Coverage of violent crime on Fox News plummeted 63% in the week of the midterm elections compared to the week before citizens cast their votes, according to Media Matters.
The left-leaning watchdog said the Rupert Murdoch-owned network aired 71 weekday segments about violent crime as ballots were cast and counted, down from 193 in the week prior. While crime reports increased this week, with 74 reports through Wednesday (including killings at the University of Virginia and the University of Idaho) — MMA pointed out that the coverage was less focused on depicting high crime rates in Democratic-led urban areas.
The tally also reflects a 50% drop from the week after Labor Day, traditionally seen as the start of the fall campaign season.
“Fox was open in its strategy of using violent crime as a political cudgel against Democrats throughout the midterms,” Media Matters said Friday. “Driven in part by Fox host Tucker Carlson’s calls for Republicans to run on the issue, the network engaged in a monthslong 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.”
Carlson, notably, draws a more Democratic audience than much of the rest of Fox News.
Representatives for Fox News did not comment to TheWrap on the Media Matters’ report.
Media Matters’ data showed that on the weeks between Labor Day and the election, Fox News averaged 141 weekday violent crime stories. That ramped up to 187 and 193 segments in the two weeks prior to Election Day. The data reflected the organization’s internal database of all original weekday programming on Fox News airing between 6 a.m. and midnight.
Crime stories increased slightly this week in the wake of the fatal shooting of three football players at the University of Virginia and the mysterious deaths of four students at the University of Idaho, Media Matters said, “but the coverage was notably less focused on painting Democratic cities as crime-infested.”
“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,” the watchdog wrote. “Instead, these segments often focused on attacking progressive district attorneys and candidates across the country.”
It compared the drop-off to a similar plunge in coverage after the 2018 midterms, when in the weeks leading up to the vote, Fox News focused heavily on “migrant caravans” heading to the U.S. border.
“The network went all in fearmongering about “migrant caravans” in the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterms,” Media Matters said, “only to completely drop the subject right after.”