Fox Corp. gave their upfront presentation yesterday in midtown Manhattan. Outside the event, several protests gathered, including striking writers from the Writers Guild of America as well as anti-Fox protesters calling for advertisers to defund Fox News.
Inside the event, Fox reportedly deprived their guests of chairs as Gordon Ramsay dropped f-bombs and former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski botched an ad pitch from Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews.
Fox News personalities were also featured in the presentation, including some of the network’s most extreme personalities such as Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro, among others. As Fox attempts to clean up the wreckage of a historic defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, they are simultaneously attempting to downplay the network’s extremism by promoting digital properties like Tubi, Fox Nation, and Fox Weather while also injecting right-wing propagandists on Fox News to signal that the company does not intend to deviate from its tried and true business model of sacrificing democracy for cable news ratings.
Fox is having an identity crisis across its various platforms. Last quarter the company posted a loss as a result of their $787 million defamation settlement. They’re currently also facing: an ongoing writers’ strike, a “soft advertising market” and the never ending cord cutting trend that only continues to get worse, and fallout from the unceremonious firing of their star Tucker Carlson that has tanked Fox News’ primetime ratings. Despite all this, Lachlan Murdoch told investors last week that Carlson’s departure will not change “programming strategy at Fox News,” an indication that advertisers and cable providers should expect more of the same on the network.
And, indeed, Fox’s presentation to media buyers on Monday afternoon in New York City featured an appearance from a Fox News personality who bore significant responsibility for the lies that led to that defamation settlement.
Here’s some of just the recent commentary from Fox News personalities featured in the upfronts pitch.
The Five is Fox News’ top-rated show. It features a roundtable discussion among the most unhinged hosts at the network, including Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, and Jeanine Pirro. All three hosts, in addition to Jessica Tarlov, who is a rotating liberal host on the show, were featured via a live feed during the upfronts presentation. In addition to his role on The Five, Jesse Watters hosts the 7 PM hour solo, and Gutfeld is host of the 11 PM hour on Fox, a program that is the network’s stab at a late-night talk show.
Jeanine Pirro was a key figure in Fox’s peddling of election conspiracy theories after the 2020 election. Emails disclosed via Dominion Voting Systems' lawsuit against Fox News review that Pirro's executive producer Jerry Andrews called her “just as nuts” as Sidney Powell, then-Trump's lawyer that was behind some of the most ludicrous lies told by his campaign. At the time, Pirro had recently hosted Powell on her show, during which she and her guest pushed lies about Dominion. Pirro pushed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election even after Fox's own “Brain Room” had debunked them.
According to Variety, Greg Gutfeld’s attempt at humor regarding the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike fell flat among the crowd.
Here are some recent eyebrow-raising clips from these personalities.
- On May 15, Gutfeld said that Democrats are lying about the threat of white supremacy to “keep Blacks angry.”
- In April, Gutfeld said climate change “improves people's lives.”
- In March, Gutfeld suggested that “white leftists do worse things to Blacks than the Aryan Nations ever could.”
- Gutfeld said in January it’s time to tell the homeless, “You don’t get to live with us.”
- Gutfeld suggested that President Joe Biden is hiding “Barack Obama’s real birth certificate” and using it for blackmail against “Black males.”
- On May 15, Jesse Watters said on The Five that Black Americans should be more concerned with “absent fathers, education issues” than with white supremacist mass shooters.
- Watters said that “women are in their prime in their late teens” while mocking former CNN host Don Lemon.
- During Black History Month, Watters said the “people who financed it” deserve credit for American infrastructure built by slaves.
- Watters suggested burning squatters alive.
- Watters accused teachers of “poisoning” and “trying to destroy” children because “the teachers have daddy issues.”
- In January, Jeanine Pirro proclaimed that George Soros is “behind the destruction of law and order in America.”
- Pirro argued that Nazism and white supremacy should be allowed on social media platforms.
- In November, Pirro argued that “Holocaust deniers,” “hate speech,” and Sandy Hook truthers should be allowed on Twitter.
- Pirro said that “we are living in a fascist state” because the media won’t cover Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer
Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer were featured as “straight news” personalities during the upfronts presentation. They are co-anchors of America’s Newsroom, where they both frequently push tepid right-wing talking points, blurring the line between news and opinion. Perino is also a co-host of The Five.
- During a March edition of The Five, Perino struggled to define the word woke: “It could be a feeling, it could be a sense.”
- Perino and her co-hosts on The Five attacked unhoused people for washing their clothes.
- In September 2022, Perino said we should “involuntarily commit” the homeless.
- In June 2022, Perino said she is “concerned” Americans won’t be “allowed to celebrate” the Fourth of July soon.
- Perino suggested that the January 6 committee hearings were meant to “distract from other issues.”
- Bill Hemmer attacked Disney for opposing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, asserting that there was “leaked video now of Disney execs unveil efforts to push the company's woke agenda.”
- In July, Hemmer suggested that federal gun legislation would not have helped stop a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.
- In November 2021, Hemmer helped spread a baseless anti-vaccine rumor while on air.
- In February 2021, Hemmer allowed former President Donald Trump to push lies about the 2020 election.
- Following the 2020 election, Hemmer continuously supported Trump’s election challenges.
Reporting indicates that Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were featured in the Fox News “sizzle reel” presented to advertisers and media buyers during the upfront presentation, “though primetime was decidedly not a focus of the presentation, with the 2024 election instead taking center stage.” Hannity and Ingraham have a long track record at Fox and elsewhere in right-wing media of extreme commentary.
Sean Hannity has been the poster boy for right-wing conspiracy theories and bigotry since Fox News Channel launched in 1996. He was a major booster of Trump’s election conspiracy theories and a singularly important driver of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. Here are some of his most extreme recent comments.
- Hannity called for the arrest of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
- On his radio show, he said Trump should have pardoned himself and his family before leaving office.
- He blamed Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse on “an obsessive company-wide focus on race, gender, sexual orientation.”
- In February, Hannity endorsed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) call for banning “people who move from blue states to red states from voting for five years.”
- He said in January that “vaccines and boosters do not work as they have told us.”
- Hannity compared vaping Juul pods to giving children the COVID-19 vaccine.
- To stop mass shootings, Hannity argued for “tax breaks” for armed military and police officers who work for free patrolling schools.
Laura Ingraham is an anti-immigrant extremist and a propagator of hate, lies, and misinformation. She’s used her platform on the network to attack school shooting survivors and murder victims. Here are recent examples of extremism on her Fox show, The Ingraham Angle:
- On May 11, Ingraham said an “untold” number of Americans “will lose their lives” because of immigration.”
- She said the Biden administration is encouraging border crossings “to fundamentally change America.”
- Ingraham told her audience that coverage of the Allen, Texas, shooting was a “bloody electoral strategy” by the Democrats.
- She recently said Democrats want to put conservatives “in a camp.”
- Ingraham defended Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after reports that he received lavish gifts from a major Republican donor.
- She compared Trump’s indictment in New York to “Stalin’s purges.”
- Ingraham claimed that Trump’s indictment was a distraction from the school shooting in Nashville.
- She called January 6 rioters “old ladies walking through the halls of Congress taking selfies.”
- Ingraham and her guest Sen. Josh Hawley attempted to connect gender-affirming care to the Nashville shooting.