Abortion rights

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Fox News’ strategy for abortion messaging in the 2022 midterms is denying there’s an issue at all

From the Kansas abortion referendum to multiple polls that have found abortion to be a motivating issue (including one from Fox News), the pressure to protect abortion rights is clearly a key issue driving voters to the booths. But Fox News personalities and guests have suggested otherwise, repeatedly denying that abortion is or should be motivating anyone. 

The network’s coverage includes a claim that the Kansas vote (which defeated a referendum effectively eliminating abortion rights) was due to the deep pockets of pro-abortion activists, dismissal of a Wall Street Journal poll that found abortion to be a motivating issue as “propaganda,” and a “straight news” report claiming that inflation and jobs were the top two issues for voters while the on-screen graphic showed otherwise. 

Here is a list of more examples of Fox anchors, hosts, contributors, and guests downplaying the importance of abortion rights in the midterms:

  • Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway downplayed abortion rights concerns as a Democrat effort to “get some excitement going for their party.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/18/22]

  • Fox host Rachel Campos-Duffy criticized Democrats as focused on “luxury issues” like abortion access, gun violence, and the January 6 insurrection. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 6/12/22

  • Fox guest and RealClearPolitics co-founder Tom Bevan: “Democrats keep thinking that maybe it’s, you know, they can change their fortune on the January 6 committee or guns or abortion. It's not going to happen.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/10/22]

  • Fox contributor Kellyanne Conway: Democrats are “hoping abortion, guns, January 6 committee will get them enthused. It won't.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/22/22]

  • Fox anchor Harris Faulkner said it would be “disingenuous” for Democrats and Biden to press abortion rights when people are dealing with inflation. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/24/22]

  • Guest John Solomon cited a Gallup poll that found “only 27%” of people said abortion matters to them, adding, “That means the rest of people are making decisions based on lots of issues. This is a pocketbook election.” (It appears Solomon may have been citing a Gallup poll that found 27% of those polled stated that a candidate must share their views on abortion while 54% listed abortion as one of many important factors.) [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 6/26/22; Gallup, accessed 10/17/22]

  • Guest Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Abortion access “will be one of the issues we talk about when we elect senators and House members and members of the statehouses and governors. But it’s not going to change the 2022 outcome.” [Fox News, Fox News Sunday, 6/26/22]

  • Fox host Laura Ingraham: “Democrats and their media supporters are hoping abortion is going to galvanize all these suburbanites and save the Democrats from a midterm rout. Well, unlikely.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/28/22]

  • Fox host Steve Doocy: “The Democrats would like November to be about January 6 and about abortion, but when the kitchen table issues are the price of chicken and gas is 5 bucks, that's what you vote on.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/29/22]

  • Fox anchor Martha MacCallum on abortion rights: “My sense is that it is not as strong a political issue when you get to November.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/29/22]

  • Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen: “Abortion’s not going to save [Democrats], right? In normal times, most people don’t vote on abortion. These are not normal times. I mean, maybe if the streets were safe, and the border was secure, and prices were low, and gas was plentiful and cheap, and there was peace in the world, then some people might vote on — more people might vote on abortion. But if you’re a person who’s choosing between gas and food, you’re not going to be thinking about abortion when you go into the voting booth.” [Fox News, America Reports, 6/29/22]

  • Fox anchor Bill Hemmer assessed that abortion was “way down the list” in terms of issues important to voters in the midterms. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/5/22]

  • Fox host Jesse Watters deemed Democrats out of touch on abortion: “This abortion thing is really not playing. I saw a poll — I think it was Monmouth — it’s like dead last. People are out of touch with this.” In a poll released the same day Watters made this comment, Monmouth found “abortion, reproductive rights” as the fifth biggest concern among those polled, at 5 percent. The polling report notes that abortion had previously registered less than 1% in Monmouth polls going back to 2015. [Fox News, The Five, 7/5/22; Monmouth, accessed 10/24/22]

  • Fox host Brian Kilmeade: “The administration is banking on Roe v. Wade to somehow stem the political carnage in the midterms. So far, Roe v. Wade is not a top issue amongst Americans’ concern.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/6/22]

  • Hemmer: “A lot of people thought the abortion issue would rise in prominence, but it has yet to really get into double digits. I’d say in all the polling we’ve seen, based on Monmouth and some of the polling at the end last week, abortion was still in the single digits.” [Fox News, America Reports, 7/6/22]

  • Conway: “Joe Biden and the Democrats’ answer to everything is Roe vs. Wade, Roe vs. Wade, Roe vs. Wade. Women are not single-issue thinkers. We are not single-issue voters. Stop talking to us about one issue. We can do the economy, energy, education, immigration, inflation, and abortion.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 7/11/22]

  • Fox News guest, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): “When women find out that this is not a ban on abortion, that this is returning the issue to the states, most women agree that this is where it should be. And then they turn to other issues: inflation, crime in the streets, drugs, fentanyl, the deaths that are there, that open southern border.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 7/12/22]

  • Hemingway attempted to spin the Kansas abortion referendum by attributing the outcome to “so much money … spent by hardcore abortion supporters.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/2/22]

  • Conway struggled to justify the outcome of the Kansas referendum, suggesting, “It may be just a little too soon for some voters to be going to the ballot box and saying no to abortion.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/3/22]

  • When asked about the Kansas referendum and what it means for the midterms, Graham responded, “I think the midterms are gonna be about public safety, inflation, how you're doing at home, how you feel about your family's safety, and kitchen table issues.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/3/22]

  • Ingraham: Democrat candidates are “running on the fantasy of climate change and abortion.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/22/22]

  • Conway claimed that “you can't win an entire midterm cycle on one issue, abortion.” Conway went on to criticize then-candidate Pat Ryan in New York for focusing on abortion: “It makes no sense.” (Ryan, a Democrat, went on to win his election.) [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/23/22]
  • Conway appeared the following day to dismiss the results of New York’s 19th Congressional District special election, saying that “Democrats will probably look at this as a successful blueprint for running on — mostly running on abortion.” [Fox News, America Reports, 8/24/22]
  • Ingraham Angle chyron: “Dems think abortion will lead them to electoral promised land.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/25/22]

  • On The Ingraham Angle, Hemingway said, “I don't think abortion is as good of an issue for them as they seem to think. Their view is actually incredibly extreme,” later adding that “obviously, the real issues are the ones that people care about in their day-to-day” like economy, inflation, the border, crime, and schools. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/25/22]

  • In an interview with Republican Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley of Washington, Ingraham remarked that Democrats “think they can ride the abortion issue all the way to victory.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/25/22]

  • Conway: “If the Democratic Party wants to be the party of calling people names and abortion, let's do it. Have at it. Because, yes, it’s going to motivate many of the pro-choice voters, but I think the pro-life voters are also animated and electrified to come out because they're grateful that their voices have been heard.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/26/22]

  • Fox News contributor James Freeman claimed that abortion rights will not be a driving issue in the midterms because “it will be broadly available.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 9/6/22

  • Ingraham and her guest, Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters of Arizona, refused to accept a Wall Street Journal poll that found that abortion rights is a top issue motivating voters, with Masters also rejecting a GOP strategist who said the party needs to respond to abortion concerns: “What I think we’re seeing is propaganda,” said Masters. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 9/6/22]

  • Ingraham: “So while a popular narrative has emerged that sending the issue of abortion back to the states going to suddenly turn the women’s vote back to the Democrats, I don’t buy it. I’ve told you this all along. I do not buy this narrative.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 9/9/22]

  • Ingraham: “I don’t believe that with the choices between ‘I want more abortions across America’ or ‘I want more money in my pocket,’ people are going to choose they want more abortions. I just don’t think — I think that’s a loser argument.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 9/12/22]

  • Fox News contributor Ben Domenech warned that “we shouldn’t be gaslit into believing” that abortion rights might affect the midterms in favor of Democrats. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/13/22]

  • Fox correspondent Jacqui Heinrich reported, “More than a third saying in a new Fox poll either inflation and high prices or the economy and jobs are their biggest reasons to vote,” despite the on-screen graphic showing abortion as the number 2 issue motivating people to vote. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/14/22]

  • This post has been lightly edited for clarity.