Over the course of Fox News’ hours of coverage of the backlash against Target’s Pride Month collection, network hosts and guests repeatedly parroted the false claim that the retailer was selling “tuck-friendly” or “tuck-’em” swimsuits for children, even after the story was clearly debunked.
The claim comes amid the ongoing pressure campaign against Target and other national brands that have observed Pride Month, partnered with LGBTQ+ influencers or organizations, or promoted diversity and inclusion measures internally. Between May 23 and the morning of May 30, Fox spent over 2 hours discussing Target’s Pride collection, with several hosts expressing outrage that the retailer was supposedly exposing children to inclusive messaging and products. Target ultimately announced on May 24 that it would be removing some of its Pride Month displays and products.
Even though The Associated Press debunked the claim on May 25, determining that the swimsuit in question was marketed only to adults, several right-wing figures on Fox and other right-wing outlets continued to assert that Target was selling the gender-affirming swimsuit for children.
Fox’s decision to air an easily debunked claim is part of a broader issue of poor journalistic standards at the media outlet. In May, Fox spent over an hour pushing an unfounded story about asylum-seekers displacing homeless veterans from a New York hotel before issuing a nonretraction. While Fox executives have defended the network’s journalistic standards since its $787.5 million defamation settlement to Dominion Voting Systems, Fox has continued to push baseless right-wing hoaxes rather than factual news reporting.
While the network has aired at least two segments acknowledging that the swimsuit was intended for adults, Fox personalities and guests have continued to buoy the claim that Target was selling “tuck-friendly” swimsuits to children. Some of those who admit that the suits are for adults still claim that the visibility of the tags is “sexualizing” children, conveniently ignoring the other adult-focused products that Target also sells, like condoms and lingerie.
Some Fox Hosts have pushed the claim without evidence
- Subbing for Jesse Watters on Primetime, host Rachel Campos-Duffy called on other Target brands to speak out against the store, stating on May 25, “No one doubts that Chip and Joanna are good people, kind, moral, and aligned with American values, but if I had a line at a company, and my name was on it, and that brand partnered with a trans satanist that makes tuck-’em bikinis for kids, I would feel compelled to speak up. Now, maybe they're raising questions internally — of course, that's possible — but why aren't they doing so publicly?”
- Fox News host Jesse Watters complained on May 23, “Do women want men shopping in the women's clothing department? Well, someone should tell Target that because they are now selling swimsuits with tuck-’ems in the women's section of the store and they even have a line just for kids.” He then played a TikTok falsely claiming that the tuck-friendly swimsuit was from the children’s section.
- Outnumbered co-host Emily Compagno claimed on May 24 that “a lot of customers' complaints had to do not with the fact that there were pride celebratory garments at Target, but that they included tuck-friendly swimsuits in the children's section. Now, Target has come out and responded and said those are adults-only. They are firmly within the adults-only section online, but there was clearly consumer confusion or at least people's impressions that there were swimsuits here for children that advertise very clearly that they were tuck-friendly and parents didn't want to see that when they went into the Target, nor did they want their children to be exposed to that."
Fox hosts and guests ignoring or dismissing AP’s debunk
- Watters joked on May 30, “When you ride Splash Mountain, don't forget to rock your tuck-’em swimsuit. Target has you covered,” before claiming, “At Target, if you disagree with selling tuck-’ems to toddlers, then they’ll fire you faster than a Keystone Pipeline worker.”
- Appearing on Primetime on May 26, failed Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon expressed her outrage about Target, saying the store is “certainly not trying to hide this. They come out with these tucking bathing suits. So they are saying, look, we are going to let you tuck your junk. We’re not even going to camouflage the fact that we are trying to tuck your junk. We want to even tuck your child's junk. This is ridiculous. They’re doubling down.”
- Appearing on The Story, OutKick founder Clay Travis claimed on May 30 that companies targeted by right-wing boycotts are “running scared,” before stating that, “At some point your standards of inclusiveness also become exclusive. And that is where I believe we are, where people feel that they aren't allowed to have an opinion, let's say, hey maybe we don't need to have children's bathing suits that allow people to tuck their genitalia and pretend that boys are girls. Maybe that goes beyond the point of inclusion. And I think that certainly is becoming an issue as it pertains to women who were having to compete against biological men in their sports. And it's not wrong to push back against this.”
- Professional wrestler and Fox News personality Tyrus complained on May 26, “My problem is, is I have to deal with, I had to explain to my 9-year old over the bathing suit situation. And I wasn't ready to have that discussion with my 9-year-old. So when you put political things — and whether it's Pride or all of a sudden you want to have a Black Lives Matter section — and you want to put your political stuff down in front for everyone to discuss … That’s my issue with it. … It has nothing to do with me being phobic. It was me being with a dad who doesn't want to discuss that with my 9-year-old right now.”
- Fox meteorologist Amy Freeze claimed on Outnumbered on May 26, “To put these things in front of families, where you’re sexualizing children at a young age —it’s already hard enough to be a parent in modern society. And so to start to conflict and confront things that you don't even need to think about until children are much older just makes parenting so much more difficult.” Host Dagen McDowell clarified that the suits are for adults, but added that “if that bathing suit at one time was in the store and a kid asked, ‘what is that?’ you got to explain what it is and, well, it’s a ladies bathing suit with extra room in the bottom and that's a long conversation that you’re going to have to have. And I’m making a joke about it, but if Target is going to stand with this, then they need to stand with it and tell everybody who has a problem with it, ‘Suck it up, buttercup.’"
- In response to actress Rachelle Lefevre’s Instagram video in which she explains the impact of the Target controversy on her 7-year-old nonbinary child, Fox Radio host Jimmy Failla said on May 30, “If you’re thinking of the children, which is how this started, the conservatives didn’t like the idea of a tuck-friendly swimsuit for the children because we should not be castrating them at such an early age.”