Hunter Biden

Hyped By Right, 'Bombshell' Testimony On Hunter Biden Is A Squib

Right-wing media constantly hyped up an appearance by Hunter Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer in front of the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee as a smoking gun in their bad-faith targeting of the president’s son. But new reporting based on firsthand knowledge of Archer’s testimony shows that their predictions ultimately fell flat. Archer reportedly denied the notion that Hunter Biden included his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, in conversations about dealings with foreign business entities.

Last month, Archer was subpoenaed to testify in a letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) as part of the committee’s ongoing investigations into alleged business deals by Hunter Biden. Today, Archer testified in a closed-door interview and, according to CNN, “provided no evidence connecting President Joe Biden to any of his son’s foreign business dealings.” CNN also reported that Archer told the committee Hunter Biden had sold the “illusion” of access to his father’s office. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY), who also sits on the Oversight Committee, told reporters that “Hunter and his father had ‘casual conversations’ in the presence of Hunter’s business partners that did not involve any business discussions.”

So far, the biggest takeaway from Archer’s testimony has been his recollection that Hunter Biden put his father on the phone in an unofficial capacity roughly 20 times over the span of 10 years. Even this “revelation” hardly touches the months of right-wing conspiracy theories assuring that Archer’s congressional testimony would be the metaphorical nail in the coffin that proved wrongdoing by the Biden family. Here’s a sampling of the claims conservative media tried to make about Archer in the days before he spoke in front of Congress:

  • On July 25, the Washington Examinerquoted Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R-SC) claim that Archer “knows where all the bodies are buried, and I believe that his testimony will be compelling enough to show that Joe Biden was in the room during much of these discussions during much of these deals.”
  • Right-wing commentator Liz Wheeler tweeted on July 30 that “Joe Biden is terrified of what Devon Archer will testify to Congress, so Biden's DOJ tries to throw Archer in prison before his Congressional testimony. To prevent YOU from hearing the truth about Biden corruption. The more Biden tries to hide, the more we must demand the truth.”
  • The Gateway Punditwrote on July 28 that Archer went into hiding ahead of his congressional testimony due to threats “possibly from circles involved with the Biden Crime Family.” The far-right conspiracy theory outlet also claimed on July 24 that “Archer is going to sing like a canary and tell Congress that Hunter Biden put his dad, then-VP Joe Biden on speakerphone into meetings with his foreign business associates at least two dozen times.”
  • TheBlaze predicted on July 24 that “Archer's testimony, should it ultimately happen, may kneecap the White House's denial of Biden's involvement in his son's foreign business dealings.”
  • Former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove claimed on Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum that “the Devon Archer interview is going to be incredibly revealing because as you said, he's at the center of all this.”
  • Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld suggested that making regular phone calls to one’s father is strange, saying, “The GOP is gearing up to hear from Hunter's ex-partner Devon Archer. … And a new report in the New York Post revealing that he plans to tell them that Hunter put his father, the then-VP, on the phone with business associates at least two dozen times. Two dozen times, Jesse. Let me do the math for you, that's over 24. … That is amazing. Do you talk to your dad 24 times?” Fox host Jesse Watters responded, “I haven’t talked to him 24 times in a year.”
  • Fox host Sean Hannity cited the New York Post’s Miranda Devine in claiming that “Devon Archer has damning new evidence and information against the big guy himself.” Hannity suggested that Archer’s testimony will inform Congress that “Joe Biden not only knew about all of Hunter’s sketchy foreign business deals but acted as a closer or sweetener to these foreign transactions that benefited the family in terms of millions and millions of dollars.”
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham suggested that Archer’s testimony would be particularly revealing, saying, “Now, it looks like friend and former business partner Devon Archer is set to testify — finally, after trying to avoid it — before the House Oversight Committee. And he is going to spill the beans on then-Vice President Biden’s contacts with his son's foreign business interests. Now, according to reporting from the New York Post’s Miranda Devine, who — she is going to join us shortly, Archer is going to testify that Hunter put his dad on the phone at least two dozen times with these individuals from various foreign entities.”
  • Jesse Watters said that “the dam is finally breaking for the Bidens.” He went on to claim that “testimony from a Biden insider like this will be devastating. Miranda [Devine] reports that when Joe Biden was vice president, Hunter Biden was meeting with the Ukrainian energy CEO, dialed his father, put it on speaker, introduced his father, the vice president of the United States, to his Ukrainian boss and let his dad know these guys, quote, ‘need our support.’”
  • While mocking Hunter Biden’s substance abuse issues, Gutfeld questioned whether Archer’s congressional testimony would make the president backpedal on previous statements that he was not involved in Hunter’s business dealings, saying, “But that now makes two people on Hunter's speed dial: his dad and his dealer. Could they be the same? Now, old Joe has repeatedly said he knew nothing of his son's overseas dealings but I wonder if now he'll change his tune.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Kevin McCarthy

'Complete Sell-Out': Right-Wing Media Trash McCarthy's Debt Deal

As the June 5 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit approaches, right-wing media are attacking House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for allegedly capitulating to Democrats’ demands in a tentative budget deal that passed the House on Wednesday evening and moved to the Senate.

The Treasury expects the government to run out of cash by Monday, June 5 if Congress does not raise the debt limit. The bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling until January 2025 would limit spending, expand work requirements for SNAP recipients, end the pause on student loans repayments and interest accrual, and amend environmental impact statements. Despite these concessions from the White House, there are still many conservatives pushing for more.

Biden and McCarthy have both touted the agreement as a bipartisan deal and urged Congress to pass it. While some conservatives have praised the deal, many in right-wing media are willing to risk a default, urging Congress to reject the agreement and criticizing McCarthy for supposedly striking a bad deal that favors Democrats:

  • Fox News host Laura Ingrahamcomplained that because the debt ceiling deal is being touted by Biden and the Chamber of Commerce, “It should be up to them to get the votes they want. There’s no reason for us to help.”
  • In a series of posts on Gettr, former Trump adviser and current right-wing podcaster Steve Bannondecried the deal as a “total cave” to Democrats’ wishes and called McCarthy a “Total and Complete Sell-Out.” In a statement to Newsweek, Bannon said the debt ceiling agreement was “not acceptable” for conservatives, adding, "This shows no leadership whatsoever.”
  • Bannon also called for conservatives to primary any Republican member of Congress that votes for the agreement: “If you vote for this, you should be and must be primaried.”
  • Conservative radio host Buck Sextonwrote, “With the debt ceiling deal, we’re reminded that conservatism in 2023 is making a series of goal line stands, never crossing into the opponent’s half of the field, and calling that a win.”
  • Appearing on Newsmax’s Eric Bolling The Balance, former Trump adviser Peter Navarrocalled the debt ceiling deal “the McCarthy Memorial Day Weekend Surrender,” and went on to say that McCarthy “got basically nothing” and “took the first off-ramp.” Guest host Carl Higbie urged the House of Representatives to reject the deal, saying, “I'm hoping that enough people see a problem with this and send it back and say, ‘No, no, no. Make it better.’”
  • Former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs criticized McCarthy, tweeting, “The Speaker went to a horse-whipping, not a negotiation! … He got nothing and is waiting for a participation trophy!”
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirktweeted, “Mad about the debt ceiling deal? It’s the neocons who were holding this entire deal hostage. They refused to budge on any cuts to our woke military. We could have had a much better deal if we had a GOP willing to limit $ we send to countries that hate us.”
  • Fox & Friends Sunday co-host Rachel Campos-Duffysaid, “It's a win for McCarthy … but it's a loss for America because this is an unsustainable path, this printing and spending. Just look to Latin America. It doesn't end well, and I don't know how long we can keep doing this.”
  • Right-wing Twitter account Catturdtweeted, “If you didn't know Kevin McCarthy would cave on the debt limit - you don't know Kevin McCarthy.”
  • Fringe conspiracy theorist and failed GOP congressional candidate Laura Loomerwrote: “McCarthy debt ‘deal’ is a disaster,” adding that Trump’s endorsement of McCarthy “is one of the worst decisions he’s ever made.”
  • During an appearance on The Story, Fox contributor and former Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetzsaid, “I would not vote for this bill. I don't think it solves the problem. I think it perpetuates where we are. I just -- I could never vote as a fiscal conservative in favor of this bill. It perpetuates the status quo, I think.”
  • Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardtasked, “Should he [McCarthy] have just let it default?” She reasoned, “Everybody would have blamed Biden at that point if you are not going to get what you want.”
  • On his radio show, Sean Hannity denounced the debt ceiling deal for not cutting enough spending, lamenting it would still continue to fund “pet projects that the Democrats want.”
  • Newsmax’s Eric Bolling said McCarthy “gave away the ranch” to the Democrats with the current agreement, saying McCarthy lost all his leverage and “handed Joe Biden a second term.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Abortion Pill Rises

As Use Of Abortion Pill Rises, Right-Wing Media Spread Misinformation

Following news that retail pharmacies will be able to distribute prescription medication used for abortions, anti-choice activists are flooding the right-wing media ecosystem with medical misinformation that falsely posits abortion medication as unsafe. This renewed attack on medication abortion is making it more difficult for pregnant people seeking credible information to make their own health care decisions.

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration announced that retail pharmacies in states where abortion is legal will be able to fulfill prescriptions for mifepristone, one of two medications used for abortions, after they’ve received a government certification. Three of the nation’s largest retail pharmacies — Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid — have already expressed their intent to distribute the medication.

Since Roe v. Wade’s reversal last year, medication abortion has become a particularly important safety net, as 14 states have harshly restricted or outright banned abortion, leading dozens of clinics to stop offering abortion care. Demand for abortion medication has surged in states with restrictions, and most abortions in the U.S. are now performed through medication. On January 25, the maker of mifepristone filed a lawsuit hoping to expand access of the medication to states with abortion bans, arguing that the FDA’s approval of the drug in 2000 makes restricting its distribution illegal.

With Roe’s reversal, the political right has pivoted from fixating on the Supreme Court to seizing on medication abortion, with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists helping lead the way. AAPLOG is a group of anti-abortion doctors whose mission is to leverage their professional credentials to stigmatize abortion care and scare away pregnant people seeking abortions by spreading medical misinformation. Now, as medication abortion has become a renewed object of conservative attention, right-wing outlets are increasingly turning to AAPLOG’s leaders as expert opinions undermining mifepristone.

Here’s how conservative media are doubling down on their misinformation efforts as the anti-abortion movement moves on past Roe:

  • After the FDA announced that retail pharmacies could dispense mifepristone prescriptions, AAPLOG’s outgoing CEO Dr. Donna Harrison appeared on the conservative TV network Newsmax on two different programs on January 10. On The National Report, Harrison stressed that the FDA’s announcement was “scientifically and medically irresponsible” and overstated the possibility of the rare side effects of taking the medication in an effort to scare patients away. Harrison also fearmongered that the distribution of medication abortion would lead to the “enablement of both abusers and pimps,” even though pregnant people denied an abortion are actually more likely than people who have abortions to be tethered to abusive relationships.
  • In a January 14 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Harrison falsely warned that medication abortion is “never safe” and fearmongered about potential side effects of mifepristone, claiming that the medication could lead to “the kind of bleeding one might see in a major motor vehicle accident.” (Bleeding is a normal side effect of taking abortion medication, but the description Harrison gave is much less common.)
  • On January 5, anti-abortion site Pregnancy Help News quoted a representative from the extremist evangelical group Family Research Council that selling medication abortion “will transform pharmacies from centers of healing into centers of death.” Anti-choice activist Lila Rose likened distributing mifepristone to “dispensing lethal poison alongside antibiotics and allergy medication.” Pregnancy Help News also cited research from the Charlotte Lozier Institute (a branch of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America) and AAPLOG, both organizations known for spreading misinformation on abortion.
  • Pregnancy Help News published a similar piece on January 22 centered around a speech from AAPLOG CEO-elect Dr. Christina Francis at the 2023 National Pro-Life Summit held by Students for Life of America. While peddling misinformation about medication abortion, Francis claimed that “women deserve to have accurate information” and decried what she described as “the abortion industry and unfortunately its allies in the medical profession” in a speech titled “Debunking the Myths of Chemical Abortion.” Francis falsely claimed that medication abortion is more unsafe than surgical abortion and promoted the concept of abortion pill reversal — which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists described as “unproven and unethical” but Pregnancy Help News referred to as a “ray of hope.”
  • An opinion piece featured in Townhall on January 12 attacked CVS and Walgreens as “neighborhood abortion drug dealers” because of the pharmacies’ plans to distribute prescription mifepristone. Even though abortion medication is extremely safe, the piece suggested the hangers used in illegal abortions have been replaced by mifepristone — an extremely fraught comparison used to falsely paint medication abortions as “fundamentally dangerous, physically risky, and even deadly.” Further, the article recommended pregnant people visit the deceptively named “pregnancy help centers,” another name for so-called crisis pregnancy centers that dissuade visitors from receiving abortions under the guise of providing actual support.
  • A January 20 Daily Caller article quoted AAPLOG’s Francis criticizing the embrace of medication abortion post-Roe as proof that “medicine, in general, is moving in a more pro-death direction.” The piece also cited Dr. Ingrid Skop, a representative from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, who similarly fearmongered about standard reproductive health care and stated that “the battle is not over and the battleground has shifted” after Roe, adding that medication abortion is “one of the things we are having to fight.”

In addition to right-wing media undermining mifepristone’s proven safety and efficacy, GOP politicians in Alabama and South Dakota have threatened criminal charges for dispensing or taking abortion medications, and a coalition of anti-abortion activists are suing to overturn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone.

Conservative media’s moral panic against mifepristone isn’t new: Many of the same narratives have been recycled from previous fearmongering when the medication was permanently approved for mail distribution in December 2021 and when Roe was officially overturned in June 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is medication abortion?

Medication abortion, also known as the abortion pill, is a form of early abortion caused by taking two different medications. It is an option for people who are within 10 weeks pregnant.

What is mifepristone?

Mifepristone is one of two medications used for medication abortions. It blocks the hormone progesterone needed for a pregnancy to continue.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Right-Wing Media Smear Student Loan Relief With Deception And Distortion

Right-Wing Media Smear Student Loan Relief With Deception And Distortion

Since President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for low-income and middle-class Americans, conservative media figures have launched a full-throated attack against loan forgiveness.

On Wednesday, the Department of Education released a statement that laid out its plan to relieve debt for both undergraduate and graduate borrowers. Americans annually making $125,000 or less or living in a joint household with an annual income of $250,000 or less are eligible to have $10,000 of federal student loan debt forgiven. Individuals who received the Pell Grant, which provides federal aid to low-income students, are eligible to have an additional $10,000 of student debt canceled. The Education Department also extended its pause on student loan repayment through December 31 and proposed that monthly repayments be capped at 5% of a borrower’s monthly income.

The amount of student debt in the United States has doubled in the last decade, and roughly one in five Americans have student loans. These loans represent drastic economic setbacks for borrowers as one of the greatest contributors to household debt. Over time, the overbearing stress associated with debt can also lead to negative psychological outcomes. On a wider scale, outstanding student loans can reduce consumer spending and diminish business growth. Canceling student debt aims to lessen these consequences and reduce wealth disparities among vulnerable populations most likely to borrow money for school such as nonwhite and first-generation students.

Despite these benefits, right-wing media figures have flooded online spaces and cable news with bad-faith takes and misleading commentary on student debt forgiveness. In reality, the cancellation of student debt marks a significant step toward closing wealth gaps and improving the lives of millions.

Right-wing claim: Loan forgiveness favors the rich

Reality: Most of the student aid relief will benefit those earning less than $75,000. The Biden administration’s plan to cancel student debt is targeted to assist largely low- and middle-income Americans struggling with debt. According to the Department of Education, “Among borrowers who are no longer in school, nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year.”

  • On Fox’s Outnumbered, former Trump White House press secretary and current Fox host Kayleigh McEnany said, “Make no mistake: This is a handout to the rich.”
  • Fox anchor Sandra Smith suggested that low-income Americans “are going to be on the hook” for the student debt of the upper class.
  • During the August 24 edition of The Five, Fox host Jesse Watters mocked loan forgiveness, saying, “I want to congratulate all the rich whites with graduate degrees who live on the coasts and are making six figures.” He also called Biden’s plan “reverse class warfare,” adding, “It's like you rob the poor to pay the rich.”
  • On Hannity, guest host Pete Hegseth and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) both framed debt cancellation as a “wealth transfer” that benefits the rich at the expense of middle America.

Right-wing claim: Inflation will be made worse by loan forgiveness

Reality: Any inflation caused by loan forgiveness is expected to be minimal and will be offset when debt payments resume in January. Right-wing media are largely reliant on a blog post for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), which argues that Biden’s decision will worsen inflation. According to the Roosevelt Institute, the CRFB purposefully distorted its deficit analysis, and the results actually indicate that any inflation from debt cancellation is not only minimal, but will be offset by payments restarting in January 2023.

Student debt cancellation is also more likely to allow recipients to either pay other debts or build savings, rather than increase spending. This will not impact inflation, but improve the immediate and future financial security of millions of Americans. This will allow longer-term benefits for the economy, as those individuals will be able to buy a house, have children, or start their own business.

  • During a panel on The Faulkner Focus, guest anchor Sandra Smith asked Fox News contributor Richard Fowler, “Doesn't this effort to forgive or cancel this student loan debt, doesn't it sort of undermine Congress' efforts to try to bring down inflation? Won't this government spending just lead to more high prices?”
  • Fox News contributor Brian Brenberg claimed that inflation reduction is “gone,” adding, “It wasn't true in the first place and it’s gone three times over now. So if you are one of those senators who made a deal because you wanted to promise the American people we will get some deficit reduction, guess what? You got run over by a truck. It was called student loan relief.”
  • Right-wing outlet Just the News published an article titled “Biden student loan plan expected to worsen inflation, benefit higher-income earners,” citing the flawed CRFB analysis.

Right-wing claim: Loan forgiveness is unfair to those without student debt

Reality: Forgiving student loans for those currently saddled with excessive debt is a small step in addressing a dire problem faced by millions — not a slap in the face to those who did not take out loans or already paid them back. As a column for the Los Angeles Times argues:

The truth, of course, is that in a healthy society government policy moves ahead by taking note of existing inequities and striving to address them. Following the implications of the “I paid, why shouldn’t you” camp to their natural conclusion means that we wouldn’t have Social Security, Medicare or the Affordable Care Act today.

Those programs were all designed to relieve Americans of what Franklin Roosevelt called “the hazards and vicissitudes of life.” Is it really sensible to say that we shouldn’t have them because before their enactment seniors were left to starve and suffer illness without assistance, and some families needed to buy health coverage in an individual market that was closed to those with medical conditions or grotesquely overpriced?

  • On America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Brian Brenberg rhetorically asked the anchors, “Why did you pay off your loans? How foolish are you to be responsible like this? This is the thing that sticks in your stomach, right? There is so much rank injustice here. If you paid off your loans, you are feeling like a fool.”
  • On Twitter, right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh claimed, “There is no such thing as student loan forgiveness. There is only student loan transferral, where the debt is transferred from the person who took out the loan to someone else who did not take out the loan.”
  • During America Reports, anchor John Roberts characterized loan forgiveness as something critics are calling “fundamentally unfair.” Fox contributor Joey Jones agreed, saying, “There is certainly a fairness element here that doesn’t pan out.” The network also displayed a tweet from Jones that read “I cannot believe I gave two legs for my tuition. What a dope I am,” alluding to Jones’ double leg amputation incurred during his service as a Marine.
  • On The Five, co-host Jeanine Pirro claimed, “My heart bleeds for the people who actually went out and paid for their loans, who went without things, whose families said, ‘I'm sorry, we can't afford your loans.’” She then revealed that her family paid for her education. “I didn't have to take out loans because they paid for them. But they worked hard for their money. This is a giveaway and it's disgusting.”
  • Fox contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier declared, “It took me about 10 years to pay off $300,000 worth of debt that I incurred through medical school,” before complaining that the plan to cancel student debt is “not fair, and it continues to widen that wage gap.”

Right-wing claim: Biden lacks the legal authority to cancel student debt

Reality: The Biden administration repeatedly outlined its ability to issue student loan forgiveness. In a document released by the Department of Education, officials argued that under the 2003 HEROES Act, the administration has the power “to waive or modify the rules on federal student loans during a presidentially declared national emergency, including the current pandemic.” Additionally, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice published a document that details the administration’s authority to cancel debt to alleviate financial hardship exacerbated by the pandemic.

  • On Fox’s The Five, co-host Jesse Watters deemed the cancellation of student debt “unconstitutional.” He also accused Biden of buying votes, saying, “You can’t raid the Treasury and cut checks to your favorite voters.” Watters asked, “Where did Biden get the power as the president to spend half a trillion dollars?”
  • During his Fox prime-time show, Watters claimed, “The president is just breaking the law and bribing voters and Congress doesn't care. … How is Joe raiding the Treasury behind Congress’ back and buying votes before an election not an abuse of power, not an obstruction of Congress?”
  • On Twitter, National Review senior political correspondent Jim Geraghty wrote, “The legal authority to do this just appeared out of nowhere magically!”
  • Fox host Laura Ingraham said that the loan forgiveness announcement adds “another example” to Biden’s “growing list of illegality.” A chyron during the segment read “Biden’s unconstitutional student loan scheme.”
  • Fox News contributor Karl Rove complained, “Where is the authority for the president to do this?”

Right-wing claim: Loan forgiveness will cost individual taxpayers an estimated $2,000 each

Reality: This is simply not how the U.S. tax system works. Conservative media are missing the context that the estimated figure is based on a report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation that averages the estimated cost to taxpayers of all incomes over a decade. The report also notes that this figure “is not a perfect proxy for cost, however, given the U.S. tax code is progressive and tax burdens are not evenly distributed across households.” For low-income taxpayers, the report estimates the average cost will be much lower than right-wing media are suggesting: The estimated cost for those making $50,000 or less annually is $158.27, and the estimated cost for those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 is $866.87.

  • Fox Business correspondent Hillary Vaughn repeated the claim that loan forgiveness will amount to “about $2,000 per taxpayer,” citing the National Taxpayers Union Foundation without context.
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters claimed that loan forgiveness amounts to “a war on the working class,” stating, “This loan cancellation will cost the average taxpayer over two grand a year.” In actuality, the report referenced by Watters estimates the cost to taxpayers over the span of 10 years.
  • During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Fox Business contributor Dan Roccato also used the $2,000 figure, claiming, “One estimate I saw last night was about two grand or so for the average taxpayer over the life of this thing.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
Fox News Critical race Theory

Fox News Lied About Critical Race Theory In 2021-- Over And Over Again

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Over the last year, conservatives spun “critical race theory” (CRT) into a key phrase in the national cultural and political landscape, marking a new battle in the unceasing culture wars. Right-wing media and hundreds of right-wing Facebook groups helped, using empty but dangerous and often racist rhetoric to depict CRT as a threat and energize the Republican base.

Critical race theory is a decades-old academic framework, typically taught in graduate-level courses, that explores how racism is structurally embedded in U.S. institutions. However, conservatives have co-opted the phrase to bash any discussion of systemic racism and racial justice efforts. In particular, right-wing activists have attacked curricula in K-12 classes, where critical race theory is not generally taught. Anti-CRT advocates instead push for children to be miseducated by a whitewashed version of history that ignores systemic racism and the culturally diverse history of the country, including contributions of Black people and other people of color. The push against CRT has also converged with anti-LGBTQ movements, with many of the same tactics used to attack LGBTQ inclusion and specifically target trans individuals.

Right-wing media’s manufactured hysteria about CRT has helped spawn bans on books and on teaching certain concepts in many states and school districts, undermining educational standards for American students. As of December, 29 states have introduced bills or taken other steps to limit how public school teachers can discuss racism and sexism in the classroom, and 13 states have enacted such restrictions. This strategy is part of a long history of white backlash against racial justice movements in which right-wing media have gleefully led the way. Right-wing attacks on public education also dovetail with a larger conservative push to privatize K-12 schooling.

Republicans’ electoral strategy around CRT dates back to at least the 2012 election, when conservative media figure Andrew Breitbart tried to accuse then-President Barack Obama of embracing “anti-white” views by linking him with prominent critical race theory scholars. A decade later, GOP candidates in state and local elections in 2021 (sometimes successfully) embraced anti-CRT rhetoric to sow panic among their voter base and gain support for their campaigns. Hysteria over CRT has also triggered discord in school board meetings across the country, inspiring dozens of recall efforts and spurring anti-CRT figures to run for school board seats. In some cases, right-wing activists and parents have harassed and sent death threats to school board members and administrators, driving some to resign. Meanwhile, Fox News has already framed CRT as a “new hot-button issue” going into the 2022 midterm elections.

A feedback loop of astroturfing campaigns, cozy relationships between conservative activists and right-wing media, and online disinformation has spread lies that undermine public education and obscure the truth about structural racism in America.

Here are some examples by the numbers:

  • Fox News started its CRT narrative in the summer of 2020 and has been hammering it for nearly18 months. Fox News has hosted Chris Rufo, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and one of the primary drivers of the CRT panic, at least 52 times since July 2020. Rufo started ginning up controversy around critical race theory at the time of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. Earlier this year, he admitted that conservatives have opportunistically “appropriated” the CRT label for political purposes.
  • Fox News mentioned CRT over 3,900 times in 2021 — including at least 900 times in June alone.
  • Fox News mentioned CRT at least 260 times during the week of the 2021 election, October 31 to November 6.
  • Fox News has mentioned CRT over twice as much as MSNBC and CNN combined in 2021.

Here's How Fox News Turned CRT into a Boogeyman

critical race theory

Molly Butler / Media Matterss3.amazonaws.com

  • Between March 1 and June 30, Fox News ran nearly 80 segments on anger over CRT in a single Virginia school district, amounting to 4 1/2 hours of airtime.
  • Fox News has also interviewed at least 15 so-called concerned parents -- who are actually right-wing anti-CRT activists -- without identifying their political connections. These political operatives appeared on Fox shows at least 119 times in 2021 alone to talk about CRT.
  • Fox News filmed at least one choreographed campaign stop with a local right-wing anti-CRT politician, passing the segment off as a network correspondent meeting with regular people in a diner.
  • Anti-CRT group Moms for Liberty has appeared on or been favorably mentioned by right-wing media at least six times. Moms for Liberty's co-founder has attempted to derail desegregation efforts in a Florida school district, and the group recommends a book by a slavery sympathizer as a “helpful” text “when discussing the founding documents” of the U.S.
  • From June through October, right-wing network One America News (OAN) aired at least 15 attacks on local school boards nationwide related to CRT.
  • In the four days after the Justice Department announced it would offer assistance to local authorities aiding school board members who were facing increased threats due to the anti-CRT outcry, Fox News aired at least 60 segments on the news.
  • On its daytime programs from April 23 to April 30, Fox News ran at least 12 segments on a false claim that so-called woke administrators in Virginia were cutting advanced high school math classes as part of a confrontation over “controversial ideas surrounding equity and race.”
  • After Fox’s Tucker Carlson interviewed the founder of the anti-CRT group No Left Turn in Education, who has espoused blatantly toxic and bigoted views, the group’s Facebook page went from fewer than 200 followers to over 30,000 followers in just one day.
  • At least 116 Facebook groups specifically opposing CRT have amplified right-wing ideological agendas related to school policies and even organized protests at board meetings.
  • From the November 2020 election through May 17, nearly 90 percent of Facebook posts about CRT came from right-wing pages posting about U.S. political news.
Article reprinted with permission from Media Matters