In a latest brazen move, Fox News is starting to brag about the role it has played in promoting the far-right trucker convoys and blockades in Canada, touting so-called “civil disobedience” that has run the gamut from merely obnoxious unpermitted protests to actual coordinated criminal activities aimed at sabotaging the economy.
Over the past weeks, Fox News has aggressively promoted the trucker convoys, which are led by people calling for the end of all public health measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. Media Matters President Angelo Carusone explained Sunday on MSNBC that “it went from an online movement that was largely propped up by these synthetic and fake accounts, to now Fox [building] some real buzz and demand.” Fox has also lied about the level of worker support in Canada itself, and prime-time host Tucker Carlson celebrated the convoys as “the single most successful human rights protest in a generation.”
The most troubling aspect of the convoy movement has been the instigation of blockades at U.S.-Canada border crossings, which began at a relatively remote site on the Alberta-Montana line (and where armed militants have now been arrested) and spread to other higher-traffic sites in Manitoba and British Columbia. The single worst blockade, however, was organized at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Ontario to Michigan, which led to shutdowns at American auto plants after assembly components shipped from nearby facilities in Canada became stuck across the border.
Following announcements that law enforcement would soon begin removing protesters illegally blockading the bridge, Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity condemned this response as “the government starting a fight,” warning that “people may die.” In fact, police arrested over two dozen people at the Ambassador Bridge blockade on Sunday, with traffic resuming on the bridge the next day, along with a heavy police presence in order to ensure its continued operation.
Hundreds of miles away, however, the country’s capital city of Ottawa continues to be overrun with convoy protesters, while the city’s own residents are now counter-blockading against the convoy being able to grow any further.
Late Monday morning, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner proclaimed: “The fight for freedom will go on — that is the rallying cry from Canadian truckers protesting vaccine mandates.” Faulkner then mentioned that police had made arrests in order to reopen the Ambassador Bridge, and she followed it up with a clip of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) declaration last week to the right-wing site The Daily Signal that he hoped for trucker convoys to come to America and “clog things up,” which he described as “civil disobedience.”
Faulkner then spoke with Fox correspondent Alexis McAdams, who was live from Ottawa, and boasted about the network finding allies among the convoy participants.
“They really like Fox News here, I can tell you,” McAdams said, “because they think that both sides of their stories are being told, and especially happy with the coverage that we've been giving where we’re talking about how it's really not so much about anti-vaccine for these truckers — 90% of the truckers union, Harris, is vaccinated. For them, it’s about freedom, and they want to go back to their daily lives.”
While claiming that Fox’s reporting had been appreciated for its accuracy and evenhandedness, McAdams falsely made it appear as if trucking unions supported the convoys. In fact, Teamsters Canada has opposed them from the start, and the overall effect of the blockades has been to obstruct the great mass of truckers who have still been trying to do their jobs.
Later, on Outnumbered, Fox News contributor and The Hill media columnist Joe Concha critiqued people who oppose these convoys in the United States: “The fact that the American people are so squarely on the side of the Canadian government here, and not the working-class people who are simply voicing their concerns about freedom, that speaks volumes.” (Concha did not show any concern for the working-class people still working as truckers who were obstructed by the blockades at border crossings.)
Then, on Fox’s America Reports, McAdams did a friendly interview with a convoy participant, and guest co-anchor Trace Gallagher spoke with Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, who joked about the network’s role in covering the demonstrations.
“I’m getting so many communications in various ways from Canadians saying, ‘We watch so much Fox, can you start doing the weather report for us here in Canada?’”
Kilmeade and Gallagher also discussed whether convoys and blockades could occur in the United States, though Kilmeade said that could be avoided if Democratic governors continue to roll back pandemic restrictions: “Those are the types of things that would stop any convoy from getting momentum.”
Politico reported last week that convoys were unlikely to catch on in this country for a number of reasons. American truckers are already not required to get vaccinated unless they cross an international border, and they are more likely to have complaints about other issues such as the difficulty in finding safe places to park and sleep.
This sort of reporting may be shortsighted, however. The issue is not whether most truckers would support a convoy and blockade movement — when all evidence indicates that the convoys in Canada are an isolated minority to begin with. The question is whether Fox News and other right-wing media outlets might be able to incite further lawbreaking and then cheer it on once it’s picked up any momentum.
Essentially, this is another example of the overall phenomenon in which Fox is trapped in a feedback loop chasing increasingly radical programming. Right-wing media outlets already helped former President Donald Trump rally supporters for his attempted coup, and now they’ve energized the illegal occupation of a large chunk of a foreign capital city along with the attempted economic sabotage of border crossings. Where does this end?