Correction (5/19/22): This post originally stated that Fox News aired 55 individual segments promoting the false claim that the Biden administration was prioritizing migrant children over Americans with respect to infant formula. In fact, the false claim was made on the network 55 times, with some segments featuring multiple instances.
For the past week, Fox News has used photos and video of infant food supplies at border facilities to portray the Biden administration as caring more about migrants than American children. The network has aired at least 55 false or misleading claims suggesting federal officials are prioritizing migrant children and families in the midst of a baby formula shortage in the United States.
The network's manufacturing of a scandal in this instance takes on a new meaning in the shadow of yet another mass shooting motivated by the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which the network has spent years promoting. Lately, instead of just pushing the racist lie that Americans are going to be “replaced” by newly arrived immigrants, Fox has been claiming we’re “feeding illegal babies ahead of American babies,” as host Jesse Watters put it.
The infant formula stocked at the border is legally mandated, and Customs and Border Protection has said amid the outrage that it “takes seriously its legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of individuals in our custody” and that it “complies with all applicable regulations for the purchase of products used in CBP facilities.”
According to a transcript search of the SnapStream video database, from 4 a.m. May 12 through the end of May 18, Fox aired at least 55 claims in which it pushed the false narrative that immigrant children are being privileged for access to baby formula over American children.
Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz highlighted some of the more egregious examples of this narrative:
And on May 16, Sean Hannity said: “Bottom line is there is a baby formula being sent to the border while parents in America are desperate, struggling to find enough for their own — for their children on store shelves.”
Fox News has made it clear that no matter how much violence white supremacism inspires, the channel will continue to promote it.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video databases for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “baby,” “infant,” “mom,” or “mother” within close proximity to any of the terms “migrant,” “alien,” “border,” “illegal,” or “undocumented” or any variation of the term “immigrant” from 4 a.m. May 12, 2022, through May 18, 2022.
We identified segments, which we defined as instances when the national baby formula shortage was the stated topic of discussion or when two speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the national baby formula shortage with one another.
Within those segments, we counted any claims that suggested that migrant, immigrant, or undocumented children were being privileged or placed ahead of natural-born, “American” children for access to baby formula.
We defined a claim as an uninterrupted block of speech from a single speaker. For monologues, we defined a claim as the block of speech between played clips or read quotes. We did not include the speech within any played clip or read quote unless a speaker in the segment positively affirmed the clip or quote directly before or after the clip was played or the quote was read.