Fox News has come in for criticism over a promotional video in which opinion hosts echo Donald Trump’s baseless claims about the presidential election, which he lost to Joe Biden but which he refuses to concede.
“Oh my god,” Andrew Laurence of Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog, wrote on Twitter. “Fox is running a promo of their ‘opinion’ hosts casting doubt on the election results and I guess trying to keep their rabid viewers sated.”
Oliver Darcy, a media reporter for CNN, said the video showed executives at the Rupert Murdoch-owned channel “really have no shame”.
In the short video, an announcer introduces a montage of “the voices America trusts”. Laura Ingraham is shown first, saying: “These legal efforts are critical.”
That is a reference to cases Trump has mounted in key battleground states, alleging without evidence that voter fraud and ballot irregularities occurred, and seeking to overturn results via recounts.
Such quixotic efforts have met with little success and experts say they are almost guaranteed to fail. More than 5m votes down in the popular vote, Trump lost the electoral college to Biden by 306-232, the score by which he beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 in what he claimed was a landslide.
On the Fox News video, Tucker Carlson appears next, saying: “There are apparent irregularities.”
“The media mob, and the Democrats, they lie,” says Sean Hannity.
“Speaking up for you, and the issues that matter most to the people,” says the announcer.
“They thought there would be a blue wave, not the case,” says Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends, a morning show favoured by Trump. In fact Doocy’s comment points to an electoral truth: that Trump attracted the most votes of any sitting president, staving off an expected landslide defeat, and that Republicans made gains at state level and in the US House and look set to retain control of the Senate.
“You’re gonna see something even bigger than Trump in 2022 and 2024,” says Greg Gutfeld, referring to the next two election years.
“The truth does need to come out,” says Ingraham.
“Can we speak freely, again, can we have America back?” asks Carlson.
“We the people deserve better,” says Hannity.
“Fox News,” the announcer says. “America is watching.”
Trump has attacked Fox News since the election, in which it was quick to call Arizona, a key state, for Biden, then joined other media organisations in calling the whole race for the Democrat last Saturday.
“Fox News daytime ratings have completely collapsed,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was Fox News!”
Darcy, of CNN, wrote that the Fox News video “appears to be part of a bid to hold on to its bleeding audience – an audience that refuses to believe reality, in large part because Fox has primed millions to distrust credible news sources”.
Fox News has countered that its ratings remain strong, saying in a recent release it “finished the month of October as the most-watched cable network in both total day and primetime total viewers … notching 52 months in a row in the top spot”.
According to Media Matters, Trump’s conspiracy theories have crossed into Fox News’ “straight” news operation.
In the four days after the result was called, the watchdog said, Fox News “cast doubt on or pushed conspiracy theories about the election results at least 255 times. A review by Media Matters found 111 such claims on Fox’s ‘straight news’ shows and 144 claims on the network’s opinion shows”.
“Where are the adults at Fox?” Darcy asked. “Why aren’t they getting their talent under control? Well, this ad makes it clear: The executives approve their talent behaving the way they have. In fact, they’re so proud of the undemocratic commentary, they’re happy to showcase it in an ad. They really have no shame.”
Fox News did not offer comment on its promotional video.