Donald Trump has been criticized for failing to plainly denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazis, instead always adding qualifiers to blame ‘both sides’ or otherwise excuse or deflect blame from white nationalists whose rhetoric fueled violence and resulted in one death at last year’s Unite the Right rally. However, Fox News, which typically supports Trump and a conservative viewpoint, is also facing criticism for the way the channel’s news and opinion shows and hosts cover these acts.
Last year, after the rally, Newsweek covered Fox‘s reaction, noting that the network chose to blame other media producers, rather than discuss racism and the rise of neo-Nazi rhetoric since Trump’s election.
[A]ccording to Fox News, it was the media, not Trump or the racists in Charlottesville, who should be judged after one woman was killed and at least 19 others were injured at the weekend rally.
A year later, the slant continues, as white supremacists again rally, this time in Washington D.C., with the focus anywhere but on the KKK and neo-Nazis themselves.
While white supremacists gather in D.C., Fox turns their attention to Charlottesville, where a permit was denied for the white nationalist group. Here, they find instead a different protest, by people disappointed that the police didn’t intervene to prevent violent attacks on counter-protesters by white nationalists last year.
Antifa mob turns anti-police in Charlottesville as more tense exchanges are expected today marking the 1-year anniversary of violent clashes pic.twitter.com/sQiCctvyUz
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 12, 2018
Though these are individuals expressing disappointment with a perceived failure to ‘protect and serve,’ Fox & Friends spins it as an attack on police.
It’s not that Fox never mentions neo-Nazis and white supremacists. It’s that the focus is usually elsewhere. For instance, one story mentions white nationalists briefly but focuses on the groups being denied service by ride-sharing companies, restaurants, lodging, and social media sites, rather than what the groups are doing themselves.
In fact, as neo-nazis gather in D.C., Fox turns much of its attention to Charlottesville, where the white nationalist presence is not. In another clip, a reporter interviews a few bystanders who suggest that the previous rally was just “a few hundred idiots” and that the real problem was anyone paying attention to them; and that the real victims here are the police who have a “lose-lose situation” and “can’t win either way.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 11, 2018
Media Matters points out that this has been part of a pattern.
Fox & Friends Sunday’s only coverage of the August 12 white supremacist rally in Washington D.C. mentioned only that “tense protests” were expected in Washington, and focused largely on an alleged “antifa mob” in Charlottesville, VA
While organizer Jason Kessler calls the D.C. rally a fight for ‘white civil rights‘ and promotes the white nationalist talking points that “European Americans” are facing reduced population and destruction of history and culture, Fox isn’t covering how this rhetoric endangers minorities. Instead, they want us to know that one time young conservative Charlie Kirk went out in public and learned he isn’t liked, and that’s proof that left-wing voters are the real bad guys.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 12, 2018
It’s not even a new story — Fox covered it when it happened, almost a week ago. Somehow, though, it’s more urgent than a gathering in D.C. to promote white dominance.
The New Republic in January described Fox as helping to create a ‘feedback loop’ with the president, allowing white supremacists to openly spout their views on the network, which emboldens Trump to publicly express similar views, again prompting more white supremacists to feel safe speaking openly.
This is true. However, Fox is doing more than that. They’re actively avoiding content that could be seen as condemning racists, even if that means not covering a major event taking place in the nation’s capital. Instead, they’re seeking out lesser acts by other groups or individuals, and reporting these to the exclusion of neo-Nazis, even if it means rehashing week-old propaganda.