Fox News reacts to controversy over Jason Aldean’s song with anti-Black dog whistles attacking hip-hop music

The network even trotted out unhinged bigot Ted Nugent to defend Aldean

chyron: Left silent about violent rap lyrics, videos; still of Kayleigh McEnany

After Jason Aldean’s single Try That in a Small Town was criticized for racist undertones and pro-lynching imagery in its lyrics and video, Fox News passionately defended the country singer with anti-Black dog whistles attacking hip-hop music, continuing its pattern of smearing the genre. 

The right-wing propaganda network dismissed the criticism, portraying the song as merely an “anti-crime” celebration of small towns, despite the obvious promotion of extrajudicial vigilantism in the lyrics, and even recruiting unhinged bigot Ted Nugent to defend him. Fox then resorted to unrelated attacks of hip-hop music as “pro-crime.”

  • The Five co-host Jeanine Pirro complained, “Let me tell you about a song that no one has protested, that we certainly are not talking about at this table, called F tha Police by N.W.A.” After reading some of the lyrics, she commented, “Now, I don't hear anyone talking about that. Why?” (The song was met with a threatening letter from the FBI and faced censorship from the only reported radio station to play it.)
Video file

Citation From the July 20, 2023, edition of Fox News' The Five 

  • On The Faulkner Focus, guest Lauren Conlin complained that the video for Snoop Dogg’s song Lavender, which features the rapper aiming and shooting a toy gun at a clown version of former President Donald Trump, was met with “silence.” Conlin’s assessment is incorrect, as then-President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Fox personalities responded to the music video with outrage. (Then-Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle even went as far as saying the Secret Service should kill Snoop Dogg over the music video.) Faulkner added, “My whole thing is that, you know, there are a lot of songs out there with lyrics that are extremely offensive. Things that rhyme with ‘trigger.’ All sorts of things.”
  • Hannity guest Kaylee McGhee White claimed the backlash to Aldean’s song was “pure hypocrisy” because she didn’t remember any “complaining about violence” in response to Snoop Dogg’s Lavender or Nas’ Cop Shot the Kid.
  • Fox News @ Night host Trace Gallagher whined, “In today's society, if you sing about respecting police, the flag, and each other, it's a dog whistle for some nefarious intent” after mentioning some “rap song lyrics talking about killing cops, raping pregnant women, assassinating presidents.”
  • Outnumbered co-host Kayleigh McEnany defended Aldean and lamented that “songs about vilifying cops, well they’re OK.” Later, Fox contributor Sean Duffy added, “There is music all over the place where record labels and radio stations are making money about music about killing Black people.” He concluded: “You’re going to go after a song that holds up and says, you know, small towns are great, but I won't say anything about these other violent songs.” A chyron reading “Left silent about violent rap lyrics, videos” aired during the segment. 
  • Outnumbered co-host Harris Faulkner said if Aldean’s song was going to be canceled, “offensive” and “really nasty” music like rap should be as well: “Let's look at everything, not just country music. Let’s look at rap — let’s look at everything.” Co-host Kayleigh McEnany agreed: “Yeah, let’s look at rap music, exactly.”
  • Watters defended Aldean for supposedly portraying “the truth about what happened in the summer of 2020: left-wing anti-police violence” and said the song’s true message is “anti-crime.” (This alleged “truth” about the 2020 protests strangely includes footage from protests outside of the U.S. and stock footage catalogues.) Watters then complained, “Pro-crime music is everywhere” before showing several clips of various hip-hop music videos, including Snoop Dogg’s Lavender. He summed up his thoughts: “The media confessed they’re pro-riot — well, depending on who’s doing the rioting, if you know what I mean.” 
Video file

Citation From the July 19, 2023, edition of Fox News' Jesse Watters Primetime

  • Host Jesse Watters lamented, “A pro-crime hip-hop song? Not canceled. But an anti-crime country song, canceled.” Co-host Jeanine Pirro echoed his sentiments: “The hip-hop rap artists get to say whatever they want, but you get a conservative there who literally has documentation of what is happening in America … and he gets, you know, canceled or the song gets pulled.”
  • A “straight news” report juxtaposed criticism of Aldean’s song with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s tweet in which he castigates hip-hop and the Body Count song Cop Killer, which protests police brutality.

It’s unsurprising that Fox shifted to attacking hip-hop music given the network’s history of vilifying the genre. Here are some of the many instances of Fox News attacking hip-hop music as violent, vulgar, or harmful to society:

  • In a segment about former President Barack Obama hosting the president of Gabon Ali Bongo, then-host Eric Bolling said that Obama had a history of hosting “hoodlum[s]” in “the hizzouse,” referring to the rapper Common. 
  • Host Sean Hannity conflated selling confederate flags with selling rap music.
  • Former host Geraldo Rivera claimed, “Hip-Hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years.”
  • Right-wing commentator Candace Owens said Cardi B and Megan thee Stallion’s performance of WAP at the Grammy’s signified “corrosion” and the “end of an empire.”
  • Watters spoke with a priest in a ridiculous interview about baseless claims of demonic involvement at a Travis Scott concert.
  • Senior political analyst Juan Williams voiced his concerns about drill rap: “Everyone needs to understand the damage it's doing to American society and to race relations because who would want to be anywhere near people who are engaged in that kind of violent, antisocial behavior?” Outnumbered co-host Julie Banderas jumped in, expressing her disgust over the use of the n-word in rap: “I don't think it's OK for Black people to call each other that. Not just in music, just in general. I just find it to be such an incredibly offensive word and I'm not even Black.” Banderas then demanded Williams explain why Black artists used the n-word in their music. In his response, Williams accused rappers of selling out to a white audience and giving “permission to not only use that awful word, but again, to, you know, kind of caricature people as violent, thuggish, you know, primitive in their behavior.”
  • In a segment castigating the explicit content of rap lyrics, Fox ran the chyron, “50 years after March on Washington, some see rap music as a problem.”
  • Guest and racist commentator Heather Mac Donald said, “The oppositional culture of the ghetto and hip-hop” made Black Americans stop “striving for bourgeois normalcy.”
  • Guest Vince Everett Ellison accused Democrats of releasing “this hip-hop culture” on big cities. He continued: “Now, the n-word, the b-word, the w-word, is being sung by these artists and they’re elevated. They go to the White House and the Super Bowl now. So how can these young men and young women not believe that they are not that?”
  • Then-host Bill O'Reilly blamed “pernicious entertainment” like rap music for marginalization of religion in America.
  • Guest Jason Whitlock criticized MSNBC’s Joy Reid for defending rapper Lil Nas X, whose music, according to Whitlock, “promotes sexual promiscuity, promotes satanic values.”
  • Fox Nation ran the following headline about Common: “Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper at White House?” In addition to the article, Fox personalities, including O'Reilly, Hannity, then-contributor Sarah Palin, smeared the rapper as supporting and inciting cop killing.
  • Fox host Brian Kilmeade said Beyoncé had become “more vile than ever” and with “X-rated lyrics” in her latest album. Contributor Raymond Arroyo questioned why Beyoncé would sing those lyrics “as a renowned woman who young people look to.”
  • While defending conservative commentator Curt Schilling, Hannity railed against Beyoncé as a role model.
  • Host Laura Ingraham claimed the Obamas couldn’t attack Trump because they were fans of Beyoncé and Common.
  • Fox freaked out over then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton appearing with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
  • In a segment about the left’s supposed war on classic children’s novels, frequent Fox guest Victor Davis Hanson ranted that people should instead censure rap music: “Why don't they take deep pause and say, it’s much more destructive in America today to read and hear the lyrics of rap artists. They’re replete with misogynist language. Kendrick Lamar has things about hating the police. Jay-Z has a lot of negative things about Jews. They use the n-word promiscuously. Why don't they just take a deep pause and go after those people and say, ‘We’re going to censor and change all your lyrics?’”
  • Carlson blamed Cardi B for the death of American culture.
  • Then-host Tucker Carlson launched an unhinged attack on Cardi B. 

Vilifying hip-hop music as dangerous and detrimental to society while defending a conservative song that champions vigilantism is a clear anti-Black dog whistle: It isn’t the violence or the law-breaking that hip-hop supposedly promotes that Fox personalities can’t stand – they’ve made perfectly clear that they condone both. For Fox, there is a right and wrong type of criminal, and it’s determined based on the color of their skin.