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The Fox News Specialists

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  • Right-wing media are filling a void of abortion-related coverage with misinformation

    Fox News is dominating the conversation about abortion on evening cable news -- and the network is doing it all wrong

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that Fox News dominated discussions of abortion and reproductive rights and that the network was wrong about four common abortion-related topics 77 percent of the time.

  • Cable news networks forgot Trump sexually assaulted women, until the Harvey Weinstein stories broke

    Evening programming on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC all devoted much more time to the allegations against Trump after The New York Times reported on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    By and large, 2017 was a year of reckoning for men who have sexually harassed and assaulted women. But 2017 was also the year evening programming on cable news forgot about the women who said President Donald Trump sexually assaulted them.

    Over the past year, we’ve seen powerful men lose their jobs and reputations after women and men came forward telling their stories of harassment and assault. One man whose reckoning has yet to come, however, is the president of the United States. By October 2016, at least 20 women had said then-candidate Trump engaged in sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. The accusations largely came after a video clip emerged of Trump admitting to sexual assault in 2005.

    A Media Matters analysis found that the stories these women told about Trump’s alleged -- and admitted -- sexual misconduct were largely forgotten by evening cable news hosts and guests in 2017, especially on Fox News. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of coverage came only after The New York Times initially reported on Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault, which precipitated a wave of coverage about dozens of men who now stand credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

    This study found:

    Fox News spent less than 40 minutes on Trump's sexual misconduct in 2017

    Between January 1 and December 15, 2017, evening Fox News programs spent a total of 37 minutes and 21 seconds on the women who said Trump assaulted or harassed them.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    In contrast, CNN spent 2 hours, 53 minutes, and 22 seconds on the allegations, while MSNBC spent 2 hours and 16 minutes discussing them.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    While many shows ignored and minimized the allegations against Trump, some of his most ardent defenders on Fox faced them head-on to merely dismiss them out of hand.

    On the December 13 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham attempted to discredit the allegations against Trump, asking, “If someone accused of you something from 20 years ago and you denied it ... would it be fair for people to say, God, he’s accused?"

    And on the November 16 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity alleged that the women who spoke out against Trump said they were “taken out of context purposely by The New York Times.”

    Most of the discussions of Trump's sexual misconduct took place after reporting about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault

    The vast majority of the reporting on the accusations made against Trump on evening cable news took place after The New York Times reported on October 5 about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault. The so-called “Harvey effect” spurred women to come forward to discuss their experiences of sexual violence. In turn, the reporting on Weinstein also appeared to create an opening for cable news to bring up the allegations made against the president. In the nine months before The New York Times reported on Weinstein, evening cable news spent less than an hour discussing the allegations made against Trump. However, in about 2 1/2 months after the Times reported on Weinstein, evening cable news devoted nearly five hours to reporting on the accusations against Trump.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    For many survivors across the country, it’s nearly impossible to forget that 20 women have reported sexual harassment and assault committed by our president, who has admitted to such behavior. Cable news shouldn’t forget about it, either.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis for mentions of “Trump” within 50 words of all permutations of “assault,” “rape,” “harass,” “grope,” “grab,” “sexual,” or “allege” that took place on evening ( 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.) programs on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News between January 1 and December 15, 2017. For inclusion in this study, segments had to feature a significant discussion of the allegations made against Trump.

    We defined a “significant discussion” as one of the following:

    • a segment where the allegations against Trump were the stated topic of discussion;

    • a segment in which two or more speakers discussed the allegations; or

    • a host monologue during which the allegations were the stated topic of discussion.

    Qualifying segments were then timed using iQ media. Repeated segments were not counted. Teasers for upcoming segments were also not counted.

    * Due to substantial reorganization of Fox News’ programming during the study period, programs that were either added or removed from the network during the study period are marked with an asterisk.

  • Fox News fires Eric Bolling over sexual harassment reports

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News has fired Eric Bolling a month after news broke that he reportedly sent unsolicited explicit pictures of himself to multiple female colleagues. The network has also canceled The Fox News Specialists but “intends to keep Bolling’s co-hosts, Eboni Williams and Kat Timpf, as contributors,” Variety reported on September 8.

    Fox suspended Bolling in August after he was reported for the harassment by multiple women in a HuffPost article. The same day, another woman came forward reporting him for sexual harassment. Bolling sued the reporter who broke the story for $50 million in an attempt to “intimidate” him, explained the reporter. According to Variety, the network has also reinstated Fox Business host Charles Payne, who was also suspended following reports of sexual harassment. The Bolling and Payne examples are just the latest in a string of reports about a culture of predatory workplace harassment at Fox News.

    From the Variety article:

    Fox News Channel will part ways with host Eric Bolling, a host and contributor whose on-air presence at the 21st Century Fox-owned network had been growing in recent months, after allegations surfaced that he had harassed colleagues there, the network confirmed Friday.

    “Fox News Channel is canceling ‘The Specialists,’ and Eric Bolling and Fox have agreed to part ways amicably,” the network said in a statement.” We thank Eric for his ten years of service to our loyal viewers and wish him the best of luck.” A Huffington Post report had disclosed allegations that Bolling had sent lewd messages to colleagues via smartphone.

    Bolling, a former commodities trader and best-selling author, had been a longtime co-host of “The Five,” and more recently helped launch a new late-afternoon show, “The Fox News Specialists.” He also anchors the Fox News program “Cashin’ In.” Fox News intends to keep Bolling’s co-hosts, Eboni Williams and Kat Timpf, as contributors. The show will be replaced at 5 p.m. eastern with an hour of news coverage for the foreseeable future, with rotating anchors holding down the slot.

    The allegations against Bolling were among the latest personnel issues to roil the network that broadcasts such popular shows as “Hannity” and “Fox & Friends.” The parent company, 21st Century Fox, is working to acquire the rest of European broadcaster Sky PLC that it does not already own. Attorneys for several employees who have sued Fox News and activists have used the accusations to suggest British regulators not approve the proposed transaction, which remains under government review.

    During his time as a host on Fox News, Bolling was a major Trump sycophant who consistently expressed racist, xenophobic, and misogynist views. He had to apologize for asking on-air whether the first female UAE pilot who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists “would be considered boobs on the ground.” Bolling also once claimed Obama was "chugging a few 40’s" and said Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) should “step away from the crack pipe.”

  • STUDY: ABC and NBC drop the ball on covering the impact of climate change on hurricanes

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    A Media Matters analysis of Hurricane Harvey broadcast coverage from August 23 to September 7 found that neither ABC nor NBC aired a single segment on their morning, evening, or Sunday news shows that mentioned the link between climate change and hurricanes like Harvey, while CBS and PBS NewsHour each aired three. A review of prime-time coverage of Harvey on the three major cable news networks found that Fox aired six segments that mentioned climate change, but most of them dismissed the link between climate change and hurricanes, while CNN and MSNBC each aired five segments that legitimately discussed the link.

  • For months, pundits have called Trump a populist, but his policies have been about giveaways to the rich

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Several media outlets are suggesting that President Donald Trump’s August 30 speech calling for tax reform was a “populist pitch,” and dozens of media figures and outlets have been calling the president a “populist” since his inauguration. A closer examination of Trump’s policies, however, show a pattern of decisions that will create devastating impacts on Americans, particularly low-income residents, while providing handouts to corporations and the wealthiest citizens.

  • As the nation reels from Trump’s embrace of neo-Nazis, Fox News invites racist, anti-Semite Ted Nugent on for full hour

    Nugent in 2012: "I'm beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News’ The Specialists included racist Ted Nugent on its panel for the full hour one day after President Donald Trump praised the “very fine people” participating in a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA, that resulted in the murder of a woman protesting the racism and bigotry espoused by the white supremacists.

    Nugent was introduced as a “rock and roll legend” who specializes in “planting trees.” The hosts neglected to mention Nugent’s history of racism and gave him the forum to spout white supremacist talking points and give cover to the Nazis who murdered a woman by claiming “all sides” instigated violence at the rally:

    Fox News’ decision to book Nugent should embarrass everyone at the network given his history of racist comments. In January 2014, Nugent referred to Barack Obama as a “subhuman mongrel,” a slur he said before, referring to African-American rappers as “big uneducated greasy black mongrels.” In 2013, Nugent appeared with conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones, and said African-Americans could solve “the black problem” if they put their “heart and soul into being honest, [and] law-abiding.” In 2013, Nugent defended George Zimmerman's shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin by claiming Martin showed “the same mindless tendency to violence we see in black communities across America.” In 2012, Nugent wrote in The Washington Times that he was “beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

  • STUDY: Voting rights coverage was dominated by Trump's lies and ignored systemic problems

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs and broadcast morning shows and nightly newscasts found that discussions of voting rights and issues related to voting featured misinformation pushed by Republican lawmakers and were dominated by President Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud and noncitizen voting. Additionally, coverage also lacked discussions of gerrymandering, the impact of voter suppression on the 2016 election, and laws on the state level to curb voting rights.

  • Prime-time cable programs ignored the voices of activists in their health care coverage

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During last week’s health care “vote-a-rama,” prime-time cable news coverage largely neglected the voices of activists, despite their crucial role in helping to block Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    Media Matters reviewed four nights of cable news coverage -- from 5 to 11 p.m. -- between when the “motion to proceed” was passed (which opened debate on possible plans to overturn the ACA) and the GOP “skinny repeal” bill was defeated in the Senate. During those four nights of coverage, cable news programs largely failed to include the perspectives of activists, and both CNN and Fox News disregarded these voices altogether:

    • CNN and Fox News did not host a single activist over four nights of health care coverage

    • MSNBC hosted five activists during the same time period, but they accounted for less than 10 percent of its prime-time guests included in discussions about health care.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Cable news coverage of health care has consistently disregarded diverse voices in favor of pundits

    Throughout Republican efforts to overturn the ACA, cable news repeatedly failed to offer diverse voices. Guests in conversations about health care were predominately white male pundits, while African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and women -- all of whom stand to lose disproportionately if the ACA is overturned -- received far less screen time.

    Additionally, cable news programs often ignored the personal stories of those that would be most affected by Republican health care policies, choosing to focus on the legislative process, at the expense of the human cost of the GOP’s repeated actions to undo the ACA. As Senate Republicans searched for a way to overturn former President Barack Obama’s signature health care act last week, cable coverage continued to erase the voices of those most intimately involved in the health care debate. CNN and Fox News failed to include a single activist amongst the combined 97 guest appearances on the channels during discussions of health care, and while MSNBC did host five activists, they made up less than 10 percent of the network's total guests hosted during prime-time to discuss health care.  

    Activists played a pivotal role in saving the ACA

    While this isn't the first time cable news failed to seek out the voices of activists, their disregard for activists' voices is shocking considering the influential role they have played throughout the health care battle. Employees and volunteers for organizations like MoveOn, ADAPT, and Planned Parenthood organized health care rallies across the country, and helped organize tens of thousands of calls to House and Senate offices on behalf of the ACA. Activists also kept constant pressure on elected officials, staging all-night protests in lawmakers' offices, and showing up to elected officials’ town hall meetings and other public appearances. Activists played a crucial role in pressuring Senators to vote no on repeal and replace bills, and in keeping public attention on health care in midst of numerous distractions, like the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Activists deserve credit for their role in the health care battle, and comprehensive news coverage needs to include their voices.

    Methodology 

    Media Matters searched Nexis for mentions of “health care,” “the Affordable Care Act,” “Obamacare,” “Republican health,” “GOP health,” “the Better Care Reconciliation Act,” or “BRCA” on prime-time cable news between July 25 (after the Senate passed the motion to proceed to debate) and July 28 (after the failure of “skinny repeal”). Segments were coded if they included a significant discussion of the Republican health care bill. “Significant discussion” was defined as at least two speakers in the segment engaging on the topic with one another. Guests that partook in discussions that included a “significant discussion” about health care were included in this study. Guests were considered “activists” if they were affiliated with a group actively working against GOP efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. 

    Prime-time cable news refers to CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC weekday programming between 5 and 11 p.m.