Trump in court
Molly Butler/Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox News largely ignored an appeals court ruling that Trump is not immune from criminal prosecution

Fox spent just 10 minutes on the story, over 9 times less than CNN and MSNBC

Fox News has largely ignored an appeals court ruling stating that Trump doesn't have broad immunity from criminal prosecution, dedicating only 10 minutes of coverage to the story in the wake of the breaking news, compared to 1 hour and 39 minutes and 1 hour and 34 minutes on CNN and MSNBC, respectively.

The ruling comes as a rebuke to the former president's claims that he shouldn't be held accountable for plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which one of the appeals court judges noted would seemingly allow a president to have a “political rival” assassinated without being prosecuted.

  • After the news of the ruling came out during the 10 a.m. hour of February 6, Fox News dedicated just 10 minutes to the story. CNN and MSNBC dedicated much more time to the ruling, airing 1 hour and 39 minutes and 1 hour and 34 minutes, respectively.

  • Cable news coverage of Trump's claim to immunity being rejected by a federal appeals court
  • Fox News has repeatedly ignored — and misled its viewers about — Trump's various legal issues, part of a long pattern of hiding Trump's extremism from its viewers. Yet several Fox figures have themselves disputed claims of presidential immunity or called for President Joe Biden to be prosecuted criminally.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for either of the terms “Trump” or “former president” within close proximity to any of the terms “trial,” “supreme,” “court,” “election,” “Washington,” “D.C.,” “conspiracy,” “defraud,” or “Capitol” or any variation of any of the terms “rule,” “immunity,” “appeal,” “prosecute,” “January 6,” or “insurrection” from 10 a.m. EST February 6, 2024,  just before a D.C. federal appeals court rejected Trump's immunity claims, through 1 p.m. EST February 6 , 2024.

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when the ruling rejecting former President Donald Trump's presidential immunity claims to shield himself from insurrection charges was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the ruling. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the ruling with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned the ruling without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the ruling scheduled to air later in the broadcast.