Fox News devoted much of its airtime prior to last week’s midterm elections to violent crime, usually by tying criminal violence to “Democratic cities” and progressive policies.
The conservative cable giant, however, has pulled back on much of that coverage in the immediate aftermath of the GOP’s lackluster election performance, which did not result in the “red tsunami” many on the network had promised.
According to a study by liberal watchdog Media Matters, the network has devoted roughly half of its on-air segments to violent crime compared to the pre-election period.
Between Labor Day and the week before the midterms, Fox News averaged 141 weekday violent crime segments per week, per Media Matters’ research. The week of the election, though, the number of segments on criminal violence plummeted to 71—a decrease of 50 percent compared to post-Labor Day period.
In a week-to-week comparison, the drop is even more stark. The midterm week was down 63 percent from the week prior, which featured 193 violent crime segments on the network.
Fox News’ violent crime coverage has ticked up slightly this week, largely due to stories on the stabbing deaths at the University of Idaho and the deadly shootings at the University of Virginia. At the same time, however, Fox has notably not framed these tragedies around liberal policies in crime-ridden Democratic cities.
After a summer that featured Democratic legislative victories and restrictive abortion laws energizing progressive voters, Fox News star Tucker Carlson seemingly kicked off the network’s strategy of using violent crime to bludgeon Democrats during the midterms.
“If every Republican office-seeker, every Republican candidate in the United States focused on law and order and equality under the law, there would be a red wave,” Carlson declared on the Aug. 19 broadcast of his top-rated primetime show.
In the weeks that followed, GOP campaigns appeared to heed Carlson’s advice—devoting much of their advertising spending on crime and making it the Republicans’ central message in the closing months. And the network ramped up its violent crime coverage as the elections approached, airing a total of 380 weekday segments in the two weeks before the midterms.
This synergistic approach is nothing new, of course. Back in 2014, Fox News and the GOP fearmongered that Democrats were putting the nation at risk over the Ebola virus, only to drop the issue after the midterms. The same thing occurred again in 2018 when the network went all-in on stoking fears about the Central American migrants planning “to storm our border,” and then lost interest following the November elections.