Fox News' coverage of the Wisconsin protests over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate public employees' collective bargaining rights, among other things, has been marked with repeated attacks on the protesters. However, by contrast, Fox has relentlessly promoted and even encouraged viewers to participate in tea party and "Tax Day" protests over the past few years.
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Fox Coverage Of WI Protesters Marked By Attacks On Union Members, Supporters
Beck: WI Protests Are "About The People Looking To Create Chaos On The Backs Of The Worker." On the February 17 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck said of the Wisconsin protests: "The unions claim that the cuts will affect teachers, but it's not the everyday teacher that this story is really all about. It's about the people looking to create chaos on the backs of the worker when the world's focus is on Egypt." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/17/11]
Malkin: Protesters Engaging In "Thuggery." On the February 17 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin attacked the protesters, saying, "If this brave Republican governor can stand up to the immense amount of power and thuggery, essentially, by these unions, it bodes very well for other states." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/17/11]
Napolitano Calls Wisconsin Protests "Union Temper Tantrums." On the February 17 edition his Fox Business show Freedom Watch, host Andrew Napolitano said, "This is the second day in a row union temper tantrums have ... deprived Wisconsin kids of their education." [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 2/17/11]
McGuirk: Protesters Are "Act[ing] Like A Bunch Of Selfish Spoiled Europeans." On the February 17 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity, Fox Business' Imus in the Morning producer Bernard McGuirk said of the protesters: "For these guys, the people in Wisconsin, these protesters to act like a bunch of selfish spoiled Europeans is almost embarrassing." [Fox News, Hannity, 2/17/11, accessed via Nexis]
Beck Sees "The Beginning Of The American Insurrection" In Wisconsin Protests. On the February 17 edition of his radio show, Beck said that the Wisconsin protests are "the beginning of the American insurrection." He went on to add, "These unions are calling for Egypt-style protests on the street." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/17/11]
Beck Cites WI Protests To Claim That "Evil [Is] Spreading Around The Globe." On the February 16 edition of his Fox News show, Beck stated that protests in Madison, WI, as well as in the Middle East and Mexico are part of "evil spreading around the globe." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/16/11]
Fox & Friends Co-Hosts Dismiss Protesters' Demands, Say It's "Simple" To "Eliminate Collective Bargaining." On the February 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade discussed the protests in Wisconsin and dismissed the protesters' demands. Doocy said that Walker's proposal is "simple. He wants to eliminate collective bargaining, he wants public employees to pay half their pension cost and at least 12 percent of their health care coverage." From the show:
KILMEADE: Wisconsin is a state, like many states in this country, that has a bit of a budget deficit, to the tune of over $100 million. So one way in which new Gov. Scott Walker wants to close that gap is to go revisit the public employee deals, government worker deals that have been cut between union workers and the state government. So, why not put that forward? Why not have them pay into their pensions? Why not have them pay into their retirement, health care, because we, together, have to balance the budget, and the people have spoken out in November. They want Republicans to do the cutting. And that was the easy part.
DOOCY: That was the easy part. And now you're looking at these crazy pictures out of the state capital from yesterday. Twenty-five thousand people showed up. John Fund's going to join us in a couple minutes. Wait until you hear -- his sources are telling him these are not all union members who are showing up in these pictures right here. But the proposal -- it's simple. He wants to eliminate collective bargaining, he wants public employees to pay half their pension cost and at least 12 percent of their health care coverage. For a teacher --
KILMEADE: Join the rest of the world.
DOOCY: Right, that's still a good deal. It would amount to essentially 7 percent of their pay. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/18/11]
O'Reilly: "Insurrection In Wisconsin" Means "Class Warfare" Could Be "About To Break Out In America." On the February 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, during his "Talking Points" segment, host Bill O'Reilly referred to the protests as the "[i]nsurrection in Wisconsin" and said, " 'Talking Points' believes that class warfare is about to break out in America":
O'REILLY: Insurrection in Wisconsin: That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points" memo. Thousands of state workers are objecting to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's call for an immediate eight percent cut in their benefits and things got nasty today.
Well, the state of Wisconsin has a $3.6 billion- short fall through 2013 and simply cannot afford to pay its bills. This is happening in many states and public workers are the first ones to take the hit. Obviously that's not going over well in Wisconsin.
But if state workers will not give back some of their benefits, there is no solution to the fiscal crisis anywhere. You can't raise taxes anymore. The folks are tapped out, right?
Where I live on Long Island some elderly people are actually selling their homes because they can't sell the high property tax rate. The solution in bankrupt states is where these two agree to some kind of give back perhaps over a few years, that way they can look for other jobs in the private sector if they don't believe they are being compensated fairly in the public arena. I think that would be fair.
"Talking Points" believes that class warfare is about to break out in America. Union benefits are strangling not only state budgets but also the private economy.
Yes, workers do need protection. They need some kind of security in the marketplace. But, the cold truth is, that federal and state workers have reached the top of their earning pyramid. Bankruptcy looms in California and other states and give-backs are coming. The blow back to that will be nasty.
And that's the memo. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/17/11, accessed via Nexis]
But Fox Has Aggressively Hyped Tea Party Protests And Protesters
Media Matters April '09 Report Found Fox Aired At Least 20 Segments And 73 Promos On Tea Party Protests In Lead Up To Tax Day Protests. In April 2009, Media Matters reported that Fox News had frequently aired segments not only covering tea party protests but encouraging viewers to get involved. An April 15, 2009, study found that from April 6-13, Fox had aired 20 segments and 73 in-show and commercial promotions on the tea party protests scheduled for April 15. Many of those segments aired during one of Fox's supposedly objective news shows, America's Newsroom. [Media Matters, 4/8/09, 4/15/09]
Fox News Hosts Attended "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." In the days leading up to the "Tax Day" protests, Fox repeatedly aired on-screen text describing protests Fox news hosts would be attending as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." [Media Matters, 4/9/09]
Fox's Tax Day Coverage Promoted Protesters' Cause, Urged Viewer Involvement. As Media Matters has previously documented, Fox News and Fox Business also hyped the tea party during its coverage of the "Tax Day" protests on April 15, 2009. Hosts and guests on several shows, including the supposedly objective Happening Now and America's Newsroom, promoted the protesters' cause and urged viewers to join the protests and visit tea party websites. [Media Matters, 4/16/09]
Hannity Scheduled To Speak At Ticketed Tea Party Event; "Furious" Fox Execs Forced Cancellation Of His Appearance. Leading up to the April 15, 2010, "Tax Day" tea party protests, Fox host Sean Hannity was scheduled to tape his April 15 show at the Cincinnati Tea Party's 2010 Tax Day Tea Party, which required paid admission. The appearance was promoted on 18 different editions of his Fox News program. On April 15, 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that "[a]ngry Fox News executives" ordered Hannity to drop his plans to film from the rally. [Media Matters, 4/15/10]
Fox News Hosts Participated In More Than A Dozen Tea Party Events. Despite News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch's statement that he didn't think Fox News "should be supporting the Tea Party," Fox News hosts participated in more than a dozen tea party events the week of April 15, 2010. [Media Matters, 4/15/10]
Fox Repeatedly Promoted Glenn Beck's 8-28 Rally. Although Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy declared that "Glenn Beck -- not Fox News" was hosting Beck's August 28, 2010, "Restoring Honor" rally, Fox hosts repeatedly hyped Beck's rally. [Media Matters, 8/24/10]