Fox News anchor Bret Baier called former President Donald Trump's promise to “root out” his political enemies, whom he described as “vermin,” the weekend’s “biggest political news” during a Monday segment on Special Report. But not on Fox, where the story has received only 4 minutes of coverage — including repeated criticisms of other news outlets for supposedly covering it too much and too harshly.
“We pledge to you that we will root out the communist, Marxist, fascist and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,” Trump said in a Saturday speech and post on Truth Social. He added that his foes want “to destroy America and to destroy the American dream” and that “the threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within.”
Experts on authoritarianism warned that Trump’s rhetoric compares to that of fascist dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. But Fox’s zealous support for Trump requires ignoring or downplaying the increasingly unhinged remarks and authoritarian vision of the runaway leader for the Republican presidential nomination.
Fox devoted only 4 minutes to Trump’s “vermin” remarks, according to a Media Matters review. The coverage, all on Monday, consisted of a brief mention on the “news side” program America Reports, a correspondent report and panel discussion on Special Report, and discussion during “opinion side” host Laura Ingraham’s interview with right-wing pundit Tulsi Gabbard on The Ingraham Angle.
During the Special Report panel segment, Baier highlighted a Washington Post report on the comments that, in Baier’s words, “goes on to talk to historians and effectively using the language of Hitler and Mussolini” and added that the remarks had received “a lot of coverage.”
In reality, while CNN and MSNBC both devoted extensive time to the story, Baier’s network, which before his Monday evening program had dedicated only a single brief mention to Trump’s Saturday remarks, was among many major news outlets providing relatively scant coverage of Trump’s “vermin” remarks.
Baier then asked Fox political analyst Brit Hume, “What's your thoughts on that and the framing of it?” Hume replied in part by downplaying Trump’s remarks, saying, “Well, I don't see Hitler and Mussolini. We had four years of Trump; we didn't get Hitler or Mussolini out of it.”
Ingraham’s subsequent broadcast provided nearly half of Fox’s coverage of Trump’s “vermin” remarks. She and her guest criticized CNN and MSNBC personalities for noting that Trump’s rhetoric echoed that of Hitler before engaging in whataboutism regarding “antisemitic loons on college campuses.”
Newsmax, Fox’s primary cable news rival, has likewise minimized Trump’s remarks and lashed out at news outlets for treating them critically.
“You're allowed to talk about draining the swamp,” prime-time host Greg Kelly said on Monday. “They say that Donald Trump is like Hitler, he's using the same words that Hitler used. Well, Hitler used the word chair, OK? I sit in a chair. That doesn't make me – right? You see? But they don't stop, do they?”
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original episodes on Fox News Channel for either of the terms “Trump” or “former president” within close proximity of any of the terms “vermin,” “root out,” “radical left,” “thug,” “communist,” “Marxist,” “fascist,” “threat,” or “destroy” from November 11, 2023, when Trump made the comments during a Veterans Day address in Claremont, New Hampshire, through 11 a.m. November 14, 2023.
We timed segments, which we defined as instances when Trump's 2023 Veterans Day speech in which he likened his political opponents to “vermin” was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of those comments from the address. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the comments with one another.
We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned Trump's remarks without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about Trump's comments scheduled to air later in the broadcast.
We rounded all times to the nearest minute.