Right-wing media vilify Black Lives Matter as the movement grows

In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd nearly one month ago, protests continue to unfold as people across the country are examining the role that systemic racism plays in society. And as the Black Lives Matter movement gains support among the public, Fox News and others in right-wing media are focused on demonizing it, fearmongering about the movement’s intentions and using racist dog whistles to discredit it.

Black Lives Matter was initially founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the man who killed Travyon Martin, gaining prominence in 2014 during a wave of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of Michael Brown. In 2016, a Pew Research poll found that only 18% of adults strongly supported the Black Lives Matter movement and 25% somewhat supported it.

The New York Times reported on June 10 that a majority of American voters now support the movement by a margin of 28 points, up from a 17-point margin before the recent protests began. A new Monmouth poll similarly found that public opinion is in favor of the central message of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nevertheless, conservative media personalities have been focused on demonizing Black Lives Matter, describing the movement as “totalitarian” and consisting of radical “anarchists” who aim to destroy American society. Right-wing commentary has also been rife with racist dog whistles, with media figures describing protests as “cannibalistic” and a “ghetto civil war” that has been “hijacked” by “thug[s].”

Here are some examples of how conservative media have been demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement over the last two weeks:

  • Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that the Black Lives Matter movement is an “insidious” attempt to “end liberal democracy and challenge Western civilization itself.”
Video file

Citation From the June 22, 2020, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight:

  • The Washington Times’ Cheryl Chumley warned against “pandering to the pretensions of Black Lives Matter overlords,” fearmongering that it will lead to “Big Government Guns … bringing so-called solutions for peace wrapped in collectivist, controlling bows.”
  • On The Ingraham Angle, Trump personal lawyer and podcast host Rudy Giuliani said that Black Lives Matter is “anarchist and anti-American” and that it “wants to come and take your house away from you.”  
  • Giuliani also fearmongered about Black Lives Matter on Twitter:
  • The Federalist published an article titled “The Two Very Different Meanings Of ‘Black Lives Matter.’” Author David Marcus argued, “One is a general statement of support for civil rights; the other is a loose Marxist organization with a clear radical agenda.”
  • The Federalist published another article the next day arguing, “Christians Don’t Need The Black Lives Matter Movement To Defeat Evil.”
  • Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera compared the Black Lives Matter protests to a “ghetto civil war” and complained that “because of political correctness, we don't talk about it because people are afraid that they'll be considered not woke."
Video file

Citation From the June 22, 2020, edition of Fox News' Hannity

  • Washington Times columnist and frequent Fox guest Victor Davis Hanson published an op-ed titled “The irrelevance of Black Lives Matter and death of cultural revolutions.” Hanson argued that “inevitably, cultural revolutions sputter when they turn cannibalistic or if they're hijacked by a thug.”
  • Washington Times published an article arguing that “for its most radical devotees, Black Lives Matter is a revolution, and no revolution would be complete without a cultural purge.” The author used a quote that Cornell law professor William A. Jacobson gave to Fox News saying that Black Lives Matter is “a really terrifying reign of terror” and “totalitarian in nature.” (Jacobson has come under fire for his recent comments.)
  • The Federalist published an op-ed titled “Socialists like Black Lives Matter weaponize our fears of loneliness.” The author called the movement a “Marxist scam” that “uses your natural fear of social rejection to force conformity and compliance with its goals.”
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk called Black Lives Matter “an organization that is committed to keeping black people perpetually poor.”