Fox and Friends court expansion hostile takeover

Research/Study Research/Study

As Democrats propose expanding the Supreme Court, Fox News dominates the conversation

Fox discussed Democratic court proposal for over 5 hours, while MSNBC devoted 18 minutes, and CNN spent just 23 seconds on the topic

  • After news broke that Democrats were proposing legislation to rebalance the Supreme Court by expanding it after years of Republican manipulation of the nomination process, Fox News dominated the cable news conversation on the topic while CNN and MSNBC barely covered the effort at all.

    From Wednesday evening, when the news broke, through noon on Friday, Fox News spent 5 hours and 28 minutes discussing court expansion, frequently calling the policy idea a “power grab.” In comparison, MSNBC spent just 18 minutes on the topic, and CNN discussed it for just 23 seconds. 

  • Cable news coverage of proposed legislation to expand the Supreme Court
  • Fox’s coverage was extremely critical and unhinged from reality. And the network failed to mention either that Republicans had recently rigged the Supreme Court by blocking President Barack Obama from filling his last court vacancy or that they then hypocritically rammed through a right-wing pick in the last months of the Trump administration.

    When news about the legislation broke, Fox News’ Sean Hannity introduced his reporting on court expansion by falsely characterizing it as “an unbridled, unconstitutional, authoritarian, statist, power grab,” saying, “It must not pass. The future of our republic, between this and H.R. 1, is at stake.” Appearing on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight the same evening, Fox’s Jeanine Pirro described the proposed legislation as “madness. It’s madness, as if the country isn’t lost enough.” Host Tucker Carlson concluded the segment by commenting, “Amazing. The most radical moment in American history, and we are living through it together.” On her Fox News show, Laura Ingraham claimed that this proposal to expand the court is a “hateful move” and another example showing that Democrats “hate our history, ... hate our traditions.”

    Fox often dominates the conversation on important topics such as abortion, climate change, and immigration coverage, driving the narrative with its wild-eyed and fact-free coverage.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for any of the terms “court,” “SCOTUS,” “bench,” “judge,” or any variation of “judiciary” within close proximity to any of the terms “add,” or variations of “pack” or “expand”from April 14, 2021, through noon EDT on April 16, 2021. We timed any mention, discussion, or reporting on the Democratic proposal to expand the Supreme Court.