress from a violent, bigoted throng that sought to halt the counting of electoral votes formalizing President Joe Biden's election.

"If you were watching, you saw compelling, at times damning, emotional testimony from these four officers who fought the line to try to protect the Capitol and the lawmakers inside," Baier said. Highlighting the officers' descriptions of how they "fought to hold on to their lives," he added that while Republicans are trying to argue that the investigation is politically motivated, "you can't watch the testimony and say that's not a big deal."

Baier was describing an emerging consensus that is damaging to Republicans. But Fox exists in part to manufacture dissent, disrupting such consensuses with narratives that are more palatable to its right-wing audience. And so that evening, Baier's colleagues -- who helped lay the groundwork for the riots by trumpeting Donald Trump's baseless claims of a stolen 2020 election and then spent the last seven months downplaying and concocting justifications for the resulting insurrection -- went to work.

"We're being lectured by phony politicians about threats to our country," The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld sneered amid a whataboutist rant, going on to describe the January 6 Capitol riots as "having politicians' jobs disrupted for two hours." He added that the hearing was "a circus" and "a clown show."

Fox's star prime-time host Tucker Carlson literally snickered after playing a clip of Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone saying that he's "been left with psychological trauma and emotional anxiety" from the Capitol riots. (Fanone described being "grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country"; the assault resulted in a heart attack.)

Mocking the testimony of Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who compared the riots to his Army deployment in Iraq, Carlson described the events of January 6 as follows: "Officers let the rioters into the Capitol. They had casual conversations with them inside the Senate Chamber. Some of the rioters had face paint and carried American flags."

Carlson also made fun of the emotionalresponses some members of the committee had to hearing the testimony.

Sean Hannity picked up the next hour where Carlson had left off, denouncing the investigation as a "political charade" with a "predetermined outcome" intended to "smear and slander" Trump and the Republican Party.

What followed was a parade of whataboutism, with Hannity and his guests highlighting how Democrats were fixated on the sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob intent on stopping the peaceful transition of power rather than homicides in Chicago or violence at last year's protests against police brutality.

Later that night, from her platform on Fox's 10 p.m. ET hour, Laura Ingraham described the hearing as "nothing more than performance art." She went on to announce "The Angle awards for today's best performances," including the award for "best use of an exaggeration in a supporting role" to Gonell, "blatant use of partisan politics when facts fail" to Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and "best performance in an action role" to Fanone.

Over the prime-time block, Carlson and Ingraham aired clips from the hearing only to mock the speakers, while Hannity bashed the event without actually airing clips from it.

Whether or not they watched the hearings as Baier did, Fox's right-wing propagandists did their best to leave their audiences thinking that the testimony that day was not actually a "big deal." And by this morning, the hearings had all but disappeared from the network's airwaves.

The same phenomenon has happened over and over again: Fox's "straight news" side describes events as damning for Republicans or helpful for Democrats, only for the "opinion side" to go into overdrive to hide that from its audience.

The cycle played out after professor Christine Blasey Ford testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her when they were in high school in the early 1980s. It happened again during the 2019 impeachment hearings over Trump's abuse of power in Ukraine. And it happened after Biden called for "uniting our nation" and ending "this uncivil war that pits red against blue" during his inaugural address.

Fox isn't in the business of telling its viewers what happened. It's in the business of telling them what they should think about what happened.

Research contributions from Will DiGravio