Laura Ingraham burning images

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox News prime-time shows spent over 3 hours displaying violent imagery in August

The hosts of Fox News’ prime-time shows -- Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle -- spent August bombarding their viewers with imagery of violence and fires, often with images that were days or months old, as they discussed the ongoing protests against police brutality across the U.S.

  • Top Lines:

    • Fox News’ prime-time shows displayed 3 hours and 15 minutes of violent imagery during the month of August. 
    • Fox displayed images or videos of burning objects or fires 81 times. 
    • At least 50 times, Fox displayed images or videos that were over five days old. 
    • On more than 20 occasions, the images or videos shown in August were from May or June.

    Tucker Carlson fire

  • In total, Fox’s three prime-time shows displayed 3 hours and 15 minutes of violent imagery -- including of looting, crime scenes, acts of violence, fires, and the aftermath of violence or destruction -- in the month of August. Of the 252 instances of violent imagery, 81 instances included images of burning objects  

    Laura Ingraham burning mattress

  • In August, protests continued across the country in support of racial justice and against police violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and others. In some cases, clashes between police and protesters have turned violent, resulting in looting and property destruction. Fox has seized on these protests, oftentimes attempting to use them to further the idea that President Donald Trump is the “law and order” candidate. 

    Prime-time shows repeatedly cherry-picked images and videos of violence to create a false sense of a large-scale crisis across the United States, particularly in “Democrat-controlled cities.” Oftentimes, Fox relied on old footage to support its violence narrative, airing clips older than five days at least 50 times in August. On more than 20 occasions, the images or videos shown in August were from May or June. Fox displayed images and footage of violence -- protesters clashing with police, crime scenes, shootings, sexual assaults, or fires -- during nearly every show throughout its prime-time broadcasts in August. The images were shown during hosts’ opening monologues, in their predesigned graphics, and while they conducted interviews with guests. Tucker Carlson Tonight showed the most violent imagery, with an hour and 42 minutes shown in August.

  • Video file

    Citation From the August 27, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle

  • This repeated fearmongering about violence happened while Fox News hosts like Carlson defended violence from the 17-year-old Trump supporter who allegedly shot three protesters, killing two, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in late August. 

  • Methodology:

  • Media Matters scanned all original episodes of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle during the month of August for video packages containing violent imagery.

    We counted as “violent imagery" images of people sexually assaulting or shooting others; people looting stores, destroying property, or stealing items; police physically attacking, threatening, or arresting persons; the aftermath of violent altercations, such as boarded-up, wrecked, or destroyed buildings, crime scenes, or crime tape; and buildings, cars, or other objects on fire or persons throwing Molotov cocktails or other incendiary devices.

    We counted an uninterrupted series of violent images as a “video package." Each video package was reviewed for whether the package included any burning or fire imagery and timed and tallied.

    We coded the dates of video packages based on on-screen identification of the footage aired. We assumed vague dates, such as “month of May," to be the first of the month. If no dates were provided, we excluded those packages from the video package analysis.