Fox News has given excessive coverage to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to bus migrants from Texas to New York City and Washington, D.C., mentioning the plan in at least 346 segments since the stunt started in April.
On April 6, Abbott announced his plan to deal with the Biden administration’s supposed “border crisis”: putting migrants on buses and transporting them to Washington, D.C. The plan, which has since been expanded to include New York City and Chicago, has been described as “fear mongering to a problem that doesn't exist,” while Murad Awawdeh from the New York Immigration Coalition has called out the governor's plan for busing people “under misleading information to places that they do not want to go” and “using people in this moment, in such a horrific way.”
From the start, Fox News dedicated extensive coverage to Abbott’s stunt, mentioning it in at least 346 segments from April 6 through August 31, 2022. Fox & Friends has spearheaded the network’s coverage, mentioning the political ploy in at least 81 segments, with 50 of those coming in August in the wake of Abbott expanding the plan to New York. Fox’s “news” shows have also driven much of the coverage, with at least 202 segments mentioning the busing plan, including 38 on Fox News Live, 37 on Your World with Neil Cavuto, 27 on The Faulkner Focus, and 24 on America’s Newsroom.
Throughout Fox’s breathless coverage, the network has treated Abbott’s plan as a breaking news story worthy of wall-to-wall coverage, featuring correspondents reporting live on the scene of migrants getting off of buses, image bugs alerting viewers when migrants are arriving at New York City bus stations, and hosts providing live commentary over video of migrants arriving. Additionally, the network hosted Abbott himself at least 8 times to discuss his stunt.
Fox hosts and guests have also repeatedly acknowledged Abbott’s plan for what it is: a political ploy. Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends praised the governor for “brilliantly” sending migrants to the “capital of politics and the capital of media,” stressing that “now people are talking about it.” Will Cain on The Faulkner Focus agreed with critics of the plan, saying, “It is a political ploy … to send a message and give a taste of what the southern border is experiencing.”
Fox has frequently framed immigrants receiving help as taking resources away from more deserving American citizens, such as complaining that those arriving in New York are treated as “more important than people who are paying taxpayers.” Fox contributor Katie Pavlich also complained on Fox & Friends that taxpayers were paying for $400 hotel rooms and health care for migrants. And much like with its previous wall-to-wall coverage of migrant caravans, Fox guests and hosts have also used the story to push the idea that the U.S. is under an “invasion.”
Fox’s coverage, while confused, ultimately fits into the network’s midterms playbook laid out by prime-time host Tucker Carlson, who recently instructed Republican midterm candidates to run against Democrats on the issues of crime, immigration, and the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory. Fox host Brian Kilmeade exemplified this approach, pushing rhetoric about a legal “showdown” in “sanctuary cities” alongside great replacement theory talking points while talking about Abbott’s busing stunt in August. Much like its coverage of the migrant caravans, Fox is exploiting an overblown immigration story to push its anti-immigrant talking points ahead of midterms.
Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC (shows airing from 6 a.m. ET through midnight ET) for segments on Fox News that analysts determined to be about the Abbott busing plan from April 6, 2022, through August 31, 2022.
We also searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all programming from 6 a.m. ET through midnight ET on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Abbott,” “Texas,” or “Governor” within close proximity of any of the terms “bus,” “migrant,” or “asylum” for all weekend days from April 9, 2022, through August 31, 2022.
We included segments on any topic that mentioned the Abbott busing plan, which we defined as instances when any speaker mentioned the plan without another speaker engaging with the comment. We did not include teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the plan scheduled to air later in the broadcast.
We split Fox programs into “news” and “opinion” sides. We defined “news” programs as those with anchors, such as Bret Baier or Shannon Bream, while we defined “opinion” programs as those with hosts, such as Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, at the helm. We used the designations from each anchor or host’s author page on FoxNews.com. We also considered the format of the program; we defined those using a panel format, such as Outnumbered and The Five, as opinion programs.