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Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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Fox News’ coverage of Florida’s six-week abortion ban lasted less than 1 minute

The network neglected to even mention the ban during an interview with the Florida attorney general the day it went into effect

Fox News spent less than 1 minute covering Florida’s six-week abortion ban during the first full day of the restrictive new policy. Notably, Fox & Friends interviewed Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody just hours after the law went into effect without ever mentioning the new restrictions. Fox News is yet again virtually ignoring the impact of leaving abortion and reproductive rights up to the states, continuing its historically abysmal record of covering the issue.

  • Key findings

    • Since Florida’s six-week abortion ban took effect on May 1, Fox News covered the ban for less than 1 minute. The network mentioned the ban only in passing. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 5/1/24; Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/1/24]
    • On the day that the abortion ban went into effect, Fox News hosted Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to discuss nationwide student protests calling for universities to divest from Israel, but the network did not ask her about the ban. During her appearance on Fox & Friends, Moody also disparaged student protesters and criticized changes to Title IX proposed by the Biden administration. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/1/24]
  • Florida’s restrictive six-week abortion ban has taken effect

    • Florida's six-week abortion ban took effect on May 1. Initially passed by the Republican legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April 2023, the six-week ban will replace the 15-week abortion ban the state passed in preparation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022. [The New York Times, 4/13/23, 5/1/24; Politico, 5/1/24]
    • Medical experts stress that banning abortion access at six weeks is “nearly a total ban” because the law measures pregnancies from the first day of the last menstrual period, weeks before conception and even longer before a pregnancy may be detectable. As NPR notes, “That means the time a person has to decide whether or not to have an abortion in Florida is – at most – two weeks.” [NPR, 5/1/24]
    • Reproductive rights activists and clinics throughout the state have rallied around Amendment 4, a ballot initiative seeking to enshrine abortion access in the state’s constitution. Ohio recently passed a similar ballot initiative in the 2023 midterm election, and groups in states such as Colorado and Arizona are planning on introducing their own ballot initiatives for November. [Politico, 4/6/24; Axios, 11/7/23]
  • Fox News has historically misinformed viewers on abortion and dramatically underreported changes to reproductive rights

    • In April, Fox News spent more time covering former President Donald Trump’s visit to a Georgia Chick-fil-A than Arizona’s near-total abortion ban, which was ruled upon on the same day as Trump’s restaurant visit. [Media Matters, 4/11/24]
    • Fox News spent only 12 minutes covering the April 9 court decision implementing a near-total abortion ban in Arizona, compared to MSNBC and CNN which both spent at least 2 hours on the news the day the story broke. [Media Matters, 4/10/24]
    • In March, Fox News covered the Supreme Court case that could affect access to abortion drug mifepristone nationwide for only 20 minutes. In comparison, CNN spent over 1 hour on coverage, while MSNBC devoted almost 4 hours covering the case. [Media Matters, 3/28/24]
    • Fox News spent less than 30 minutes covering the district court rulings in Texas and Washington over FDA approval of mifepristone, while CNN and MSNBC each spent over 7 hours covering the stories. [Media Matters, 4/11/23]
    • Fox News practically ignored a national abortion ban proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), affording the news only 5 minutes of coverage on the day it was introduced. [Media Matters, 9/14/22]
    • During coverage of the 2022 draft opinion indicating the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade, Fox News featured a majority of men (64%) and white people (87%) while omitting voices of those who would be most impacted by the overturning of Roe. [Media Matters, 5/7/22]
    • A 12-month-long study revealed that Fox News dominated cable coverage of abortion with programming that was rife with misinformation and fearmongering. [Media Matters, 9/23/19]
  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Florida, ” “court,” “ban,” “amendment,” “Roe,” “Wade,” or “ballot” or any spelling of the term “DeSantis” within close proximity of the term “abortion” or any variation of any of the terms “reproductive,” “pregnant,” or “six weeks” from May 1, 2024, when Florida's new law took effect restricting abortion after six weeks since the woman's last menstrual cycle, through 11 a.m. ET May 2, 2024.

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when Florida's six-week abortion ban was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the ban. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the ban with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned the ban without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the ban scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.