Fox News logo with FBI downward trendline
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox News barely covered a FBI report showing crime rates declined significantly in 2023

Fox News largely ignored the March release of the FBI’s quarterly report showing that crime in the U.S. dropped significantly last year, undermining the right-wing narrative that crime is increasingly rampant across the country. In the two weeks after the FBI report was released Fox News gave just 2 minutes of coverage to the decline in crime rates.

  • The latest FBI report revealed a continuation of post-pandemic trends in which “crime in the U.S. declined significantly in 2023,” MSNBC reported, including “likely the largest one-year decline in murder that has ever been recorded,” according to crime analyst Jeff Asher, with a 13% drop nationwide. The FBI report also found that overall violent crime declined by 6% and property crime dropped 4% in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the same time period in 2022. 

    Fox News aired less than 2 minutes of coverage of the FBI’s report of lower crime rates in the two weeks following its March 18 release. Between March 18 and April 1, there were only 7 mentions of the FBI crime report or the drop in crime rates on Fox News, the longest of which included allegations from the guest, America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh, claiming that the crime data from the FBI was manipulated, calling it “bullshit” and saying, “They’re cooking the books.” Of the 6 other brief mentions, one featured Fox host Greg Gutfeld mocking “new data from the FBI [that] claims U.S. crime rate is dropping” by saying, “Let’s look at this graph while I stab you.”

  • Video file

    Citation From the March 19, 2024, edition of Fox News' Gutfeld!

  • Overall, Fox’s reluctance to cover the latest FBI crime report appears to be a repeat of the network’s 2022 election year strategy to raise fears while ignoring actual crime levels. Instead of giving airtime to inconvenient truths that show crime rates have declined, Fox is pushing false narratives about a manufactured "migrant crime" crisis and insisting that people feeling like crime is up is more important than the data showing it is down. This sort of misleading coverage may explain why — despite the demonstrable decreases shown by the latest FBI report — Gallup polling finds that 77% of Americans incorrectly believe crime rates are actually worsening.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “murder,” “homicide,” “robbery,” “theft,” or “larceny” or any variation of either of the terms “crime” or “violent” within close proximity of any of the terms “FBI,” “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” dip," “drop,” “decrease,” “downward,” “decline,” “fell,” “plummet,” “trend,” or “rate” or any variation of either of the terms “reduce” or “low” from March 18, 2024, when the FBI released its Quarterly Uniform Crime Report data for the fourth quarter of 2023, through April 1, 2024. 

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when the downward national trend in violent crime highlighted in the FBI Quarterly Uniform Crime Report data release was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the downward trend. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the downward trend with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned the downward trend 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 downward trend scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.