Right-leaning Facebook pages — including pages from Fox News and Fox Business — are amplifying and praising the cruel political ploys of Govs. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Greg Abbott (R-TX), who reportedly misled and relocated migrants and asylum-seekers to Democratic-led cities without informing local authorities.
Media Matters compiled and analyzed over 7,200 Facebook posts about DeSantis’ and Abbott’s immigration stunts from news and politics pages from September 14 through September 19 and found that 14 pages affiliated with Fox News and Fox Business dominated discussions of the stunts. Those pages earned nearly 23% of interactions on related posts from right-leaning pages and nearly 16% of interactions for all news and politics pages.
Fox’s dominant proportion of interactions is notable in this case. Media Matters routinely monitors the top 10 posts from leading political and news-related Facebook pages, and we have completed dozens of studies analyzing the interactions earned by posts from these pages. Other right-wing pages that specialize in generating social media discussions — such as The Daily Wire or TheBlaze — usually dominate the right-wing ecosystem on Facebook, but the discussion around these made-for-TV political stunts have been unusually dominated by Fox News' network of personalities and affiliates.
Other key findings include:
- News and politics pages posted about the stunts on Facebook over 7,200 times from September 14 through 19, earning nearly 12 million interactions.
- Right-leaning Facebook pages accounted for nearly 60% of related posts from news and politics pages — posting over 4,100 times — and they accounted for over 70% of interactions, earning over 8.2 million interactions on their posts.
- Facebook pages affiliated with Fox News posted about the immigration stunts over 200 times, earning over 1.8 million interactions.
- Right-leaning pages accounted for 7 of the 10 posts with the most interactions, with Fox pages accounting for 4 of the top 10.
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott transported dozens of migrants legally seeking asylum in the United States to Democratic-led cities, including Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., without any notice to local authorities. DeSantis took credit for two charter flights, which carried 48 migrants to Massachusetts on September 14; Abbott bused another 50 migrants to D.C., where they were dropped off outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence.
Right-wing media lauded these callous political stunts. Fox News cheered the supposed political savvy of DeSantis and Abbott in getting “a lot of people’s attention'' ahead of the upcoming midterm election and their own potential presidential bids. Fox also used each instance to push anti-immigrant rhetoric, such as falsely claiming that migrants are threats to the nation’s security and economy.
The response was consistent with Fox’s usual anti-immigration rhetoric. In a 12-week period in 2021 alone, Fox News personalities and guests fearmongered about migrants in at least 693 segments and when Abbott announced his plan to bus migrants from Texas to Democratic-led cities and states in early April, Fox obsessively covered the story, mentioning the plan in at least 346 segments. Network personalities Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy praised Abbott’s plan as necessary and effective for border security.
Right-leaning Facebook pages dominated discussion of right-wing governors’ immigration stunts, praising DeSantis and mocking liberals
From September 14 through September 19, right-leaning Facebook pages posted about DeSantis’ and Abbott’s immigration stunts over 4,100 times, earning over 8.2 million interactions for the posts. This far outpaced left-leaning and ideologically nonaligned pages. Notably, right-leaning pages accounted for nearly 60% of related posts from news and politics pages and over 70% of interactions earned.
In comparison, ideologically nonaligned pages posted about the stunts over 2,000 times — or over 28% — and earned over 1.6 million interactions — or over 14%. Left-leaning pages posted just over 1,000 times — or over 14% — and earned over 1.8 million interactions — or nearly 16%.
Right-leaning pages also accounted for the majority of the related posts with the most interactions — 7 out of the top 10. These posts praised DeSantis’ actions and mocked liberals, who they claimed were having a “meltdown.”
Facebook pages affiliated with Fox accounted for nearly a quarter of all interactions earned by right-leaning pages
Fourteen Facebook pages for Fox News, Fox Business, and their hosts and shows posted about the immigration stunts over 200 times, earning over 1.8 million interactions. Four of the posts were also among the top 10 posts overall.
Notably, the interactions earned on related posts from Fox pages accounted for nearly 23% of interactions on all related posts from right-leaning pages and nearly 16% of interactions for all news and politics pages.
The pages earned this substantial portion of interactions even as they accounted for only 5% of posts from right-leaning pages and less than 3% of posts from all news and politics pages.
Many of these posts from Fox pages amplify Fox’s on-air coverage of the immigration stunts. In fact, over 50% of the posts from Fox pages link to Fox News and Fox Business websites. Other posts included videos of Fox News segments about the stunts and links to hosts’ additional non-Fox shows and websites.
Using CrowdTangle, Media Matters compiled a list of 1,773 Facebook pages that frequently posted about U.S. politics from January 1 to August 25, 2020.
For an explanation of how we compiled pages and identified them as right-leaning, left-leaning, or ideologically nonaligned, see the methodology here.
The resulting list consisted of 771 right-leaning pages, 497 ideologically nonaligned pages, and 505 left-leaning pages.
Every day, Media Matters also uses Facebook's CrowdTangle tool and this methodology to identify and share the 10 posts with the most interactions from top political and news-related Facebook pages.
Using CrowdTangle, Media Matters compiled all posts for the pages on this list that were posted September 14 through September 19, 2022, and were related to Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, and their immigration stunts. We reviewed data for these posts, including total interactions (reactions, comments, and shares).
We defined posts as related to the stunts if they had any of the following terms in the message or in the included link, article headline, or article description: “DeSantis,” “Abbott,” “migrants,” “migrant,” “immigrant,” “immigrants,” “Martha's Vineyard,” “Marthas Vineyard,” “private plane,” “two buses,” “bus,” “busing,” “border,” “VPs home,” “VPs house,” “Naval Observatory,” “Vice Presidents house,” or “Vice Presidents home.”
We defined Fox pages as the Facebook pages for Fox networks, hosts, and shows. These pages included: Fox News, Dan Bongino, Sean Hannity, Jesse Watters, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox & Friends, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, Fox Business, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Fox News Politics, The Five, Maria Bartiromo, and Fox & Friends First.