Media Matters weekly newsletter, April 12

Welcome back to Media Matters’ weekly newsletter. This week:

  • Fox News buries Arizona court decision implementing a near-total abortion ban.
  • Conservatives are divided on Trump’s abortion stance.
  • Far-right figures warn of the apocalypse with the eclipse and recent earthquake.

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Citation Andrea Austria / Media Matters

On April 9, the all-Republican Arizona Supreme Court revived a 160-year-old state law that bans abortions under almost all circumstances. The decision highlights the cruel reality of the post-Roe v. Wade world ushered in by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court loaded with Trump-appointed justices. While this is a victory for the anti-abortion movement’s decadeslong quest to ban the procedure, Fox News buried the decision in its coverage the day it was announced.

Fox provided a mere 12 minutes of coverage to the Arizona ruling on Tuesday (if you expand the range by a day, the number only goes to 24 minutes, which is less than Fox covered Trump visiting a Chick-fil-A). Some of that coverage acknowledged that the ruling could pose a serious threat to Trump’s presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Fox’s evening show “opinion” hosts did not address the decision at all.

Other right-wing media figures grappled with the political reality of the Arizona decision by pointing out how damaging it could be for Republican electoral chances in November.

  • Claiming that “Joe Biden [is] jumping all over this now,” Newsmax host Rob Schmitt called the ruling a “gold mine for a flailing president that’s destroying the country.”
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk called the decision “a proper ruling at an improper time.”
  • Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto noted that the ruling is “raising concerns that this will boomerang on conservatives and Republicans.”

Meanwhile, top figures and organizations associated with Project 2025, a sweeping initiative to provide policy and staffing proposals for a second Trump administration, have endorsed or supported the ruling.

Conservatives are now in the position of the dog that finally caught the car it was chasing. Having accomplished so much in their draconian efforts to strip women of their reproductive rights, they are now running away from their own success — like Fox’s Sean Hannity, who quickly urged Arizona Republicans to repeal the ban (and then blamed Democrats when the GOP-controlled state legislature failed to do so).

Image of Donald Trump in front of pro-choice signs

Citation Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

On Monday, disgraced former President Donald Trump released a video explaining his stance on abortion restrictions and reproductive rights. While not commenting on whether or not he would sign a congressional bill banning abortion, Trump said “the states will determine” the legality of abortion. His stance divided conservatives, with some voicing severe criticism toward his “weak” stance.

  • Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis wrote, “So weak. Trump punts on the issue of pro-life and pledges to support whatever states decide.”
  • Washington Examiner contributor Kimberly Ross posted that “Trump is no pro-life hero.”
  • Anti-abortion leader Terrisa Bukovinac posted, “Trump is a collaborator in a genocide happening right here in our own nation and is deeply unfit to lead.”

Meanwhile, other conservative figures resumed their normal posture of complete fealty to their Dear Leader.

  • Fox News host Sean Hannity backed Trump, calling a total ban on abortion “political suicide.”
  • Fox contributor Charlie Hurt said Trump’s statement was “a very smart move by him.”
  • Daily Wire host Ben Shapiro acknowledged that it was “smart politics” for Trump to avoid taking a stance on abortion.

There is plenty of evidence that Trump and his MAGA allies simply want the issue of abortion to go away until after the election. Trump has repeatedly taken credit for overturning Roe v. Wade, spoken openly about getting a national abortion ban “done,” and surrounded himself with zealots who have close ties to a network of people talking openly about using a second Trump administration to restrict abortion access to unprecedented levels. National broadcast outlets did not adequately provide context to Trump’s statements this week.

The American people deserve to be fully informed about the radical anti-abortion stance of Trump and the Republican Party.

Newsmax: "Joe 'Bidenopolis' is the greatest Greek who ever lived"

This week in stupid 

  • Fox’s Sean Hannity said the government shouldn’t be trusted with Social Security and Medicare.
  • Fox’s Newt Gingrich claimed the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would agree with Donald Trump’s stance on abortion.
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters suggested coverage of Dexter Reed (a 26 year-old Black man killed by Chicago police) is a plot by the media to hide Donald Trump’s visit to Chick-fil-A.

This week in scary

  • Fox contributor Liz Peek compared policies to expand voter registration and access to 9/11. 
  • Fox Business guest Mark Simone said “it’s not the worst thing in the world” that women are being forced to travel to get an abortion.

Excuse me?

  • Newsmax’s Greg Kelly claimed chef José Andrés’ “attitude and his attention-seeking may have helped lead to” the deaths of World Central Kitchen aid workers killed by Israeli drone strikes in Gaza.
  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld said Black people “didn’t earn” reparations.

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters

Two natural phenomena occurred in the United States over the last seven days — an earthquake on April 5 and a solar eclipse on April 8. While there is nothing nefarious about two purely natural events occurring near each other, far-right media figures used them to push conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric.

  • MAGA troll and “Pizzagate” promoter Jack Posobiec suggested in a social media post that the earthquake and eclipse “foretell the coming of a Great Leader.”
  • Naomi Wolf, who has pushed COVID-19 conspiracy theories, suggested the eclipse and earthquake are signs of the “the end.”
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claimed that the eclipse and earthquake are “signs to tell us to repent.”
  • Infowars’ Alex Jones claimed that “Masonic rituals” would coincide with the eclipse.

In case you missed it

  • Following the deadly April 1 attacks by Israel on a World Central Kitchen humanitarian aid convoy in Gaza, right-wing media have attacked WCK founder José Andrés for his response.
  • Right-wing media attacked President Joe Biden’s plan to relieve 30 million student loan borrowers as “vote buying.”
  • Fox News is misleading its viewers about grocery price inflation, telling viewers that food prices are rising. According the Federal Trade Commission, however, major grocery companies raised prices higher than their costs during the pandemic and are still keeping their prices at an elevated level. 
  • A QAnon and Pizzagate filmmaker who appeared on-stage with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago claimed the former president said he wants to watch his conspiracy theory movie.
  • Right-wing media attacked special counsel Jack Smith for legal criticism of the Trump classified-documents judge.