Fox News has covered a New Jersey school board that changed the specific holiday names in its academic calendar to just “days off” more than twice as much as it covered new bombshell revelations that former President Donald Trump's Department of Justice subpoenaed the records of at least two congressional Democrats.
Fox News dedicated one hour and 18 minutes of coverage to the New Jersey school board faux scandal. In comparison, the network gave just 33 minutes of coverage to the story that the Trump administration’s Department of Justice “seized data from the accounts of at least two members of the House Intelligence Committee” and people close to them, including their aides, former aides, and family members.
Earlier in the month, The New York Times had reported that the Trump administration’s Department of Justice seized the phone records of some of their reporters. Then on June 13, there were further revelations that Trump White House counsel Don McGahn’s records were also obtained.
Fox’s minimal coverage of congressional Democrats’ records being seized included MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz noting that “there has been relatively little on Fox” on the subject compared to the coverage of network’s competitors, CNN and MSNBC.
Instead, Fox has stuck to what it knows best: driving a culture war narrative in an attempt to boost ratings and stoke anger among viewers against Democrats and liberals. Its most recent target is a school district in New Jersey that decided to refer to all holidays as “days off” on its academic calendar, “following a heated discussion over whether or not to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day”:
- During the June 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, a guest said that referring to holidays as “days off'' is the “same thing” as the Taliban blowing up Buddhist statues in 2001.
- On the June 14 episode of The Five, co-host Dagen McDowell asserted that the school district’s policy change reflects “the desired outcome for much of the left … to create a communist-like sameness among everything.”
- Martha MacCallum, who is billed as a “straight-news” anchor, suggested that changing the school’s calendar is another example of the country going down the path of Communist China.
This kind of fearmongering is nothing new for Fox News, especially when it comes to narratives regarding discussion of racism in schools. Fox has focused heavily on critical race theory recently, mentioning it nearly 1,300 times in the past three and a half months alone.
The current faux outrage is just another example demonstrating that Fox prefers to focus on obscure happenings and local oddities to fuel its culture wars, rather than discussing the exposed scandals of Trump administration figures.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “New Jersey," “NJ,” “Randolph,” or “Tatem” within close proximity to any of the terms “school board,” “Superintendent,” “Fano,” “holiday,” “calendar,” “cancel culture,” or “resign” from June 10 through June 15, 2021, for coverage of the New Jersey school district policy change.
We searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “DOJ,” ”Department of Justice," “Justice Department," “Trump,” “Sessions,” or “Barr” within close proximity to any of the terms “Schiff,” “Swalwell,” “McGahn,” “phone,” “records,” “Apple,” “Intelligence Committee," “data,” “Democrats,” or “subpoenas” from June 10 through June 15, 2021, for coverage of the Trump Department of Justice revelations.
We included segments when either story was the stated topic of discussion or when we found “significant discussion” of either topic. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed either topic with one another. We also included passing mentions of either topic, which we defined as instances when a single speaker discussed either topic without another speaker engaging with the comment. We finally included teasers for segments about either topic, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment on either topic coming up later in the broadcast. We timed all relevant segments, mentions, teasers, or related speech in multitopic segments to the nearest minute.