Fox News insiders say the network has a culture of impunity for racist commentary from its biggest stars, according to a damning Friday report from The Daily Beast which cited conversations with more than a dozen staffers. Fox’s executives have “created a white supremacist cell inside the top cable network in America, the one that directly influences the president,” according to a network employee quoted in the piece.
Since its inception, Fox has served as a home for bigotry, hate, and fearmongering, particularly against Black people and immigrants. But such content crescendoed following President Donald Trump’s election, as Fox hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were given prime-time shows which they used to peddle white nationalist talking points to huge audiences.
The network’s leadership -- notably Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox’s parent company and son of its founder, Rupert Murdoch -- has continued to defend those hosts from criticism, even as major companies pulled their ads from those shows for fear of the potential damage to their brands.
But some at the network now share the assessment of its critics, according to the Beast, which reported that “behind the scenes there is a growing despair among employees about the network’s role in demonizing and spreading fear about Black Americans in particular” and “the network’s Black employees, including on-air talent, have begun to openly confront management over Fox’s anti-Black rhetoric,” particularly from Ingraham and Carlson.
- Black staffers “expressed anger and distress about rampant racism at Fox, both on- and off-air” during a June 9 conference call with top network executives. Fox Business host Charles Payne, who is Black, “lamented the network’s tone when covering Black cultural stories” on the call and had previously criticized “racist remarks” from Ingraham.
- A Fox staffer disputed the network’s attempt to defray criticism after Carlson attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, saying that the host’s scripts were written to provide plausible deniability but “what the viewers hear is the white supremacist crap. And that crap goes straight to the White House.”
- A complaint prompted an HR investigation into whether Ingraham deployed a racist dog-whistle during an anti-Black Lives Matter segment, which ultimately concluded that she had not.
Current and former Fox employees have repeatedly castigated the network during the Trump era, describing it as a “destructive propaganda machine” that allows its top on-air talent to serve up “unhinged” pro-Trump conspiracy theories and act as an “extension of the Trump White House.” But nothing has changed.
The latest complaints from Black Fox staffers will likely also fall on deaf ears. Fox’s core business model relies on attracting viewers with bigotry and propaganda. Network executives will point to its “news” side to push back on criticism, and occasionally punish a low-level employee who attracts too much negative attention, in an effort to keep advertisers from abandoning Fox altogether. But it’s the Carlsons and Ingrahams who matter to Fox’s brass, not the Paynes.
In fact, the Beast reported that Lachlan “personally approved” Carlson’s on-air statement Monday after his head writer resigned over the revelation of his history of bigoted message board postings. Carlson “barely sounded apologetic,” according to the Beast, “knowing he had the full backing of the Murdoch heir.” Indeed, the Murdochs reportedly view Carlson as the future of the network, “a hedge” against Trump losing in the fall.
Black Fox staffers are right to be disturbed by the network’s commentary on race. But it’s not a coincidence that Fox is pushing white nationalism. It’s exactly what the Murdochs want it to do.