Fox News decries “two-tiered” criminal justice system in which Trump’s white-collar allies are the supposed victims

According to Fox, the real victims aren’t Black or poor people who suffer police brutality and disproportionate sentencing, but white-collar financial criminals associated with Trump

After President Donald Trump's longtime confidant Roger Stone was recently sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to federal investigators and threatening a witness, and the Justice Department decided not to charge former acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Trump’s allies at Fox News have been decrying a supposed “two-tiered system” of justice. In their view, the criminal justice system differentiates between who is punished for crimes and who is not; but in their twisted view, the real victims aren’t Black or poor people who suffer police brutality and disproportionate sentencing, but white-collar financial criminals associated with Donald Trump. 

In its attempt to defend claims that the “deep state” is after Trump’s allies, Fox News is using real issues within the criminal system to push the narrative that Trump associates are the victims of an abusive justice system. Fox’s decision to support Trump’s convicted allies by seemingly taking up the mantle of criminal justice reform is grotesquely hypocritical when compared to its coverage of police brutality against unarmed citizens, many of whom are Black, and network figures have largely supported leniency for cops accused of police brutality while placing the blame on the victims. Fox has also vilified former NFL player Colin Kaepernick for years, attacking him for kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against the abuses of the U.S. criminal justice system. 

There are very real and valid issues with the U.S. criminal justice system, which include overpolicing of low income and minority neighborhoods, harsh or inconsistent mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent criminals, racial discrimination through “stop-and-frisk” policies, and overaggressive arrest tactics that have led to the death of countless unarmed Black citizens. Fox usually discusses these issues to defend the police -- and the one time it has taken up the cause of the victims, it is in defense of Trump’s white-collar criminal friends. 

Fox’s complaints often include demands that Trump’s opponents be arrested and charged in the same way that Trump’s allies are. The laundry list of Trump associates who have been convicted or sentenced in addition to Stone include former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Fox's double standard when discussing Trump's allies exposes a self-serving agenda; here is a non-comprehensive look at Fox's coverage of Trump's allies facing accountability compared to victims of police brutality.

Fox News on Trump allies who have committed white-collar crimes 

  • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs reacted to Stone’s arrest in January 2019 by calling FBI agents “the leading examples of corruption right now in this country.” Dobbs complained that the FBI arrested Stone instead of “being gangbusters and going after the bad guys.” 

  • On Justice with Judge Jeanine, Fox contributor Sebastian Gorka said that his “parents lived under a communist dictatorship, a police state,” and Stone’s arrest is “the same thing.” Gorka concluded, “In a white-collar crime, this is not how you do it.” 

  • Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett called Stone’s arrest “an abusive, ridiculous, and embarrassing excessive use of force by the FBI.” He claimed, “This is a white-collar suspect of process crimes. He is not MS-13. He’s not a mass murderer.” 

  • Fox host Sean Hannity called Stone’s arrest “the biggest abuse-of-power scandal in modern American history.” He complained that Stone “is not being charged with any violent crime” but was “being treated like Pablo Escobar.” 

  • Ahead of Stone’s sentencing, America’s Newsroom co-anchor Ed Henry said that according to one of Trump’s friends, Trump feels that “there are two-tiers of justice,” and “some of the president’s friends and allies have gone to jail for what he considers to be relatively minor offenses.” 

  • After Stone’s initial sentencing recommendation calling for 7-9 years was announced, Hannity responded by saying, “It seems like the only people that got held accountable are supporters of the president.” Jarrett said that “it appears to me there is a two-tiered system of justice, selective prosecution, unequal justice under the law.” 

  • Fox & Friends guest co-host Pete Hegseth said that Stone’s sentencing recommendation shows that there is a “two-track system of justice,” and “if you are a Republican or Trump supporter, we are coming after you.” 

  • Hannity claimed that the decision not to charge McCabe is “the single biggest abuse of power scandal … in modern American history.” He added that “a two-tiered justice system” is “operated by a group of, again, the 1% lawless, vindictive, evil government officials.” 

  • Following Stone’s sentencing recommendation, Dobbs paraphrased Fox contributor John Solomon on Twitter, saying that there are “‘two systems of justice,’ one for Republicans and one for radical Dems and Deep State officials.” 

  • Fox News’ The Next Revolution guest Jenna Ellis said Stone’s sentencing recommendation proves that “there’s a two-tiered layer of justice here that depends on whether or not you’re a Trump ally or whether you’re his opposition.” 

  • When Fox host Tucker Carlson asked his guest Michael Caputo to comment on Stone’s sentencing recommendation and McCabe, Caputo responded that “obviously, it’s a two-tiered justice system.” 

Fox News on police brutality and criminal justice reform

  • On The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said in July 2017 that the issue of police brutality is “exaggerated.” When his Black co-host Juan Williams responded that “if you're Black or brown in America, police brutality is not exaggerated,” Gutfeld responded, “I saw that response coming.” 

  • Responding to Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of its new ad campaign in 2018, Dobbs said that Nike is “endorsing the Kaepernick message, which is that police brutality exists in wanton measure across this country.” Dobbs claimed that “it emphatically does not” and said, “It is a disgrace to me that anyone would give that message credence.” 

  • Fox & Friends guest Joe Cardinale defended the officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold and was fired from his job in 2019, saying that he didn’t “see it as an outright chokehold,” and that citizens should “comply. Just don’t fight, don’t resist.” 

  • Fox & Friends guest John Kazanjian said that protesting NFL players “feel like police brutality is out there, whatever. … That is not the issue.” He conceded, “There’s been a couple incidents, we got a couple of bad apples, but we police our own.” 

  • In 2015, then-Fox host Megyn Kelly responded to the death of Sandra Bland in police custody by saying that “even if you know the cop is in the wrong, comply and complain later.” Kelly’s guest, then-Sheriff David Clarke, said that if Sandra Bland “had been my daughter, I’d have been embarrassed.” 

  • Responding to a report on a 14-year-old girl who was violently manhandled by police, Kelly claimed, “The girl was no saint either.” 

  • In 2015, former Fox host Eric Bolling said that “questioning cops and their tactics is emboldening bad guys,” blaming advocates of criminal justice reform for the death of police officers.  

  • During a 2016 rant attacking a Philadelphia mayor urging restraint against Islamophobia after a Muslim man shot a cop, Jeanine Pirro told the mayor to “stop mouthing off when you don’t know the facts.” 

  • On a 2014 edition of the now-defunct The O’Reilly Factor, Rudy Giuliani dismissed the idea that Eric Garner was a victim of excessive force, saying that Garner “created this situation by not complying with the orders.”