Fox News obsessed over Disney and the false claim that it sexualizes kids but ignored a Tennessee bill that could have allowed straight adults to marry minors
By opening a door to child marriages, the Tennessee bill would have in fact sexualized children
While Fox News has devoted segment after segment to covering Disney’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law passed in Florida, absurdly claiming that the entertainment giant supports “grooming” children for sex, the network hasn’t found time to inform its viewers about a legislative attempt that could actually sexualize children. The network failed to cover a Tennessee bill that originally would have created a new category of heterosexual marriage with no lower age limit.
According to an analysis by Media Matters, Fox has devoted over 5 hours of airtime to Disney’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law and the company's effort to be gender inclusive since March 28, the day Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure. Amid these hours of coverage, Fox host Laura Ingraham said, “Now this isn’t programming, this is propaganda for grooming,” Tucker Carlson accused Disney of acting “like a sex offender,” and Fox guest Sean Duffy claimed that the entertainment giant wants to “sexualize our children.” Meanwhile, Fox didn’t spend a single minute on a Tennessee bill that could have allowed adults to marry minors.
Fox News’ hosts and guests have claimed repeatedly that their focus both on Disney and on LGBTQ issues stems from a desire to protect children from exploitation. Carlson, for example, claimed without evidence that trans children have been led to their identities by adult predators. And Fox guest Stephen Miller — the mastermind of former President Donald Trump’s horrific family separation plan — alleged that doctors are being “forced” to prescribe gender-affirming care to “castrate boys and girls.”
Given this extraordinary level of stated concern for the well-being of children, you might think the network would have covered a Tennessee bill that would have created a legal mechanism for adults to marry minors. But perhaps there was another reason for the network to focus on Disney rather than House Bill 233, a measure sponsored by Tennessee Rep. Tom Leatherwood that would create a separate class of marriage that is available only to heterosexual couples and originally would have been open to people of any ages, including children.
Tennessee already allows marriages in which one party is 17 years old. The bill has since been amended to add age limits, but Fox has not mentioned it once, even during the period where it would have legalized child marriages (when it was widely covered elsewhere).
If Fox is so concerned about protecting children from abuse that it would devote hours of coverage to the false claim that an entertainment company is sexualizing children, why would it ignore this bill? Maybe the outrage isn’t about protecting children at all.
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 March 28, 2022, through April 6, 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 “matrimony,” “marry,” or any variation of “marriage,” within close proximity of “Tennessee,” “Leatherwood,” “TN,” or “Tenn” from March 28, 2022 through April 6, 2022 for coverage of the Tennessee bill that offered a marriage option without age limits.
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