After President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act into law this week, some Fox News personalities appeared on prime time to attack the legislation that designated lynching as a federal hate crime. Anti-lynching legislation previously failed to pass even though there were more than 200 attempts to do so over the past century.
Black civil rights leaders across the country have celebrated the bill’s passage a “historic moment,” with Janai Nelson, president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement that it represents the government’s “first real steps” to finally “recognize lynching for what it is and has always been: a violent form of anti-Black terrorism that the government must combat with all of the power at its disposal.” Despite this historic context, multiple people on the network falsely characterized the legislation as unnecessary and downplayed its significance.
On the March 31 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the eponymous host feigned disbelief during his commentary, presenting the new law as the stupidest and most unnecessary thing he’d ever heard of.
On Fox News' The Ingraham Angle, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza compared the law to passing legislation against “witch burning” or “cannibalism” and said, “But this is hardly a national or social problem. So there is a certain kind of dementia, I think, here.” D’Souza tweeted out similar remarks prior to his appearance on the show.
Fox News’ Jesse Watters suggested this legislation is an overcorrection by the White House due to a false perception of America today created by the media. Watters claimed, “Instead of tackling inflation or the border, today our president signed a bill to classify lynching as a hate crime. How is this our top priority right now?”
The idea that lynchings are a long gone relic of history is false. According to the Washington Post, there have been at least eight suspected lynchings of Black men and teenagers in Mississippi since the year 2000. Carlson, D’Souza, and Watters all have a history of pushing anti-Black racism on Fox News. Their comments about anti-lynching legislation, a much needed measure addressing the history of racial terror in the United States, are just a continuation of this trend.