Fox News has buried bombshell reporting surrounding former football star and current Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, after The Daily Beast reported Monday night that Walker had paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, despite his current hardline anti-abortion stance. The potentially devastating story was downplayed by the right-wing network’s prime time and daytime reporting after the news first broke.
Walker initially appeared Monday night on Fox News for an interview with Sean Hannity, a longtime Trump adviser and perhaps Walker’s earliest and most prominent booster at the network. But after Walker’s performance in that interview, during which he denied having paid for an abortion but failed to refute the claim that he had sent a $700 check and a “get well” card to the unnamed woman, Fox’s coverage dwindled to almost nothing — even as the rest of the political world has been reeling from the story and its potential impact on the Senate race.
According to a Media Matters review, from 7 p.m. ET last night when the story first broke through 5 p.m. ET today, Fox News devoted just 6 segments to the story for a grand total of just over 11 minutes of coverage.
A right-wing political operation disguised as a news network, Fox News has heavily promoted Walker’s candidacy from its earliest stages despite his lack of qualifications and well-known personal history that included multiple reports of domestic violence. The network is now presumably more interested in protecting its investment in Walker’s candidacy than informing viewers about one of the biggest political stories of the election cycle thus far.
Fox’s near-silence on the story also contrasts strongly with the effective news coverage from its cable news rivals. During the 11 a.m. hour today, MSNBC Reports ran a segment featuring network contributor Greg Bluestein, a political reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to provide meaningful local expertise.
“To say this is a bombshell is an underestimate,” Bluestein said. “Republicans who brushed off earlier reports from the AJC, from MSNBC and other outlets of Walker's history of violence, his erratic behavior, his lies, his exaggerations on the campaign trail — they’re now very, very nervous about his midterm chances.”
And kicking off the noon hour, CNN’s Inside Politics ran a segment lasting over 10 minutes and focusing especially on videos posted Tuesday morning by one of Walker’s children, Christian Walker, calling out his father’s hypocrisy for campaigning on conservative values after he allegedly abused and abandoned his family while fathering other children, and now appears to have mislead the public about his hardline anti-abortion stance.
The segment featured a clip in which Christian Walker said that he and other family members had told his father not to run for office, before Herschel Walker then falsely promised he would be honest and hold himself accountable on the campaign trail.
“Everything’s been a lie, everything’s been downplayed, everything’s been cutting corners, the whole thing,” said Christian Walker. “And whose expense is that at? Me. My mom.”
CNN anchor John King bluntly commented, “I don’t know how you deal with that.”
Fox News viewers were finally shown Christian Walker’s video statements against his father at 2:57 p.m. ET, during a two-minute news segment that included a brief clip of Christian Walker excoriating his father and declaring, “Don’t lie about your life at the expense of me, my mom, and all of the people that you’ve affected throughout your life.”
Fox News chief Washington correspondent Mike Emanuel then followed up Christian Walker’s commentary by uncritically reading a statement from Senate Republican campaign head Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who claimed that Democrats “lie and cheat and smear their opponents.” (Christian Walker is not a Democratic activist and has made a name for himself as a vocally right-wing social media personality.)
Another point worth noting: Only about the first half of Herschel Walker’s eight-minute softball interview with Hannity the night the story broke dealt with the story. The rest of the segment shifted to the host and his guest criticizing a separate New York Times article about Herschel Walker’s personal history in his hometown. Even when adding those four minutes Monday night to the scant airtime from Fox on Tuesday, all of the network’s coverage over the past day has added up to roughly the same as the single 10-and-a-half minute segment on CNN’s Inside Politics.