Fox avidly promoted rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations in 2018

Fox is struggling to assign blame for Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failures to something other than Trump-era deregulation

Fox News is attempting to deflect blame for the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank in recent days away from the rollback of financial regulations during former President Donald Trump’s administration, which the network had championed. Instead, the supposed culprits identified by Fox as being responsible for the collapse of two over-leveraged banks include President Joe Biden, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and the amorphous cultural threat of so-called “wokeness,” which network personalities have routinely attacked over the past week rather than discussing substantive policy to maintain the financial system and hold banks accountable.

During remarks on Monday, Biden cast partial blame for the two bank collapses on previous legislation enacted during the Trump administration rolling back key regulations in the Dodd-Frank law, which was passed in 2010 to prevent another major financial crisis such as the one in 2008. While a series of irresponsible investment decisions at both SVB and Signature were the immediate cause of the bank runs that toppled both institutions, the relatively deregulated atmosphere since the Trump administration, and the change to this specific rule, may have played a part.

“Was SVB running a stress [test] to see how liquid we would be in a period of stress? We do not know,” wrote Forbes senior contributor Mayra Rodriguez Valladares, putting blame for this on “all those politicians and bank lobbyists who fought hard to lower risk management requirements for banks under $250 billion assets.”

Others have also noted that SVB’s CEO lobbied for the government to raise the threshold for banks to face tighter levels of oversight from $50 billion to $250 billion in assets — a crucial change Trump granted that ultimately exempted SVB from additional regulations applied to the largest banks. It is not entirely clear whether tighter oversight would by itself have prevented SVB’s collapse, but at the very least, it could have provided more regulatory eyes on the bank.

In response to the two banks collapsing, Fox News and other right-wing media personalities have blamed Biden’s economic policies, as well as diversity and “woke ideology.” Fox News host Sean Hannity also attempted to turn blame back at the Dodd-Frank law’s eponymous co-sponsor, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), misleadingly reading a portion from a column that Frank wrote for CNBC in 2017 in favor of changing the $50 billion limit, and declaring that Frank had “lobbied in support of the exact regulatory rollback as a board member at Signature Bank” after he had left Congress. (Hannity left out that Frank expressly wrote in the article: “Raising the asset floor for automatic Financial Stability Oversight Council inclusion to $250 billion is a major mistake,” and in a later piece declared he would have voted against the final bill for setting the number too high if he was still in Congress.)

Fox News’ coverage of the two banks collapsing has ignored a crucial detail: The network itself avidly promoted the rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations in 2018, when it was a major priority for the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress.

In 2018, Fox hosts and correspondents, along with guests on Fox shows, praised the rollback of banking regulations:

  • On Fox News’ Special Report, Heritage Action for America CEO Michael Needham touted the administration’s accomplishments: “You look at the tax cut, which was historic, the regulatory rollback. Today, the Senate is moving forward with the rollback of Dodd-Frank, getting at that bill which attacks America's equity markets.” [Fox News, Special Report, 3/6/18]
  • Fox Business host Charles Payne said the partial repeal of Dodd-Frank “is welcome news to a whole lot of people,” and asked GOP Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to “explain to regular folks how this has had a negative, detrimental impact to our economy.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/7/18]
  • On Fox News’ The Daily Briefing, then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is now a Fox board member, expressed his confidence that Republicans would have a strong record of accomplishment to run in that year’s midterms: “Even with the Senate as slow as they are, we’re going to be repealing and replacing Dodd-Frank. So, we’re actually getting a great deal done for the country.” [Fox News, The Daily Briefing, 4/11/18]
  • On Fox News’ Life, Liberty & Levin, Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk denounced government regulations, including Dodd-Frank as a specific example: “Regulation is a tool for the incumbent company or business owner to use against the small little guy that does not have the same sort of resources to compete in the marketplace. And you saw that of the financial crisis as well as Dodd-Frank, the big banks got bigger. They had no penalty to pay, and the small local community banks got completely run over.” [Fox News, Life, Liberty & Levin, 4/15/18]
  • Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo agreed with then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that the “impact of the rollback and regulations” of Dodd-Frank, among other items, would give Republicans “a great story to tell” in the 2018 midterm elections. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 5/6/18]
  • Fox host Laura Ingraham touted Republican accomplishments, including that they “got part of the Dodd-Frank [Act] repealed, that’s happening,” declaring this action and other policies were “good stuff.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/22/18]
  • While covering the bill signing, Fox anchor Jon Scott declared there would be “a lot of rejoicing in Smallville as a result.” Scott explained that the Dodd-Frank law “puts severe restrictions on banks of all sizes, and the smaller community banks, the local banks complained that it was really, really affecting their ability to do business because they were awash in paperwork as a result. So, the president is going to sign legislation to release some of those banks from that kind of onerous obligation.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/24/18]
  • Fox White House correspondent Kevin Corke declared: “This is good stuff, especially if you’re on main street or, frankly, if you operate a very small bank.” Fox anchor Sandra Smith further added: “A lot of these were put in place because of the financial crisis. So Democrats certainly don’t like it, but a lot of these banks say they don’t have room to grow and main street's really been anticipating this. We’ll see.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/24/18]