Fox News’ biggest stars have amplified and in some cases openly embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory both on the airwaves and off going back to 2018. As QAnon has gotten more attention recently, network personalities have whitewashed both its links to violence and how unhinged the conspiracy theory truly is.
The QAnon conspiracy theory has been identified by the FBI as a potential domestic terrorism threat. Adherents have committed acts of violence in the name of their beliefs, including the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Fox Corp. properties, which are essential cogs in the pro-Trump Republican propaganda machine, are not immune to QAnon’s growing influence. Personalities from Fox News, Fox Business, and Fox Nation have repeatedly embraced the conspiracy theory, and Fox straight-“news” anchors have minimized the movement’s harm by failing to mention the potential terror threat and other instances of violence connected to it.
The admiration goes both ways -- a QAnon-inspired alleged killer was obsessed with Fox News, frequently posting clips from the network on his social media. On 8chan (now 8kun), “Q” encouraged followers to tune into Sean Hannity’s conspiratorial Fox show.
Here’s a list of the documented overlap between the QAnon conspiracy theory and the top-rated cable news network.
- Tucker Carlson defended the conspiracy theory on his January 25 prime-time show, saying, “If they succeed in controlling what you believe you are no longer a citizen, you are no longer a free man, you are a slave.”
- That same evening, Laura Ingraham said efforts to deradicalize military service members are “absolutely poisonous” and will not lead “to a freer and more united America.”
- The day before Election Day, Fox News host Brian Kilmeade and contributor Dan Bongino shared a video on Twitter from a major QAnon account which praised Trump.
- Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee’s political organization Huck PAC has donated to at least five Republican candidates who have expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.
- Fox host Lou Dobbs hosted disgraced former Gen. Michael Flynn on December 3, 2020. Flynn is a known supporter of QAnon and a hero to its followers.
- Three Fox News contributors donated to QAnon supporter Lauren Boebert’s campaign for the House of Representatives.
- Tucker Carlson hosted Noor bin Ladin, a QAnon conspiracy theorist and a niece of Osama Bin Laden, to discuss her support for Trump.
- On August 25, Fox & Friends First hosted Mary Ann Mendoza, who was scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention later that night. When Mendoza was dropped as a speaker after she was exposed as a QAnon supporter later that day, Fox followed up on the story with less than a minute of coverage.
- Former Fox Nation host Isaiah Washington is an avowed supporter of QAnon. He has also pushed conspiracy theories about COVID-19, 5G networks, Black Lives Matter, and other topics.
- Jesse Watters, co-host of The Five and host of Watters’ World on Fox News, has embraced QAnon twice. On July 25, Watters praised the movement, saying they’ve “uncovered a lot of great stuff when it comes to Epstein and when it comes to the deep state.” A December 2019 segment on Watters’ World about the conspiracy theory was a huge hit among QAnon supporters. The segment did not feature criticism of the movement by the host, nor did it mention any instances of violence linked to the movement.
- On August 7, Sean Hannity hosted and praised “up-and-coming” QAnon congressional candidate Lauren Boebert on her primary win in Colorado’s third district.
- In 2018, prime-time host Sean Hannity quote tweeted a large QAnon account. The original tweet contained the QAnon hashtag.
- Fox host Greg Gutfeld laughed while falsely claiming the QAnon movement has not been linked to violence on August 20.
- On July 12, Fox & Friends interviewed a Trump supporter wearing a t-shirt with “Q” written on it. Trump later tweeted praise for him.
- On May 22, 2019, Fox & Friends hosted a QAnon conspiracy theorist who regularly posts messages on a bigoted pro-Trump message board on Reddit without noting his online activity.
- In August 2018, Fox & Friends interviewed a QAnon conspiracy theorist who had previously claimed that the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was “fake” and the victims who survived the shooting were “actors.”
- In June 2019, Fox & Friends Weekend interviewed a man wearing a QAnon hat in a diner, to the delight of the movement’s online supporters.
- In a segment on the March 22, 2019, edition of Fox & Friends First, a Fox reporter “cited a major promoter of QAnon,” including their tweet praising Trump.
- In March 2019, “straight news” reporter Kevin Corke tweeted a picture of a coffee cup with the letter Q on it, writing, “My kind of coffee.” later deleted the tweet, but still liked dozens of tweets referencing the conspiracy theory as supporters praised him for his support.
- Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo quote tweeted a QAnon account praising her in January, saying Trump will have a legacy of “real leadership.”
- The president of the New York Police Department’s second-largest union appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto for an interview with a QAnon mug in the background.
- Fox contributor Charlie Hurt retweeted a tweet from a QAnon supporter featuring a video compilation of recent protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer.
- Fox contributor Sara Carter wrote, “LOL Awesome answer” in a quote tweet that featured a video of Trump’s support of QAnon. The quote tweet was from Mike Cernovich, a bigoted rape apologist and “pizzagate” conspiracy theorist who has pushed fake news.
- Carter retweeted praise of her article in a tweet that said, “Your article just got Q’d! . Great job! #WWG1WGA”
- Fox Business host Lou Dobbs quote tweeted the same tweet that contained the hashtag.
On August 19, when Trump praised QAnon supporters as people who “love this country,” Fox News displayed the chyron “Trump: QAnon People ‘love our country'” without any additional context.
Before and after Trump’s press conference, Fox’s “straight news” anchors failed to contextualize that QAnon has been linked to violence and identified as a potential terror threat by the FBI.
- On August 11, Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier mentioned QAnon candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene who was contesting a runoff primary in Georgia, calling her a “construction executive,” saying “She has faced criticism for repeating the so-called QAnon conspiracy theory.” Baier failed to contextualize the movement’s connections to violence or the FBI’s label of it as a potential terror threat.
- Baier described QAnon following Trump’s press conference on August 19 without mentioning FBI’s terrorism warning and its links to violence.
- In the early hours of August 20, a package report on Trump’s press conference described QAnon as “controversial” with no additional context. After the package’s conclusion, Fox News @ Night anchor Shannon Bream remarked, “It was a rather entertaining briefing today on a number of levels.
- During the 12 AM hour on August 21, Shannon Bream asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy if he was “worried” about Republican candidates who have been “painted as extreme” because of their racism, anti-Semitism, and connections to a violent conspiracy cult. McCarthy said, “There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party,” then made false equivalences about Democrats, which Bream did not challenge.
Update (1/26/21): This post has been updated with additional examples.