The Fox logo in front of a February 2023 calendar page torn in half
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Fox has pushed anti-Black narratives every single day of Black History Month

Rather than using Black History Month to recognize the adversity faced by Black Americans and celebrate Black culture, Fox News, its website, its sister website Fox Business, and its online streaming platform Fox Nation have instead used the month of February to peddle problematic anti-Black narratives.

Although Fox has aired a few Black history month segments — such as one on civil rights activist and  Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and one on the first Black woman to hold a pilot’s license, Bessie Coleman — more airtime was spent pushing racist rhetoric. Every day of February, Fox figures have spread anti-Black narratives, accusing President Joe Biden’s administration of anti-white racism; fearmongering about critical race theory being taught in K-12 schools as a part of a so-called “woke” liberal agenda; and undermining the existence of and harm done by systemic racism.

Fox News’ rhetoric on race has repeatedly contradicted its parent company Fox Corp.’s initiatives for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) — much like Fox News’ ongoing campaign of anti-LGBTQ hate contrasts Fox Corp.’s claim to be “committed to LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion.” From its own webpage on inclusion, Fox Corp. pledges that it is “committed to fostering a culture and environment where everyone, from everywhere, feels welcome and can thrive.” The page also lists “employee resource groups” including “BLK+,” which “celebrates the intersectionality of our Black colleagues across the diaspora at Fox, and seeks to build community within through programming and professional development while standing in solidarity with our allies.” Despite this corporate commitment, Fox News has given a platform to countless narratives that harm Black communities. 

Fox’s behavior is part of a larger trend, as other right-wing media outlets and personalities have also pushed racist narratives in February. For example, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh jokingly questioned on his February 9 podcast, “Why exactly is it a negative stereotype that a lot of Black people like chicken and waffles?” And on the February 1 edition of his own show, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA declared, “I don't think there should be a Black History Month.” 

Below is a non-exhaustive list of examples of Fox pushing at least one anti-Black narrative every day in February. 

  • February 1

    Prime-time host Tucker Carlson opened the month accusing “major news organizations,” especially NBC News and MSNBC, of “openly advocating” for the genocide of white people because the network’s Black hosts and guests spoke openly about racial injustice. Carlson directly compared the networks to the infamous Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines propaganda station that spread racial hatred during the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s — leading to upwards of 800,000 members of the Tutsi ethnic group and over 100,000 Hutus being targeted and killed — and suggested that MSNBC’s Black History Month coverage would lead to more of the same.

  • February 2

    On The Story with Martha MacCallum, guest and right-wing podcast host Dave Rubin defended Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rejection of the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course by accusing public schools of teaching “neoracism,” stating, “No one should be taught that your skin color does matter, and your skin color is the thing that should get you ahead whether it’s at a college admission … or whether it’s to get the job or the grad school situation after that. But that is exactly what they want to teach. So, DeSantis is really just saying enough is enough.”

  • February 3

    On his prime-time show, Fox host Sean Hannity mocked members of the progressive group of lawmakers known as “the Squad” for speaking out against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Black Muslim woman, being stripped of her committee assignments, quipping, “You would think that the world was ending.” The show then played ominous music while airing clips of Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (MO), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez (NY) rebuking the GOP’s “Islamophobic and racist” targeting of Omar and “white supremacy.” Fox Business host Kennedy Montgomery also remarked that the congresswomen “cannot be taken seriously with these tantrums and meltdowns.”

  • February 4

    On One Nation with Brian Kilmeade, The Heartland Institute’s Peter Wood claimed The 1619 Project book is “a shameless compilation of misstatements, misrepresentations of the American past. … This book is mainly aimed at provoking, more or less, despair on the part of African Americans and guilt on the part of white Americans.” Host Brian Kilmeade called The 1619 Project Hulu series a “disgraced and dishonest” project, “an affront to history itself,” and “historical fiction masquerading as fact,” warning that “no part of our history seems safe; no hero is left untarnished.”

  • February 5

    On his show Life, Liberty & Levin, Mark Levin accused “the establishment” of “anti-white racism.” His guest, the Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson, criticized the Pentagon for “hunting out supposed white rage and white supremacy in the ranks,” claiming diversity initiatives by Disney, American Airlines, Stanford University are part of a “top-down woke revolution.” Levin additionally suggested Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan was “racist” for highlighting that Black students hold a disproportionate amount of educational debt, and Hanson lamented the plight of white men. 

  • February 6

    Carlson claimed that the Biden administration is “punishing” and “discriminating against certain classes of people” — specifically white men — by appointing Black women as federal judges. Minutes later, Tucker’s guest and Manhattan Institute fellow Christopher Rufo criticized a Florida State University scholarship for nonwhite students while an on-screen chyron read “FSU scholarship: Whites need not apply.”

  • February 7

    During The Five, co-host Jesse Watters suggested that the people “who financed” and “designed” it deserve credit for American infrastructure built by slaves. Watters also joked that he should receive reparations for being “1% Black.”

  • February 8

    On America Reports, “news-side” anchor John Roberts said the Disney reboot of The Proud Family “would appear to fully embrace the concepts of the CRT and the 1619 Project.” Guest and New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz asserted that there’s “a rot inside this company with leftists in positions of power who’ve decided they simply must insert political messaging to children” in contrast to what she called the company founder’s “pro-America vision.”

  • February 9

    On her prime-time show, host Laura Ingraham raised doubts about the University of South Florida’s DEI program and the fact that it shared anti-racist resources with students. Her guest Rufo asserted that these DEI initiatives — and what he deemed as “CRT” — “resemble cult programming” that aim to “make them [kids] left-wing activists.” Ingraham scoffed while mentioning the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Rufo stated that DEI initiatives’ “point is to divide the campus” with “racially segregated counseling sessions.” 

  • February 10

    On Outnumbered, the co-hosts criticized Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for addressing how the creation of the interstate highways system disproportionately displaced and even cleaved in half Black neighborhoods. Montgomerey rebuked Buttigieg as “a cracker who only wants to racially divide the country further.” Julie Banderas also accused Democrats of “politicizing … and using once again another woke agenda to basically punish those who don't believe the same rhetoric that they are spewing.” 

  • February 11

    On The Big Saturday Show, guest and Fox contributor Tomi Lahren undermined the harm of systemic racism by arguing that if “you want equality, you want people to have opportunity, stop telling them they are victims and everything is about their race.”

  • February 12

    Fox News Digital published a piece aimed at stirring outrage over a Washington Post op-ed by professor Kate Aguilar that explored the historical obstacles preventing Black men from becoming quarterbacks, including the practice of “racial stacking,” which funneled Black athletes into positions deemed less “cerebral” on the field. Fox author Lindsay Kornick chose to exclude this context from her piece, which is titled “African-American studies professor decries 'legacies of slavery' that prevented Black QBs at the Super Bowl” with the subhed pointedly stating, “Both teams for Super Bowl LVII will feature Black quarterbacks.” Kornick noted at the end that the NFL has “announced numerous initiatives to combat what they called ‘systemic racism.’” 

  • February 13

    Reacting to a USA Today column by Race and Inequality Editor Mike Freeman celebrating the prominence of Black people at Super Bowl LVII, frequent Fox guest and sports commentator Clay Travis complained, “This is what happens with woke sports, right. They try to destroy everything by identity politics and slicing and dicing.” Travis went on to say Freeman writing that the Super Bowl felt as if it occurred in the fictional country of Wakanda “tells us more about USA Today, which is a broken media institution, than it does anybody else.” Anchor Bill Hemmer added, “If you ever played team sports, you know there is no color on a teammate.”

  • February 14

    On Fox Nation’s Tucker Carlson Today, right-wing actor and comedian Roseanne Barr claimed that so-called critical race theory is “nothing but Nazism” and “antisemitism,” alleging, “It’s based on Jews being white and all the trouble caused by white people. They mean Jews, and I know they do.” Barr continued, insisting that “white racism” is actually a stand-in for “Jewish control” pushed by an ambiguous “they” in order to divide the population.

  • February 15

    Lambasting a peer-reviewed study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal that found reduced genetic diversity in wildlife across minority neighborhoods in the U.S., The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld referred to environmental racism — which has also demonstrably affected COVID-19 mortality — as a “mass delusion” while co-host Dana Perino flippantly mischaracterized the findings as accusing animals of racism. The on-screen chyron stated: “Animals Are … Racist?!”

  • February 16

    Ingraham claimed the horrific derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous material in East Palestine, Ohio, “is what happens when you prioritize diversity and equity over competence and experience,” saying Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg should stop “preening before the cameras about transportation equity and start doing” his job. (Attacking Buttigieg’s comments on race and diversity has been a running obsession for Fox.)

  • February 17

    Carlson claimed that the Biden administration’s federal diversity initiatives aim to “place the federal government, all of it, in opposition to” straight white men. Carlson claimed, “Biden institutes a government-wide system of racial discrimination that dwarfs Jim Crow and nobody seems to notice,” trivializing the decadeslong oppression faced by Black Americans.

  • February 18

     In a segment on Fox & Friends Weekend celebrating DeSantis for his attack on AP African American Studies classes in Florida, Fox host Rachel Campos-Duffy referred to school choice as “the civil rights issue of our time” and later claimed, “That AP class … was being used as a form of indoctrination.”

  • February 19

    On Life, Liberty & Levin, Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez claimed that the founders of Black Lives Matter were trained in “Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism” and described diversity as a “rigidly enforced uniformity of views.” 

  • February 20

    Gutfeld used his show’s opening monologue to accuse Biden of fanning the flames of racial division with “gasoline and a blow torch” by talking about lynching while hosting a screening of a film about the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Guest Drew Pinsky suggested Biden was “putting a flame under” racial hate and urged schools to teach about Reconstruction, which he called “the real violence that led to this moment.”

  • February 21

    Fox contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones declared, “The word ‘racism’ is almost extinct now because we can’t discern true racism from wokeness. Wokeness is racism in and of itself.”

  • February 22

    Carlson and frequent guest Jason Rantz mocked a California bill that would regulate the use of police dogs, which were historically used to hunt slaves and violently suppress Black protesters during the civil rights movement and continue to disproportionately injure minorities today. Carlson complained that California has proclaimed “everything — everything —  is racist.” Rantz proceeded to deride the “irony” that “police defunders” were now attacking “non-lethal tools” because “they trigger Black people,” ignoring numerous instances of police dogs seriously wounding or killing minority victims.

  • February 23

    Carlson accused Biden of using equity practices to enact a mandatory “new Jim Crow” that targets white people. Carlson equated the Biden administration’s initiatives to promote diversity to “open racial discrimination, mandatory at all levels of the federal government.”

  • February 24

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney interviewed Memphis attorney Jordan Carpenter, who decried the formation of a committee in Shelby County, Tennessee, to study generational racial divides and possible reparations for slavery. Carpenter said, “We play a really dangerous game when we start using the law to advantage one group over another purely based on race” and suggested the committee would distribute money based on “race preferences.”

  • February 25

    Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel used a story on a California high school replacing honors classes in response to concerns over low enrollment from nonwhite students to claim teachers’ unions are “all in” on teaching about structural racism. She also warned that more teachers will spread ideas like critical race theory because “this is what a lot of teachers are getting when they are going to those union meetings and it’s creeping into the culture.” Host Paul Gigot agreed, adding that “the equality of low expectations” is a “recipe for national decline.”

  • February 26

     Life, Liberty & Levin hosted DeSantis for a friendly interview, asking him to respond to people who attacked him and "purposely twisted what you’re saying” about Black history. DeSantis defended himself by claiming that Florida public schools previously taught critical race theory and neo-Marxism. DeSantis earlier suggested that universities were using taxpayer money to fund “delusion” and social activism. In response, Levin ironically stated, “What I hear you saying is free speech, academic freedom -- these are the principals you’re supporting rather than indoctrination.”  

  • February 27

    Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo sensationalized a joke Biden made at a Black History Month event, saying, “He’s being criticized now for disparaging his own race.” Reacting to the president’s comment that “I may be a white boy but I’m not stupid,” Arroyo complained, “So the supposition is white people are stupid. ... Obviously he is trying to pander to Black voters who are assembled here for Black History Month. But you don’t do that by running over a whole different race.”

  • February 28

    Watters laid the ground for his interview with DeSantis by insisting race relations in America are on the decline because “the media started lying about shootings like [George] Zimmerman and Mike Brown,” then accused teachers of spreading “racial propaganda in the classroom” to set up attacks on public education, an important facet of the book DeSantis was advertising. Watters continued his introduction by calling Al Sharpton — who had just rallied against DeSantis — one of the “race hustlers” who “made a career out of ratcheting up racial tensions.”

    Update (3/3/23): This article, first published on February 17 and originally titled “Fox has pushed anti-Black narratives every single day of Black History Month so far,” has been updated with additional examples through the entire month.