The Progress Pride Flag, created in 2018, includes pink, white, and blue stripes to represent transgender individuals and black and brown stripes to represent communities of color. The black stripe also honors victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis. The flag was also displayed at the Pride Month event at the White House in 2022, which was hosted indoors due to heat.
In an escalation of its smear against the White House’s Pride celebration last weekend, Fox News falsely characterized the flag as “an homage to the cult of pedophilia infecting many institutions,” citing the founder of anti-LGBTQ troll group Gays Against Groomers, Jaimee Michell. A portion of the original article read: “Critics charge that the new design actually glorifies pedophilia at a time when children are being flagrantly sexualized in public schools and elsewhere against the wishes of their parents.”
Large, bolded text in the original article also quoted right-wing influencer and Black Guns Matter founder Maj Toure: “These colors right here seem to be a little strange. This goes into what’s called minor-attracted person or youth-attracted person. Pedophile flag.” This dangerous and false claim has been debunked, despite its proliferation in right-wing circles on social media.
Fox News retained Toure’s false assertion in its updated version of the article. In fact, Fox staff kept most of the original article’s references conflating the flag with pedophilia, changing only the headline and the bolded text portion. The updated article’s framing remains the same, couched in language attributing slanderous allegations to “critics” of the flag (although the new version adds the word “some” before “critics”).
Fox News’ apparent attempt to link the White House to an endorsement of pedophilia was not disclosed to the White House prior to the article’s publication. White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates tweeted Fox’s request for comment, which omits any reference to the article’s dishonest framing. “@FoxNews is characteristically lying through their teeth,” he wrote. “Fox never even communicated the malicious and discredited foundation of this article to the White House.”
Ironically, the network used the Progress Pride flag design in its 2022 “Corporate Social Responsibility Report,” wrapping its logo in the trans-inclusive colors. However, Fox’s corporate attempts to brand itself as an inclusive company ring hollow amid its violence-inducing hate campaign against drag performers and transgender people. The publication and shady revision of this article are a continuation — and a concerning escalation — of that trend.