Fox News has obsessed over dubious revelations published in the New York Post concerning a hard drive containing allegedly scandalous emails from and images of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter for nearly 25 and a half hours, which included 420 segments, since October 14, according to a Media Matters review.
Fox has attempted to tie the story to its extended smear campaign of Joe Biden’s handling of Ukraine during his time as vice president by connecting the elder Biden to long-debunked conspiracy theories about his son’s work at Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. The network also has re-upped long-debunked claims of anti-conservative bias from “big tech” in response to Twitter's efforts to halt initial shares of the Post story.
The New York Times criticized the Post article and cited several reasons why the story was dubious: The two sources for the story were Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon, now facing federal fraud charges; Post reporters refused to add their bylines and questioned whether the paper had done enough to verify the authenticity of the laptop’s contents; and Giuliani went to the Post because “either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out.” To date, mainstream media outlets largely haven’t found the allegations credible enough to warrant coverage.
Although Fox had also passed on the Hunter Biden story before Giuliani approached the Post, as Media Matters reported last week, the network promoted the flimsy allegations against Hunter for 6 hours and 42 minutes in segments in the first few days after the Post published its story -- three times as much coverage as given to the coronavirus pandemic over the same time period.
Since then, the network’s coverage has steadily grown: The network has gleefully covered the allegations each day since the Post published -- anywhere between two and almost four hours a day.
Top Fox shows to cover the story included not just the “opinion” side but also “straight news” programming. In total, Fox’s “opinion” shows spent 14 hours while its “straight news” shows spent 11 hours and 26 minutes on the allegations.
The top editorial-focused shows covering the story included Fox & Friends and its early morning and weekend counterparts (which aired more than 5 hours combined on the allegations), Tucker Carlson Tonight (2 hours and 12 minutes), Hannity (1 hour and 56 minutes), Outnumbered (1 hour and 9 minutes), The Five (58 minutes), and The Ingraham Angle (56 minutes).
The top news-focused shows covering the story included America’s Newsroom (2 hours and 30 minutes), The Story (1 hour and 30 minutes), Fox News @ Night (1 hour and 12 minutes), Special Report (1 hour and 11 minutes), America’s News Headquarters (1 hour and 7 minutes), Outnumbered Overtime (56 minutes), and Bill Hemmer Reports (52 minutes).
The network has also promoted Republican calls for a special counsel to investigate the Post’s allegations. This week, much of the coverage has sought to elevate baseless accusations from Republicans that tech giants Twitter and Facebook illegally assisted the Biden campaign by blocking the Post story on their platforms. Most recently, the network has been advocating claims from Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter, that allegedly connects Joe Biden to emails on the laptop, but the network’s own national correspondent, Jacqui Heinrich, has expressed doubts over any tie between the former vice president and overseas dealings with China.
Fox’s relentless focus on the Post’s story follows the same pattern of the network amplifying questionable allegations and outright falsehoods against the Republican Party’s political opponents.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Hunter,” “Biden,” “Bo,” “Beau,” or “Joe” within close proximity of any of the terms “New York Post,” “the Post,” “laptop,” “e-mail,” “email,” “Burisma,” “Pozharskyi,” “MacBook,” “computer," “Shokin,” “Archer,” “Zlochevsky,” “Mesires,” or “Costello” or any variation of the term “Ukraine” from October 14 through 22, 2020.
We timed any segment related to the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email story, which we defined as instances when the story was the stated topic of discussion or when there was “significant discussion” of it, which we defined as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed it. We timed only the relevant portions of such multitopic segments. We also timed passing mentions as well as teasers for upcoming segments about the story. We rounded all times to the nearest minute.
We split Fox programs into “straight news” and “opinion” sides. We defined “straight news” programs as those with anchors, such as Bret Baier or Shannon Bream, while we defined “opinion” programs as those with hosts, such as Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, at the helm. We used the designations from each anchor or host’s FoxNews.com author page. We also considered the format of the program; we defined those using a panel format, such as Outnumbered and The Five, as “opinion.”