Fox News Shows No Signs of Stopping Its Use of Violent Imagery

Fox's latest fearmongering image placed crosshairs over people at a school board meeting.

On Thursday morning, Fox News superimposed images of gun sights over video footage of people attending a school board meeting as a voiceover said, "Republicans grilling Attorney General Merrick Garland over targeting parents." Continuing its use of violent imagery in pushing a conservative agenda, the network attacked Garland over moves by the Justice Department to investigate actions and threats of violence against school board members.

The network is also set to air a special sympathetic to the extremist supporters of Donald Trump who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The promo that used the crosshair images referred to Garland's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The conservative network has falsely accused Garland of attempting to silence conservatives after the Department of Justice released a memo on Oct. 4 noting it would be investigating threats to school officials.

Republicans in Congress have echoed Fox's false characterization of the document, which was prompted by a letter sent to President Joe Biden by the National School Boards Association that read in part:

NSBA believes immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety. ... As these threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent – during public school board meetings, via documented threats transmitted through the U.S. Postal Service, through social media and other online platforms, and around personal properties – NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats.

School officials have been targeted for harassment by conservatives in retaliation for policies supporting the use of face masks in schools to slow the spread of COVID-19 and for curricula that include anti-racism education.

Fox has played a leading role in amplifying confrontations at local school boards over these issues.

The network has repeatedly played up issues under discussion at meetings of the board of Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, which has become a target of conservatives.

On Wednesday, the network promoted the candidacy of Michael Rivera, who is running for the Loudoun County school board and who, in an earlier appearance at a GOP event, told a group of conservative activists that the government had become oppressive and that "we have guns for a reason."

Fox has come under fire from even Republican politicians for using the airwaves to promote violent imagery and excuse right-wing violence.

Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson has begun promoting an upcoming special titled "Patriot Purge," posting a promotional video for the show suggesting that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters was a "false flag" attack. The video also accused liberals of engaging in a "domestic war" against conservatives.

Carlson had already used his show in June to spread the false claim that the FBI "organized" the attack. The allegation was promoted by Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

The day after the attack, on Jan. 7, Fox host Steve Doocy said the rioters were merely "frustrated" by the outcome of the election and argued, "Of the people who gathered yesterday, 99% of them were peaceful."

In August, responding to Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Carlson said, "When leaders refuse to hold themselves accountable over time, people revolt. That happens."

At the same time as it uses images that evoke violence in its coverage and excuses actual violence on the part of supporters of Trump and the GOP, the network continues its practice of smearing those who protest police brutality against Black people as violent criminals.

In August 2020, as anti-racist protesters took the streets in cities across the country, Carlson told his audience, "Violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood."

The comment accompanied months of Fox repeatedly accompanying its coverage of protests against police brutality and systemic racism with violent imagery, some of which was old and unrelated to the current events.

The network at the same time downplayed concerns about violent white supremacists. In November 2020, Carlson argued that it was "demonstrably insane" for Democrats to warn about violence from white supremacists. Earlier, in September of that year, host Greg Gutfeld responded to a statement about violence carried out by "those right-wing militia types and the Proud Boys and the Boogaloos" with, "Such a lie. That is — that is too easily disprovable! God help us."

Members of those groups were later implicated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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