After East Palestine train derailment, Fox News discovers the purpose of industry regulations after years of vilifying them

Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade: “I'm stunned by it – that we have thousands of derailments” so “maybe the regulation needs to be there”

Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade acknowledged on Thursday that federal regulations may be necessary to protect people and the environment, a rare admission on a network that has pushed for mass deregulation for decades. Kilmeade, who co-hosts Fox & Friends, made the comments while discussing the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment and its aftermath.

“I knew nothing about these derailment numbers,” Kilmeade said. “I'm stunned by it – that we have thousands of derailments all the time and how costly it is, and how they're not kept up and maybe the regulation needs to be there.”

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Citation From the February 23, 2023, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

Fox News has long vilified federal regulations as governmental overreach, and needless red tape that eats into corporate profits. In 2011, the network launched Regulation Nation, a series that would “expose how excessive laws are drowning American businesses.” The series was the brainchild of then-Fox News President Roger Ailes, who said at the time that bureaucrats “draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.”

That same year, Fox News also waged a full-on war against the Environmental Protection Agency, and continues to argue against environmental regulations, including in its so-called straight news programs.

More recently, Fox News personalities and their guests have railed against federal regulations for the oil industry, argued that federal regulations are a way to divide families, blamed regulations that purport to limit police violence for resulting in the police killing of Tyre Nichols, and pushed for further deregulation of the cryptocurrency market, just to name a few examples. Fox News and other cable networks also largely ignored the Trump administration’s broad deregulatory agenda to benefit massive polluters in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Television coverage of East Palestine was scant and decontextualized, including on Fox News, immediately after the derailment, with only 3% of coverage mentioning the decadeslong deregulatory push by the rail industry. The Obama administration attempted to make more effective train brakes mandatory following a series of derailments in 2014, which the industry fought against, effectively hollowing out the proposed rules. In 2018, the Trump administration completely repealed the regulations.