Major Michigan-based corporations have declared their opposition to proposed legislation in Michigan fueled by Republican election integrity lies, which would severely restrict access to voting in the state. Fox News has been amplifying these lies about the danger of non-existent voter fraud since the election last year, and these lies eventually led to a violent insurrection on January 6 and have helped fuel state-level voter suppression bills like those being pushed in Michigan.
But some of these same Michigan companies taking a stand against voter suppression are among Fox News’ biggest advertisers, including General Motors, Ford, and Quicken Loans. Their practice of advertising on Fox directly contradicts the companies’ declared principles on voting rights.
In April, 30 CEOs of Michigan-based companies signed a joint statement on behalf of their companies defending voting rights in the state. The statement declares the CEOs are “united” in support for a handful of principles on the sanctity of voting, including that “government must support equitable access to the ballot to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their rights” and that “government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections – particularly among historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters.”
Among the signatories are several notable CEOs whose companies advertise regularly on Fox News, including Jim Farley of Ford Motor Company, Mary T. Barra of GM, and Jay Farner of Quicken Loans.
The joint statement issued by Michigan CEOs came a day before a similar but separate declaration titled “We Stand for Democracy,” by a much larger group of major American companies expressing a similar sentiment in support of voting rights. GM and Ford are signatories to that statement as well.
Car companies, Ford and GM especially, are the historical and cultural icons of the city of Detroit and Michigan, reflecting an industry that extends back more than a century. Quicken Loans also has extensive roots in the state, as it’s mortgage lending product Rocket Mortgage recently expanded its partnership with the Michigan State University athletic programs.
Yet by advertising on Fox, GM, Ford, and Quicken Loans are sponsoring a media outlet that is pushing misinformation that will harm the right to vote in Michigan, a vital right that prompted their joint statement.
For example, only days after the mainstream media called the 2020 election for President Joe Biden, Fox News’ Lou Dobbs began to suggest that Dominion Voting Systems’ machines in Michigan and other battleground states corruptly caused inaccurate vote counts. (The company is now suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in alleged defamation.) In recognition of the inevitable defamation claims, Fox seemingly threw Dobbs under the bus and fired him. But the conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems machines caused the election to be stolen from former President Donald Trump -- not just in Michigan but across the nation -- was all over Fox News and Fox Business.
- On November 9, prime-time host Sean Hannity promoted state Republicans efforts to “investigate this software glitch” from Dominion Voting Systems software that he claimed “actually changed thousands of votes from Trump to Biden” in Michigan.
- On November 17, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis called for the Michigan state legislature to “get involved” and block certification of the election. Bream did not push back, instead saying, “All right. We want transparency -- across the board.”
- On November 18, co-anchor Trace Gallagher and correspondent Griff Jenkins sided with rogue Michigan Republican canvassing board members who wanted to block certification of the votes from Detroit, saying moving forward with certification was “caving in” to public pressure to count votes.
- Later that day, Hannity defended the canvassing board members from accusations of racism and misconduct after they tried to disenfranchise the voters of a majority Black city.
- On November 19, Carlson promoted the affidavit of a Michigan election worker, mentioned at Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s famous hair-dye covered press conference, who claimed she had witnessed fraud at a vote counting center in Detroit. (Her claims have been debunked.) He then called for an investigation into the results of Michigan’s presidential election on this basis and said, “Voter fraud is a direct attack on our democracy, but the media don’t want to know. They’re not interested.”
- Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt suggested Dominion Voting Systems was responsible for “glitches” in Antrim County, Michigan, that purportedly switched votes from Trump to Biden. She used this to argue for an investigation into Dominion in Arizona.
- On December 15, Dobbs promoted a story about a purported “audit” of ballots in Antrim County, Michigan, being organized by a group with ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory.
There are continued demands for Fox News to account for its overwhelming lies about the election, in Michigan and nationwide, which eventually drove a deranged mob of Trump supporters to attempt to violently overthrow the government on January 6. With the 2021 upfronts on May 17, during which Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch will make a sales pitch to advertisers in hopes they will commit to large contracts to advertise on Fox News, every current advertiser who signed the “We Stand for Democracy” advertisement have the opportunity to put their money where their PR is and refuse to fund Fox News.
GM, Ford Motors, and Quicken Loans have even more of an obligation -- the right to vote in their home state is currently under attack fueled by Fox News’ lies, an assault on democracy guaranteed to continue as these voter suppression bills proceed in Michigan.