Fox News has spent months demonizing homelessness in California. Now Trump wants a major crackdown.
Fox News has spent months relentlessly demonizing homelessness in cities governed by Democrats, with a particular focus on California. Now, it has been reported that President Donald Trump plans to crack down on homeless camps in California, possibly forcing homeless people into government facilities, and that he has cited “the state’s growing crisis” as justification.
Earlier this year, Fox News began increasing its coverage of homelessness in America’s cities, using a conveniently vulnerable population as a bludgeon against Democratic politicians and proposals. In particular, the network has focused on California -- a Media Matters search shows that the network has aired at least 53 segments that discussed homelessness in California since May.
On September 10, The Washington Post reported that Trump “has ordered White House officials to conduct a sweeping crackdown on homelessness in California,” with talks intensifying in recent weeks. Officials are reportedly considering “razing existing tent camps for the homeless” and moving homeless people into government-backed facilities, though “it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use.” According to the Post, White House spokesman Judd Deere said that “the President has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies ... are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks.”
Fox’s complaints about homelessness are often paired with indictments of Democratic elected officials like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as well as “socialist,” “liberal” policies that are a “template of what the Democrats want to continue.” The network has painted a dire picture of American cities, calling them “almost Third World in their decay” and describing “a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization.”
In one representative segment, Fox host Jesse Watters complained about “drugged out zombies” and called for authorities to “bulldoze the 50-block radius, and you institutionalize everybody.” Watters has been doing dehumanizing segments about the homeless on Fox News for years.
It’s clear that Fox News’ sympathies do not lie with the people experiencing homelessness; hosts and guests often refer to homeless people with language like “zombies,” and the network has been far less interested in the Trump administration’s lack of serious attention to tackling America’s homelessness crisis before now. Instead, scapegoating homelessness has been a convenient way for Fox to demonize Democrats and fearmonger about socialism ahead of the 2020 election.
Fox’s laser focus on homelessness in California in recent months, followed by the Post’s reporting on the Trump administration's plan to crack down on homelessness, is particularly concerning given the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the network.