Fox News supports the right to protest, unless, it seems, the protesters are students of color shining a spotlight on incidents of racial injustice.
Protests against racial discrimination on college campuses across the country are garnering national media attention with students criticizing administration responses to incidents at University of Missouri, Yale, U.C.L.A, University of Oklahoma and other institutions.
Fox News responded to the student protests with disdain and attempts to belittle the protesters' arguments. Primetime host Megyn Kelly called the protesters in Missouri “angry black students,” while Bill O'Reilly likened the protests to fascism. When Juan Williams attempted to explain why students of color may feel marginalized on campuses, Fox host Eric Bolling diminished the students' complaints, suggesting they were solely upset “because of two incidences.” On the November 12 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts repeatedly called the country-wide university protests anarchy. In one instance, Fox displayed an on-screen graphic characterizing the protests as “anarchy in the making.” Meanwhile, the student protesters at the University of Missouri have actually been threatened with violence, and two suspects have been arrested for threatening black students.
But Fox's coverage of protests has looked drastically different when those protesting have aligned with the network's conservative agenda.
Recall when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy faced off with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over his refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle's use of public lands in April 2014; he threatened violence and incited protests -- which included armed militia supporters -- to resist BLM efforts to collect on his debt. Fox News rocketed Bundy to conservative folk-hero status, lauding the rancher with the network's support even as numerous media reports described Bundy supporters pointing guns at federal law enforcement. BLM was even forced to suspend its operations when protesters -- some of them armed -- marched toward where BLM had impounded Bundy's cattle. Fox personalities praised Bundy supporters as “good, hardworking Americans,” “law-abiding American citizens,” and “patriotic Americans,” and one Fox host, Clayton Morris, sanitized the interactions between Bundy supporters and law enforcement, claiming, “Suddenly people are there protesting peacefully, arguing against government intervention here ... and all of these police and folks roll in with guns and sniper rifles pointing at them.”
And when hundreds of protesters gathered in Murrieta, California in July 2014 to oppose the planned housing of immigrant mothers and children at the federal Border Patrol station in the city, Fox championed the protests. These protests contained such vitriol that immigration officials were forced to reroute the buses transporting immigrants from overcrowded, unsanitary facilities in Texas for fear of the immigrants' and federal officers' safety. Despite the virulent nature of the protests, Kimberly Guilfoyle, co-host of The Five, applauded the protesters for being “able to get out there, [and] voice [their] opinion,” saying “I love it, because you can do that in America.” Her fellow co-host Eric Bolling commented that “finally, citizens are standing up and saying enough is enough.” Host Greta Van Susteren emphasized that the protesters were just “exercising their First Amendment right,” and Bill O'Reilly told Murrieta Mayor Alan Long “you should be very proud of your town,” for keeping the protests safe.
Just this year Fox News celebrated when Duke University decided to cancel planned weekly broadcasts of Muslim calls to prayer from the campus chapel in response to “numerous verified instances of credible threats” against members of the university community. Host Steve Doocy applauded the outcome, attributing it to Fox viewers, saying “A lot of you made your opinion known, a lot of people contacted Duke, and they have done a 180.” Martha MacCallum quipped, “Community outcry prompted this change ... They got some word from donors as well, from what I hear. That helped them expedite that decision.”
Only on Fox News are armed militia members protesting federal law “patriotic,” while university students and faculty speaking out against racism are labeled as anarchists.