Last week, 19 children and two teachers were horrifically killed when an 18-year-old with an assault rifle barricaded himself in a classroom in Uvalde, Texas.
In response, Fox launched a sickening week-long, yet familiar, campaign to desensitize its audience to the massacre, hidden under the pretense of militaristic solutions and fruitless thoughts and prayers.
In its coverage, Fox placed blame on everything but guns for the shooting, scapegoating unlocked doors, poor fencing, and even a lack of “trip wires” and “man traps” in schools. Hosts and guests then attempted to normalize the violence, arguing that a society supposedly lacking traditional masculinity, respect for law enforcement, families with two opposite-gender parents, and Judeo-Christian values would inevitably lead a young man to senseless acts. The role of the gun was dismissed in favor of Fox’s favorite rhetorical strategy: connecting societal issues to nonexistent culture wars.
This week, however, the supposed outrage took a back seat to the network’s passionate praise of Tom Cruise's sequel of the beloved film Top Gun. Sensing an opportunity to stir outrage, Fox claimed victory, praising the movie’s idealized brand of patriotism. On Monday, Fox & Friends guest co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy characterized the film as “unabashedly patriotic.” Outnumbered co-host Tomi Lahren lauded the movie for not giving in to “woke” societal standards. The next day, Jesse Watters opened his prime-time show by touting the movie for being “unapologetically American,” crediting the movie’s box office success on “no liberalism, no hidden agenda, just simply pro-American.”
The network’s focus on Top Gun: Maverick is more than another tally mark in a never-ending culture war; it’s an attempt to distract from the 21 lives violently cut short due to a lethal weapon that was legally obtained by a teenager.
Fox preys upon its audience, still reeling from the pain of seeing 19 children massacred, by inundating viewers with easily digestible rage that can be directed at obscure, distant elitists in Hollywood. Meanwhile, commonsense and crucial gun reforms to protect children fade from view. And we’re all left wondering when the next mass shooting will happen, kicking off Fox’s cycle again.