A report from TheBlaze about a donation matching program at Fox which includes organizations that conservatives frequently target led to a right-wing media freakout, especially from Fox competitor Newsmax.
The outrage focused on the third-party donation portal’s option to donate to The Satanic Temple, even though none of the Blaze reports mentioned that anyone at Fox ever donated to that organization, much less received a matching donation from the company.
TheBlaze targeted Fox for offering to match employees’ donations to charities of their choosing, via an online portal that included The Satanic Temple
On July 21, TheBlaze reported that “Fox News whistleblowers expose[d]” Fox’s “support for far-left charities,” through “an app in the company portal that facilitates charitable donations via the Canadian-based donation management platform Benevity.”
The Blaze article notes that there is an option of a company match of up to $1,000 for at least some of the organizations to which Fox employees can choose to donate, specifically mentioning and attacking not only the The Satanic Temple, but also such groups as The Trevor Project, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The reporting was also covered on the radio program of Glenn Beck, the former Fox News host who founded TheBlaze, and on July 24 TheBlaze reported that Fox had removed The Satanic Temple as a donation option, even though the Blaze coverage had never reported that any donations went there.
Although TheBlaze said it received no response from Fox, Fox News Digital columnist David Marcus responded on social media, writing: “This isn’t odd. Many companies provide matching dollars for 501 (c) 3 charitable donations. If MSNBC refused to match a donation to a conservative think tank we’d say that was wrong, because it would be.”
A crucial point is that The Satanic Temple is not a religious organization nor is it made up of devil-worshippers. Co-founder Doug Mesner, who also goes by the alias Lucien Greaves, explained to Vice in 2013 that it was created as an activist organization to present a “‘poison pill’ in the Church/State debate,” by asserting rights and privileges claimed by religious groups, and that he and other members largely do not hold supernatural beliefs.
Right-wing blog Gateway Pundit, podcaster Tim Pool, One America News, various right-wing media personalities, and a few far-right social media trolls and MAGA celebrities all shared or commented on TheBlaze’s story. But it’s Newsmax, a right-wing cable competitor to Fox, that went overboard in covering the article — often spearheaded by former Fox employees.
Ex-Fox host Eric Bolling led Newsmax’s crusade against Fox, hyping TheBlaze’s reporting
Newsmax launched a full-on publicity blitz against Fox News, accusing Fox of supporting satanic and left-wing causes in a betrayal of the company’s image and its viewers’ fundamental values of “God, family, country.” This barrage is being led most prominently by Newsmax host Eric Bolling, a former Fox host whom the network fired in 2017 over reports that he had sent lewd photos to multiple women he’d worked with.
Bolling kicked off the Friday night edition of his Newsmax show with a monologue attacking his former network during which he also grossly mischaracterized how a corporate matching donation program actually works.
“And Fox News decides which organizations the company donates to — not the employees,” Bolling said. “So at Fox News, the very channel you, the American people, used to trust for news, has sided with the far left’s way of thinking. And now it supports anti-Christian agendas.”
Bolling then hosted another ex-Fox host, Glenn Beck, for an interview in which the two waxed nostalgically about the Fox they had known under founder Roger Ailes.
“Say what you want about Roger Ailes, but he knew the American heartland and he cared,” Beck declared, contrasting that to the supposedly “woke” Fox of today. (Ailes resigned from Fox News in 2016, following multiple reports of sexual harassment.)
Beck also made a direct appeal to current Fox viewers: “If you are frequenting Fox News or part of their club — I'm not talking about the people on the air, but the people who are now running it are not the friends of our Constitution and our God, I believe.”
Bolling then interviewed Beth Ailes, widow of the Fox News founder, who attacked her late husband’s former network: “Christianity is under attack, and what we're seeing from Fox is industrialized Devil worship.”
Beth Ailes also delivered a similar call to action for conservative viewers to abandon Fox.
“This is a sad revelation that we've been made aware of, but actually, I think people who were loyal to Fox have plenty of other options now,” she said. “And I think that the way they treated Roger, Tucker [Carlson], and the list is long, they will suffer the consequences. Every action has a reaction, and we are seeing that their decisions in the boardroom are going to cause the decline and fall of Fox, which we are watching in real time.”
“Bud Light moment”: At least 8 other Newsmax programs followed Bolling’s lead to attack Fox
Newsmax continued to cover the story on some of its weekend programs, followed by yet more coverage on Monday, most of which cited Bolling’s interviews of Beck or Ailes or simply replayed them:
- Newsmax host Rita Cosby asked, “Is Fox going the way of Bud Light?” Emphasizing possible donations to The Satanic Temple, the former Fox host asked her guest, Media Research Center’s Tim Graham, “Has Fox gone full woke?” Graham called the donation matching program “a PR problem” like Ailes’ sexual harassment of Fox employees. He also noted that other conservative media outlets are “gunning for Fox” and that there’s no evidence that any donations were made to The Satanic Temple. [Newsmax, Saturday Report, 7/22/23]
- On Newsmax’s America Right Now, guest Dennis Kneale compared the story to the Dominion defamation lawsuit, which “showed that Fox News anchors were lying.” Like in Newsmax’s other coverage, Kneale and the host specifically called out The Satanic Temple as a donation option. Host Tom Basile also asked, “Is this like a Bud Light moment for them?” [Newsmax, America Right Now, 7/22/23]
- Newsmax’s Saturday Agenda covered TheBlaze’s article in a news report. Like previous coverage, the segment focused on The Satanic Temple, even though correspondent Sarah Williamson explained that “they explicitly say that it does not worship Satan or believe in Satan.” Host Kilmeny Duchardt also asked a guest, attorney Andrew Lieb, whether Fox’s charity donation matching program violates any laws. [Newsmax, Saturday Agenda, 7/22/23]
- On Newsmax’s The Count, host Lidia Curanaj and guest Brandon Straka also joined in the channel’s freakout over Fox’s option of donating to The Satanic Temple. Curanaj asked, “What the heck is going on over at Fox News,” and later said to her guest, who received three years of probation for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, “Have they lost their minds?” [Newsmax, The Count, 7/22/23]
- Newsmax guest and pro-Trump pastor Darrell C. Scott made the startling allegation: “What I find, you know, interesting is the fact that if Fox is matching donations to satanic temples, then there are practicing satanists employed at Fox whose donations are being matched. I find that very interesting.” Newsmax correspondent John Huddy also gave some personal perspective on Fox’s direction: “Full disclosure, I worked for Fox, and I knew Roger Ailes my whole life — he was actually my godfather. And Roger, yeah, I mean, he ran things, you know, to the T there. The buck stopped with him. He wouldn’t let this type of thing get out of control and would basically cut it off.” [Newsmax, John Bachman Now, 7/24/23]
- Newsmax host Katrina Szish highlighted an “apparent about-face this afternoon from the executives at Fox News,” which she said had been “pushing employee donations to far-left groups, including one called the Satanic Temple.” Newsmax host Dick Morris also highlighted the available donation matching to Planned Parenthood: “And for Fox News to call itself a conservative network while it’s actually paying for abortions … is really hypocritical. And I think we’re looking here at some blatant act of hypocrisy by Fox News.” (Morris also formerly worked for Fox.) [Newsmax, American Agenda, 7/24/23]
- Newsmax host Chris Salcedo and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins not only claimed that Fox had been “giving” money to the Satanic Temple, but widened the attack to potential donations to Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Perkins added, as a call to action against Fox: “Here’s something that people should consider that watch Fox — that if Fox says anything about corporate wokeism, look, right back at them.” [Newsmax, The Chris Salcedo Show, 7/24/23]
- Bolling interviewed Mesner of The Satanic Temple, who explained that Fox merely used a third-party donation portal that included his organization: “People within The Satanic Temple weren't worried that we had some kind of formal background affiliation with Fox, which they would also reject.” Bolling replied, “I don't buy this crap, Lucien. … I don't buy this garbage that they didn't know, Fox didn't know who they were giving their money to, because I think they do, and the only reason why they brought it down is because they got caught.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 7/24/23]
- Bolling then spoke with right-wing activist and defrocked Catholic priest Frank Pavone, who rhetorically asked Fox whether the network was not only trying to alienate its audience, but also “trying to destroy America.” Bolling himself then added: “The reason why it's so outrageous is that, you know, I spent 11 years there. It was always a very, I don't know, Middle America values, Christian values, pro-conservative, common-sense values. And then you open up their portal, and they're willing to match dollar for dollar up to a thousand to the Satanic Temple.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 7/24/23]
- Later on Newsmax, the bottom-screen news ticker displayed the headline “Satanic Temple leader to Newsmax: Fox News being held to unreasonable standard.” Commenting on the story, Newsmax hosts Greg Kelly Morris attacked Fox News for purportedly caring only about money and advertisers, rather than America. [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 7/24/23]