Fox abandoned Graham’s nationwide abortion ban because it wants to help the GOP win the midterms
Fox News all but ignored the far-reaching abortion ban Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proposed on Tuesday, as political observers noted the bill could damage the Republican Party’s effort to take back Congress. Banning abortion is a longtime conservative priority — but the network is more concerned with delivering power to the GOP.
Fox host Sean Hannity actually appears to have broken news of the bill on his show Monday night. “I have it on good authority that Republicans in the Senate will bring up a national abortion law sometime this week that would have a mandate of time of 15 weeks,” he said at the top of his broadcast. Minutes later, reporters began tweeting that Graham, a frequent Hannity guest, would be introducing such a bill the following day.
Graham’s legislation would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, while leaving in place all stricter state laws. If it became law, doctors who violate it could face up to five years in prison. “If we take back the House and the Senate, I can assure you we'll have a vote on our bill,” Graham promised at a Tuesday press conference debuting it.
Fox all but ignored the news of Graham’s nationwide abortion ban on Tuesday. The network devoted roughly 5 minutes to the proposed legislation, compared to 14 minutes on CNN and 47 minutes on MSNBC. Fox notably did not interview Graham himself to talk up his new bill. He is generally a frequent presence on the network, making dozens of appearances this year alone. While Republican members of Congress made the rounds on the network as usual, the only politician to face a question from a Fox anchor about the legislation was Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
The network employs a vast array of right-wing commentators, many of whom host their own shows. But none of them praised Graham’s bill — even Hannity, who on Tuesday emphasized that “states will decide if there are any restrictions at all” without mentioning the legislation he had teased the night before. Instead, it was Democrats who kept bringing up the issue and discussing it in detail during their appearances on the network.
What’s going on here? Bret Baier, the network’s chief political anchor, provided a hint during a midday segment about the potential impact inflation might have on the midterms.
“I'm sure Democrats would like to talk about Sen. Graham's abortion bill nationwide after 15 weeks, and that's what Chuck Schumer did today,” he said. “Notice that Mitch McConnell talked about inflation and how it affects families at home.”
Republicans like McConnell, as Baier suggests, don’t want to talk about Graham’s bill because they know that its extremism threatens their effort to take back Congress. And Fox doesn’t want to talk about it for the same reason — the network is a GOP propaganda outlet that prioritizes helping the party win elections.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for any of the terms “Lindsey,” “Graham,” or “senator” within close proximity of any of the terms “abortion,” “15 week,” or “15-week” for September 13, 2022.
We timed segments, which we defined as instances when Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposed legislation that would ban abortions after 15 weeks was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the legislation. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the legislation with one another.
We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned the legislation without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the legislation scheduled to air later in the broadcast. We rounded all times to the nearest minute.