A Fox News wall graphic of "Dylan Mulvaney's Corporate Deals" featuring logos from OKCupid, sodastream, Netrogena, Nike, Bud Light, Haus Laboratories, Crest, and more

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox News has covered the absurd Bud Light controversy far more than the Texas abortion pill ruling

Fox’s obsession with Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney has helped bury discussion of mifepristone access

  • Fox News has joined the rest of right-wing media in a full-fledged freakout over trans TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney making a promotional video for Bud Light. This nearly two-week obsession largely overlaps with potential new federal restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone, a story which Fox News has seemingly been eager to sideline in favor of more Bud Light panic.

    From April 7 to April 13, Fox covered the ridiculous Bud Light story for 1 hour and 42 minutes, compared to 43 minutes for the far more consequential ruling about mifepristone. And that timeframe excludes several of Fox's heaviest days covering the Bud Light story, which has been a fixture on the network since April 3. 

    Approximately 82% of Fox’s Bud Light coverage came from the opinion division, while 65% of mifepristone coverage was from the network’s “news” side. This suggests that Fox’s biggest stars were eager to bury the politically unpopular abortion pill story and instead engage viewers with anti-trans outrage — which has dragged on for nearly two weeks as mifepristone access remains a major story. 

    Fox News and the rest of right-wing media have stoked many anti-LGBTQ panics over the years, and the fanatical obsession with Mulvaney is part of a broader campaign to eliminate transgender people from public life altogether. That campaign also includes attacks on and bans against gender-affirming care, drag performances, and educational policies and library books inclusive of LGBTQ students. 

    On April 7, a federal judge in Texas paused the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, more than 20 years after the fact. According to The Washington Post, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that the pill will remain available for now, but only within the first seven weeks of pregnancy — as opposed to the first 10 weeks approved by the FDA — and it cannot be sent by mail. These restrictions are slated to go into effect the evening of April 14 unless put on hold by the Supreme Court.

    Despite the obvious newsworthiness of the rulings, which could set up another major victory for the anti-choice movement, right-wing media would rather have its audience yelling about transgender people and so-called woke corporations than making too much noise about the deeply unpopular criminalization of abortion, which is already losing winnable races for Republicans. 

    Instead of acknowledging that, Fox News has now spent almost two weeks pushing bigoted content attacking Dylan Mulvaney and Bud Light. Voices on the network have denounced Bud Light’s embrace of “womanface” as proof that “white men are not acceptable unless you wear a dress and lip liner,” and that corporations which are “ideologically captured by this woke virus” will continue to “denigrate all of society.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for the term “abortion” within close proximity of any of the terms “medication,” “pill,” “chemical,” “drug,” “mifepristone,” “misoprostol,” “Kacsmaryk,” “Rice,” “Texas,” “Washington,” “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine,” “AHM,” “Alliance Defending Freedom,” “ADF,” “Food and Drug Administration,” “FDA,” “lawsuit,” “suit,” or “sue” or any variation of the term “prescribe” from April 7, 2023, when two federal judges issued conflicting opinions on the legality of mifepristone, through April 13, 2023.

    We also searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Bud,” “Mulvaney,” “Anheuser Busch,” or “Budweiser” during the same time period from April 7, 2023, through April 13, 2023. 

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when either of the decisions from Texas or Washington state or the Bud Light controversy was the stated topic of discussion, or when we found significant discussion of either of the decisions or the controversy. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed either of the decisions or the controversy with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a speaker mentioned either of the decisions or the controversy without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about either of the decisions or the controversy scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.