After Fox News spent four years serving as former President Donald Trump’s personal propaganda tool, including by whitewashing his anti-LGBTQ record, it is now doubling down on spreading hateful rhetoric and baseless misinformation about LGBTQ people.
Extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, particularly targeting trans people, is central to Fox's business model, and it has helped fuel the rise in right-wing attacks on trans people -- including discriminatory bills being considered and often passing in state legislatures across the country. Media outlets and advocates have noted that these attacks have increased -- which comes as the GOP seeks to make up ground lost in the last election.
Notably, a Media Matters study found that the network aired 86 segments about trans people from January 20, the day President Joe Biden took office, through March 18 -- primarily aimed at best practice health care for trans youth and trans athletes. In fact, Fox aired more segments on trans athletes in the first three months of 2021, at 72, as it did in 2019 and 2020 combined.
And in the week after President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in numerous areas of public life, Fox aired 19 segments that mischaracterized the order as a move that would destroy women’s sports. (The order mentioned sports only once). Additionally, Fox has already hosted the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) 16 times this year.
In 2021, Fox’s most prominent show hosts and their guests repeatedly used extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric or spread dangerous misinformation. Here are some of the worst examples:
Tucker Carlson hosts Fox’s highest-rated show in its premiere time slot, as well as a video podcast on the subscription streaming service Fox Nation. He regularly uses his platform to spread anti-trans bigotry, including calling trans people “a challenge to the perpetuation of the species.”
- On May 7, Carlson and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller spread disinformation about best practice medical care for trans youth, falsely calling it “child abuse” and repeatedly lying that children were undergoing mutilation.
- On his podcast on April 21, Carlson and Hillsdale College visiting research scholar Glenn Ellmers falsely suggested that best practice medical care for trans youth allows people to “basically molest and abuse children.” Carlson also lied that trans youth are undergoing “genital mutilation and chemical castration.”
- On his podcast on April 7, Carlson called trans people “a challenge to the perpetuation of the species.”
- On April 6, he repeatedly lied that best practice health care for trans youth causes poor mental health side effects, stating that “the depression and the urge to self-harm and suicide is a component, is a side effect of taking these hormones.” He also repeatedly and falsely referred to such treatments as “chemical castration,” a popular myth pushed by right-wing and anti-LGBTQ media.
- On March 22, he attacked Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) for “caving” to the NCAA because she did not sign a bill that would ban trans athletes from competing in athletic events that align with their gender identity. She did, however, ban those athletes via executive action.
- On February 9, Carlson and anti-trans author Abigail Shrier spread medical misinformation about trans youth even though Carlson admitted that “most people, including me, have very little idea of what it means, medically” to transition.
- On January 25, Carlson and Shrier fearmongered about trans athletes. Shrier hyperbolically claimed that Biden’s executive order “spells the destruction of women’s sports. It’s probably the greatest blow to women’s rights we’ve seen in decades”
- On January 22, Carlson lied that Biden’s executive order would “for the first time in history, men will be allowed to compete in, for example, girls field hockey, and then change in the girls locker room afterward. Joe Biden has signed an executive order requiring it.” His guest Kara Dansky further claimed that the order will “have the impact of ... obliterating women and girls' sex-based rights at a federal level.”
- On January 19, he concluded a rant against Dr. Rachel Levine, the first openly trans federal official to be confirmed by the Senate, by saying that her nomination was “an effort to see how big a middle finger can we wag in the face of the country.”
Laura Ingraham has denigrated LGBTQ people for decades and has focused her ire in recent years on trans youth, going so far as to fearmonger that accepting trans youth will lead to children being able to “consent for sexual activity.”
- On May 6, Ingraham said, “The goal” of teaching children about they/them pronouns “is to break the bond with the nuclear family.”
- On April 29, Ingraham claimed, “The Equality Act will mean the end of women's sports as we know it. Now, it’s obvious to most Americans that allowing biological men to compete against women is just fundamentally unfair.”
- On February 26, Ingraham and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) pushed false claims about best practice health care for trans youth and fearmongered about generational increases in Americans identifying as LGBTQ. Paul asserted that providing affirming health care for trans youth is “a crime against nature,” and Ingraham questioned whether there “are external factors including social media, the internet, and so forth” that are influencing people to be LGBTQ.
- On February 23, Ingraham and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spread medical misinformation about trans youth. Ingraham claimed that affirming trans youth by allowing them to access lifesaving health care is a “radical position.” Carson falsely said providing such health care “rather abusive, quite frankly.”
Shannon Bream is the host of Fox News @ Night, part of the network’s purported “news” side, and also the network’s chief legal correspondent. In February, Fox moved her show back an hour from 11 p.m. ET to midnight. In 2021, she has provided several Republican elected officials with a platform to spread anti-LGBTQ misinformation. She also regularly hosts ADF on her show and has serially misgendered trans people.
- On March 18, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) appeared on Bream’s show, where she lied that the Equality Act will “replace mom and dad with bureaucrats.”
- During the March 17 edition of Bream’s show, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) made the absurd claim that “serial sexual predator Harvey Weinstein could transition to being a woman tomorrow, and the Equality Act would require the government to put him in a women's prison.”
- On March 1, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) appeared on the show and fearmongered that the Equality Act would “require our schools to expose girls in a junior high locker room to ... the penis of a boy who identifies as a girl.”
- On May 5, Hannity hosted Caitlyn Jenner in her first major interview since declaring her candidacy for governor of California. During the segment, Jenner doubled down on her stance that trans athletes should not compete in athletic events that align with their gender identity.
- On February 25, Fox contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy appeared on Hannity and claimed that Dr. Rachel Levine is “part of a cultural Marxist movement that wants to erase gender in order to destroy notions of the traditional family.”
Fox & Friends
Fox & Friends, Fox News’ morning talk show, is one of the most influential media platforms in the country and is a reliable source of right-wing misinformation. Fox & Friends hosts and guests regularly fearmonger about advancements in LGBTQ rights, including calling the Equality Act “the gay and transexual supremacy act.”
- On May 6, host Brian Kilmeade deadnamed Jenner. Other Fox shows have misgendered her as well.
- On March 11, Fox News contributor Newt Gringrich called the Equality Act “the gay and transsexual supremacy act,” and Kilmeade claimed that gender-neutral language is “coming from America, and it’s infecting the world. It’s usually the opposite, and I’m embarrassed by it.”
- On February 27, former NFL player Jack Brewer referred to Biden’s executive order as “the Sodom and Gomorrah declaration” and said it was an “abomination” to allow trans girls to play on girls' teams.
- On January 30, Brewer fearmongered about Biden’s executive order, saying, “We cannot indoctrinate our kids ... with these anti-Christ beliefs.”