The opinion and “news” sides of Fox News are supposed to be separate, at least according to industry standards and what executives at the network are telling worried advertisers. But among the many problems with Fox News’ defense is the continued repetition of anti-abortion misinformation by both Fox News @ Night anchor Shannon Bream and the guests of her show.
When the show launched in 2017, Bream said in an interview that the program would be “all straight news, not opinion.” She’s failed to live up to her own standards. Bream and the guests on her program regularly push the sort of anti-abortion misinformation more frequently used by opinion hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.
Here are recent examples of Fox News @ Night undermining the network’s claim that it has separate “news” and opinion programming -- especially when it comes to abortion:
Fox News claims Fox News @ Night is a “straight” news program, yet Bream regularly hosts guests who promote anti-abortion misinformation and outright lies.
On the October 28 airing of Fox News @ Night, Bream hosted conservative pastor and Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress and allowed him to promote right-wing misinformation about Planned Parenthood without pushback. During the segment, Jeffress declared that Democrats should not call out racism because Planned Parenthood’s founder was allegedly “racist.” This falsehood is often repeated on Fox News opinion programming -- and right-wing media more broadly — even though it has been debunked.
Bream also hosted Jeffress on October 17, allowing him to push a right-wing media talking point that Democrats are extreme for supporting abortion access by couching abortion as “murder” of “children … in the womb.” Later in the segment, Bream repeated right-wing rhetoric about abortions happening later in pregnancy when she stated that she has asked members of Congress whether they support a “late-term” abortion ban. The phrase “late-term” abortion is not medically accurate, and furthermore, abortions performed later in pregnancy are rare and often undertaken out of medical necessity or due to barriers prohibiting access to earlier care.
During the September 18 edition of Fox News @ Night, Bream allowed Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to amplify the right-wing falsehood that Planned Parenthood can easily be replaced by “community health centers.” Bream did not refute this claim, instead letting Blackburn promote inaccurate information about the impact of Planned Parenthood losing federal family planning dollars.
In other instances, Bream herself obscures the divide between “news” and opinion by reiterating anti-abortion misinformation.
Along with enabling guests to spread anti-abortion misinformation, Bream repeats right-wing talking points herself. For example, during the October 29 airing of Fox News @ Night, Bream asked Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer a question framed around inaccurate right-wing tropes about abortion access in the Black community.
During a September 9 episode, Bream repeatedly amplified anti-abortion misinformation by alleging that Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg suggested “late-term abortion may be acceptable under biblical guidelines.” This talking point had been popular among other right-wing media outlets leading up to the airing of Bream’s show. By repeating these talking points, Bream utilized the same sensationalized rhetoric employed by her opinion counterparts.
During an October 14 broadcast, Bream again asked questions framed around right-wing misinformation about abortion funding. Bream asked her guests if “tax dollars” would be used to provide “so-called abortion pills” on college campuses -- repeating a common right-wing argument about taxpayer funds being illicitly used to support abortion care. Fox contributor Doug Schoen repeated this misinformation, with Schoen claiming taxpayer dollars would supply abortion pills at “every public college,” without pushback from Bream. Suggesting that taxpayers fund abortion is an inaccurate allegation, as the Hyde Amendment forbids the use of federal funds to support abortion services.
During the November 7 broadcast, Bream returned to amplifying anti-abortion misinformation by framing emails from Planned Parenthood to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam about later abortion as “talking points” as opposed to factual information. In the segment, Bream showed emails in which Planned Parenthood debunked a right-wing media falsehood about Northam allegedly supporting abortion “until the moment of birth.” This framing has been adopted by Bream's Fox News opinion counterparts, even though no such procedure exists or is performed. Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress (once again being hosted by Bream) was allowed to reiterate right-wing misinformation on Planned Parenthood during the segment without pushback, claiming that Planned Parenthood “provides campaign contributions” to Democrats. Jeffress intentionally conflated Planned Parenthood the nonprofit health provider with its independent political arm, Planned Parenthood Votes.
While Bream may style herself and some of her colleagues as “straight news” hosts, her continued amplification of anti-abortion misinformation reaffirms that there is no difference between Fox News’ “news’ and opinion programs.