Fox News has spent over 3 hours this week freaking out about Disney’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation and the company’s effort to be gender inclusive. The legislation, which passed on March 28, not only bans discussion of sexuality and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade but could also prevent discussion of gender identity at any level in school, and it has been heavily criticized by groups like the Trevor Project as it could silence teachers and have a chilling effect on LGBTQ youth.
Fox's obsession started with attacks on Disney for its recent denouncement of the legislation, with the network fomenting outrage against the company for opposing the new law. After noted critical race theory alarmist Chris Rufo released a leaked video of a staff meeting at Disney, the network went all in to hype the smear campaign.
From first thing Monday through 9 a.m. EDT on Friday, Fox has been laser-focused on the story, mentioning “Disney” over 350 times this week, and dedicating over 3 hours of coverage, and at least 53 segments, to it. Fox & Friends committed the most time to the topic, with 14 segments and 42 minutes dedicated to creating a backlash against Disney. This wall-to-wall coverage has overshadowed potentially damaging news about right-wing figures, such as the revelation that former President Donald Trump asked Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to release more dirt on presidential son Hunter Biden, which received just 2 minutes of coverage on the network.
Coverage about Disney featured Fox figures making outlandish claims. Host Tucker Carlson said that Disney’s support of gender inclusivity amounted to the company acting like “a sex offender” and supporting the “chemical castration” of children. Host Laura Ingraham claimed that Disney is “grooming” children. Such claims weren’t isolated to just the opinion side; during the March 30 edition of Fox’s “news”-side show Faulkner Focus, Fox contributor Sean Duffy claimed Disney wants to “sexualize our children” and make films “that will indoctrinate” kids.
Fox’s coverage of the legislation and backlash against Disney is just part of a greater right-wing push to spread anti-LGBTQ panic. This kind of rhetoric is harmful to LGBTQ youth and further demonstrates the network’s commitment to demonizing marginalized groups to stoke culture wars.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Disney,” “Rufo,” “don’t say gay,” “Florida,” or “gay agenda” from midnight March 28, 2022, through 9 a.m. EDT April 1, 2022, for coverage of right-wing attacks on the Disney corporation. We searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for the term “Trump” within close proximity to any of the terms “Biden,” “Putin,” “Solomon,” “Baturina,” “Ukraine,” “Real America’s Voice,” or “interview” from midnight March 28, 2022, through 9 a.m. EDT April 1, 2022, for coverage of Trump’s comment about ties between Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina and Hunter Biden.
We timed segments, which we defined as instances when Trump’s comment or the Disney corporation was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of either story. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed either story with one another.
We also timed passing mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker mentioned either story without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about either story scheduled to air later in the broadcast. We rounded all times to the nearest minute.
We also searched transcripts in the Kinetiq video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any instance of the term “Disney” from midnight March 28, 2022, through 9 a.m. EDT April 1, 2022. We counted each instance of the term as a single mention.