After several days of heavily promoting a Staten Island, New York, bar for flouting COVID-19 guidelines, Fox News is still touting Mac’s Public House even after its co-owner was arrested early December 6 for allegedly hitting a New York sheriff’s deputy with his car while fleeing arrest -- and reportedly continuing to drive “with the injured deputy clinging to the hood.”
Fox is also using the story about the bar owner’s defiance to encourage other small businesses to ignore pandemic guidelines, even if they get arrested for doing so.
This is all happening against the backdrop of the country seeing four consecutive days of more than 200,000 new daily COVID-19 cases. Experts predict that the months ahead will be “a worst-case scenario” as vaccines won’t be widely available to the U.S. general public until spring of 2021.
This continued friendly coverage of a guideline-defying bar owner even after he allegedly assaulted a police officer also underlines Fox’s stark, unrepentant hypocrisy in how it covers Black people killed by the police, protests against police misconduct, and the Black Lives Matter movement in general.
On December 7, the “news”-division show America’s Newsroom hosted an attorney for the bar owner, who claimed that the “phony” police claim is “nowhere near what happened” and that the entire incident was “a political hit job to change the narrative” against his client. Co-anchor Trace Gallagher replied that “you’re right, it is sad” that businesses are struggling, and he continued to focus on the bar’s fight against COVID-19 guidelines. America’s Newsroom later aired a press conference by the bar owners and their attorney live, stressing afterward that the owners said “they have the utmost respect for law enforcement.” A Wall Street Journal columnist decried the “tragedy” on all sides, while noting that the bar owners “are not people that go around violating the law. But they’ve been put in this terrible, terrible position.”
Fox has also used the story of Mac’s Public House to encourage other businesses to flout their local COVID-19 guidelines.
On December 6, the “news” show America’s News HQ accused Saturday Night Live of “making fun of small business owners” when actor Pete Davidson said that people protesting outside Mac’s Public House made New Yorkers “look like babies.” Co-anchor Leland Vittert asked a restauranteur, “Are you a baby or are you just trying to keep your employees with food in their mouths and a roof over their head?” Vittert spent the final part of the segment pointedly asking his guests if they were going to defy local pandemic guidelines, potentially up to getting arrested “if you have to.”
Also on December 6, the Sunday edition of Fox & Friends Weekend hosted the co-owners of Atilis Gym, a New Jersey business that was Fox News’ original anti-lockdown cause celebre in May. Co-host Pete Hegseth praised the co-owners for going to “Staten Island … [to help] other businesses who are trying to do the same thing” -- supposedly including Mac’s Public House. He also invited them to give advice to other businesses on how to “show the courage that you have,” and let them promote their efforts to help other small businesses nationwide to “defy COVID lockdowns.”
All this coverage presents a brazen contrast with Fox’s years-long campaign against Black Lives Matter and seemingly any person of color who alleges police misconduct. Fox figures pushed the malicious lie that criticizing police increases crime, a lie known as the “Ferguson effect”; blamed Sandra Bland for her unjust arrest ending in her mysterious death in police custody; denied that the New York Police Department put Eric Garner in a chokehold; called the stories of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake “a lie”; cast doubt on the obvious cause of Floyd’s death; compared Black Lives Matter to ISIS; smeared the movement’s founders as terrorists; and much more.
Fox figures have also celebrated Mac’s Public House decision to declare itself an “autonomous zone” -- even hosting a “patriot, artist, and activist” who claimed to have invented the idea -- even though Fox News attacked Seattle’s pro-BLM “autonomous zone” with smears, comparisons to the Civil War, and panicked warnings about activists spreading “anarchy” nationwide.
When Black Lives Matter chapters or activists speak out against police misconduct, Fox smears them as an anti-family “terror organization” and a “poison” that “we must defeat” if the United States is to survive. But when a Fox-approved bar owner allegedly tries to evade arrest by assaulting a police officer, he and his cause still enjoy loyal promotion from the network.