Media Matters weekly newsletter, May 26
Welcome back to Media Matters' weekly email. As a senior researcher with Media Matters, I monitor and analyze right-wing content across a wide variety of platforms, trying to understand what makes the ecosystem tick. Each Friday I'll go through all the main narratives, craziest clips, and dumbest moments from conservative media over the past week. If you want this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.
On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his presidential campaign on Twitter. The event was a disaster, full of glitches and technical failures. It wasn’t the only recent big news for Twitter. Earlier this month, ousted Fox News host Tucker Carlson announced that he plans to relaunch his show on Twitter. And just this week, the extremist right-wing outlet The Daily Wire announced that it would put its podcasts on Twitter. Taken together, Twitter under Elon Musk’s tutelage is seeking to supplant Fox News’ supremacy as a right-wing echo chamber.
Fox is currently in a vulnerable position in the right-wing media ecosystem. Its settlement with Dominion Voting Systems cost the parent company dearly and showcased its corruption. Following that, the sudden firing of Carlson, its star host, triggered denunciations from right-wing commentators and an ongoing ratings collapse. Meanwhile, Musk has been an ascendant star in conservatism while using Twitter to further the cause of right-wing extremism.
As the fight between the two factions escalates, Twitter and its allies will try to portray themselves as an insurgency within the right against the establishment Fox News. As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz explained, “The resulting clash will create a race to the bottom as the two sides compete for support through demagoguery and conspiracy theories, making the political environment even more unstable and dangerous.” As Gertz further noted, it's clear that Fox News and the Murdochs will fight back.
To be clear, advertisers on Twitter will inevitably be in the Elon Musk business. So long as they continue to support the platform with their money, they will be subsidizing all of its hateful content. Meanwhile, cable subscribers are currently subsidizing the extremism on Fox News’ airwaves. They don’t have to.
Sign up at NoFoxFee.com to get tips on how to send a polite message to your provider and say, “Don’t let Fox News raise my bill.”
Watch this: Media Matters researchers Andrew Lawrence and Kat Abughazaleh joined Crooked Media's Jon Favreau for a wide-ranging chat about the future of Fox News.
This week in stupid
- Disgraced bully Steven Crowder said it’s not realistic for a Black actor to portray a mermaid.
- Fox’s Newt Gingrich said Donald Trump’s fan base is made up of people with “third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade educations.”
- Fox’s Jesse Watters claimed Florida is “the one state” where Black Americans are thriving.
- Fox’s Kayleigh McEnany blamed “tech guys at Twitter” for Ron DeSantis’ disastrous presidential announcement.
This week in scary
- Candace Owens is now targeting surrogate parents, calling the practice “deeply demonic.”
- The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh said, “Diversity is an anti-white conspiracy.”
- Charlie Kirk encouraged his audience to bankrupt Target for selling Pride merchandise, saying, “Pain is a teacher.” A Fox News host attacked Chip and Joanna Gaines for partnering with Target. The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles similarly said, “The Pride flag symbol, we need to make that toxic.” Click here for more on right-wing media's anti-LGBTQ campaigns.
- Fox’s Pete Hegseth and Jeanine Pirro praised vigilantism.
- Fox’s Greg Gutfeld applauded a high school teacher charged with engaging in unlawful lewd behavior with a 16-year-old student.
- Dennis Prager said, “‘Negro’ had no negative connotation whatsoever.”
- Fox’s Pete Hegseth said the separation of church and state is “not in the Constitution.”
- On Rumble, Steven Crowder mocked the NAACP travel advisory, claiming, “African culture” is “lip spacers” and “neck extenders.”
In case you missed it
- Fox host Rachel Campos-Duffy said, “Some say America runs on Dunkin’. The Democrat Party runs on racial tension.”
- Fox’s Sean Hannity instructed Republicans “not to be scared” of defaulting on the national debt.
- After the NAACP issued a travel warning, Fox’s Jeanine Pirro accused the civil rights organization of “tearing down our statues.”
- BlazeTV’s Steve Deace said Mike Pence wants to “let Disney groom the kids.”
- Fox’s Sean Hannity accused the FBI of putting “cinderblocks on the scale of a presidential election” in 2016.
- Clay Travis claimed there is “no real evidence” that the Allen, Texas, mall shooter was a white supremacist (there is, in fact, extremely clear vidence).
- Donald Trump should be an extremely vulnerable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, Fox News has made it almost impossible to criticize the twice-impeached, once-indicted former president.
- The DeSantis vs. Trump political feud is at a boiling point in right-wing media as platforms and hosts take opposing sides.
- After a suspect crashed a U-haul truck into security barriers at the White House and reportedly waved a Nazi flag while exiting the van, Twitter Blue subscribers immediately claimed it was an FBI “psyop.”
- Right-wing media outlets and personalities repeatedly leveled attacks against a modest Pentagon initiative created to address high levels of white supremacy in the military. The Countering Extremism Working Group has been disbanded.
- Fox Corp.-owned OutKick is a conservative sports news network that recently saw a dramatic increase in subscriptions and viewers on its YouTube channel after it aggregated prank videos. It regularly pushes racist and transphobic commentary.
- Fox News has been pushing white nationalist-infused rhetoric in response to the end of Title 42 which is wholly detached from reality.
- As Republicans manufactured a debt limit crisis, major newspapers failed to provide important context in their reporting.
- Mainstream journalism outlets covering Rumble are failing to report on the extremist, false, and bigoted content that dominates the platform.
- Joe Rogan’s podcast fueled a bizarre TikTok conspiracy theory falsely attributing climate change impacts to cyclical changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.
- Right-wing media had a collective meltdown after it was revealed that Fox News’ employee handbook contained language deemed inclusive of trans employees.
- Dating Talk is a viral, panel-style show where the host and guests promote misogynistic gender politics to an audience of millions.
- After Murdoch-owned properties spread a completely false story about homeless veterans being kicked out of an upstate New York hotel to make space for undocumented migrants, Fox News hosts read a short scripted retraction that they pretended was merely an update.