Fox News Turns 20: Two Decades Of Hate, Misogyny, And Smears Disguised As Journalism

Fox News Turns 20: Two Decades Of Hate, Misogyny, And Smears Disguised As Journalism

Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

Fox News Channel, the brainchild of Nixon operative Roger Ailes and bankrolled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, launched on October 7, 1996. In the ensuing two decades, the right-wing network has released a torrent of hateful messages, misogyny, and fraudulent smears, all in the guise of journalism.

In reality, Fox News is an enforcement arm of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

Fox News has time and time again been a malignant force, utilizing its airwaves to attack progressive activists and politicians, elevate conservative activists and officials, and slant facts and information -- sometimes completely inventing it out of whole cloth -- in service of a right-wing conservative agenda.

While Fox has steadily grown in influence within the conservative movement, its star has considerably faded as a force within the wider media since its height during the Bush presidency.

After having devoted dozens of hours of airtime to Donald Trump, massively assisting his quest to secure the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, network chief Roger Ailes was ousted from his position when a slew of women accused him of perpetrating years and years of sexual harassment at the network.

Former anchor Gretchen Carlson, reportedly armed with audio tapes of Ailes, alleged that he had repeatedly sexually harassed her and demoted her when she refused his advances. Soon at least 25 other women came forward with similar stories to Carlson’s about Ailes’ behavior, and it was reported that prime-time host Megyn Kelly was also included among Ailes purported targets. Ailes no longer runs the day-to-day operations of Fox News, but his top lieutenants who allegedly helped to cover up his behavior remain in charge, while Ailes is now advising the campaign of the candidate his network helped to build.

Here is an overview of some of the lowlights of Fox’s 20 years on the air:

1996

Fox News anchor endorsed Bob Dole for president in the Republican National Committee’s official magazine

1997

Fox News producer resigned after an executive told him to play down statistics showing a lack of social progress among blacks

1998

Fox employees said management made them “cook the facts” to tilt news stories to the right

1999

Fox gave TV show to internet gossip Matt Drudge

2000

Fox News poll asked whether Bill Clinton or Al Gore was “most likely to cheat at cards”

Fox News employed George W. Bush cousin John Ellis who prematurely called election in favor of Bush

During the 2000 recount, Fox anchor John Gibson complained “Democratic lawyers have flooded Florida” because Bush favored tort reform

2001

Fox ran a special called “Vanishing Freedoms” that argued the United Nations was “taking over” private property

Fox’s Special Report had Republican and Democratic guests at an 8-to-1 ratio

2002

Fox host Bill O’Reilly said 66 percent of people supported invading Iraq without UN support when the real number was 37 percent

2003

Bill O’Reilly said the Iraq War would “not last more than a week”

Fox anchor said the network was “very reluctant to show these pictures” of an anti-Iraq War protest

O’Reilly said that “once the war” in Iraq began, those opposed to the action should “shut up”

O’Reilly argued that the U.S. military should “flatten Baghdad”

Fox falsely reported that a “huge chemical weapon factory” had been found in Iraq

Fox anchor Brit Hume said “nobody seriously argued” that Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction

Fox executive’s memo told the entire network to note the “political courage and tactical cunning” of President George W. Bush “in our reporting through the day”

O’Reilly cut off the microphone of anti-war activist Jeremy Glick, whose father was killed on 9/11

2004

Fox chief political correspondent wrote and published a fake news story making fun of Democratic candidate John Kerry on FoxNews.com

Fox executive wrote memo telling anchors to downplay Abu Ghraib story

Fox News aired less of the Democratic Convention than any other cable news network

Fox claimed that Christmas was “under siege”

2005

Fox News doctored AP copy to mimic language preferred by the Bush White House

Fox News aired 58 segments promoting the “War on Christmas”

Fox used a TV psychic to claim Terri Schiavo was “clear” on what was happening around her

2006

Host Bill O’Reilly said same-sex marriage was linked to interspecies relationships

Fox correspondent called waterboarding “a pretty efficient mechanism to get someone to talk”

Fox argued that a civil war in Iraq could be “a good thing”

2007

Fox hosted a “body language expert” who accused Hillary Clinton of exhibiting “evil laughter”

Fox & Friends reported on comments from Michelle Obama with the term “the claws come out”

Fox News used a photo of Rep. Harold Ford while talking about Barack Obama

Fox host Brian Kilmeade said Barack Obama “went to a madrassa” as a child

2008

Fox anchor asked if Obamas engaged in “a terrorist fist jab”

Fox News executive pushed on-air lies claiming Barack Obama promoted socialism

Fox contributor Newt Gingrich warned of “gay and secular fascism”

Fox contributor Liz Trotta remarked that she wished somebody would "knock off" both Osama Bin Laden and then-candidate Barack Obama

2009

Ailes reportedly said he sees the network as “as the Alamo” against President Obama

Beck said President Obama is a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people”

Beck said Obama’s agenda was based on “reparations”

Beck imitated Obama pouring gasoline on the “average American”

Beck pretended to poison Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Fox organized and promoted anti-Obama “tea party” protests

Host Sean Hannity said conservative protest attracted 20,000 when Capitol police said it was 4,000

Fox contributor Dick Morris used the network to raise money for a PAC that was paying him

Fox plagiarized a GOP press release and passed it off as its own research

2010

Beck questioned whether Obama was really a Christian

Beck said Obama returned a Churchill bust to England because he hates the British

Beck said, “There will be rivers of blood if we don’t have values and principles”

Beck said the Obama administration might kill “10 percent” of the population

Fox host Brian Kilmeade said “all terrorists are Muslims”

2011

Beck said the “American left” is “funding terrorists or working with terrorists”

Fox hosts said the ownership of appliances negates the effects of poverty

Fox hired Sarah Palin; Roger Ailes commented: “I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings”

Multiple Fox News shows pushed racist birther conspiracy about Barack Obama

Fox headline: “Obama’s Hip-Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs”

Fox hosts blamed SpongeBob Squarepants for “pushing a global warming agenda”

2012

Fox contributor Geraldo Rivera said Trayvon Martin’s hoodie is “as much responsible” for his death as shooter George Zimmerman

Fox analyst Karl Rove refused to accept that President Obama won Ohio in the election

Fox & Friends claimed that President Obama had a diplomatic meeting with a pirate

Fox contributor compared food stamps to a diet plan

2013

Host Megyn Kelly asserted that Jesus and Santa Claus are white

Fox contributors said men should have the dominant role in the home

At least nine Fox contributors used the network to test the waters before running for office

2014

Fox’s evening lineup aired nearly 1,100 segments on the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath from 2012-14

Fox hosts described torture as humiliating “a few terrorists” and subjecting them to ”a little bit of cold”

Fox producer Jesse Watters said the statutory rape of a child isn’t as bad if the female perpetrator is attractive

Fox host Tucker Carlson said reporting statutory rape is “whiny”

2015

Fox News told young children to run toward active shooters

Fox contributor called President Obama "a total pussy"

Fox’s prime-time lineup demonized the Black Lives Matter movement

Fox host Steve Doocy complained about the controversy around an ad suggesting date rape: “Remember … when people used to make jokes?”

Fox contributor Brit Hume blamed “the deregulation of sex” for campus sexual assaults

Fox co-host Stacey Dash said some campus sexual assault victims are “bad girls … who like to be naughty”

2016

Host Sean Hannity spent an entire week promoting Clinton health conspiracies

Fox cited online polls favoring Donald Trump after calling them “worthless”

Fox figures attacked the idea that debate moderators would fact-check candidates

Fox promoted Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory that the election would be “rigged”

Fox figures defended Roger Ailes against sexual harassment allegations, then Fox settled the claim

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