What Do Fox News Viewers Think About the Network’s Controversial Coverage of the 2020 Election?

A billboard in New York City displays the faces of Fox News hosts

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“This doesn’t affect me. All of the networks fabricate things.”

Fox News is currently getting waves of bad press in just about every media outlet that isn’t called Fox News, but whether that’s having any effect on its most loyal viewers is up for debate.

There’s been plenty of outrage to go around about how the network handled Donald Trump’s allegations that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. These claims have been proven to be false (which even a former Trump lawyer has publicly copped to), but that didn’t stop Fox anchors from parroting the 45th president’s rhetoric on the air. Chairman Rupert Murdoch admitted as much under oath recently, when he said hosts including Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, and Maria Bartiromo “endorsed” Trump’s false narrative.

“I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” Murdoch said when questioned about the $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems, which is claiming the network knowingly broadcast false information about the security of its hardware and software. When he was asked if he personally doubted Trump’s claims about election fraud, Murdoch responded, “Yes. I mean, we thought everything was on the up-and-up.”

Murdoch disputed the assertion that the entire Fox network had collectively supported Trump’s inaccurate statements, but evidence has piled up that prominent figures were well aware that their on-air messaging didn’t match reality. That includes Tucker Carlson saying that Trump associate Sidney Powell was “lying” about election fraud, Laura Ingraham calling Powell “a complete nut” (and adding that this statement applied “ditto” to Rudy Giuliani), and Sean Hannity privately saying he “did not believe it for one second” while publicly telling his viewers it was “impossible” to know what the results of the 2020 election truly were.

The drama goes on and on — Tucker Carlson’s recent controversial coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection, which he has framed as a “peaceful” gathering, is another complicated thread — but all of this information in aggregate has led to much consternation, including from many who say the network should be fined or punished for delivering content it knew to be untrue. Whether that’s realistic remains to be seen, but it leaves us with a crucial question: What do Fox’s diehard viewers think about all this?

Many commentators have pointed out Fox’s outsize influence on who rises to power in the Republican Party, and the network has a knack for hanging onto its audience. Even though a 2022 YouGov poll found that Americans consider Fox News to be the second-least trustworthy media outlet in the country (only Breitbart rated worse), cable news ratings for February 2023 show Fox maintaining quite the healthy lead as the most-viewed network. (On the flip side, it’s worth pointing out that CNN, which fared only slightly better than Fox in that same poll about trustworthiness, just had its lowest-rated month of programming in a decade.)

It’s easy to paint this picture with very broad strokes, so we were curious about how individual Fox News viewers feel about what’s been going on. We asked the Fox fans among our social media followers and the subscribers of our daily newsletter Wake-Up Call to share their takes about how these revelations affect (or not) their impressions of the network. The responses include some minds that have been forever changed, while others say they have no reason to doubt Fox — or, if they do, they feel it’s no different than partisan reporting on channels like CNN or MSNBC. Without further ado, here’s a look at what they told us.

“I am a conservative, and I completely stopped watching Fox News because of their coverage and handling of the ‘big lie.’ A slight bias in news reporting is understandable and expected, but that coverage was inexcusable. Shame on them, they lost this viewer.” – Janet

“I’ll continue to watch certain programming on Fox. There’s a reason they are number 1. Their reporting seems to be fair, and much of it is not shown on CNN or MSNBC. Fox has videos to back them up that are not being aired on other stations — they would make liberal heads explode. How about conservatives who watch the other stations and listened to three years about a false Russian hoax? They are clearly not reporting on the disaster at the border, either. The current administration is destructive on numerous levels.” – Leigh

“This is no different than CNN and other liberal stations. Every single network is promoting what they want to be the news. Fox is guilty, as are CNN, MSNBC, and others. Sooner or later, no one is going to believe a thing that they read or hear. So sad.” – Virginia

“This doesn’t affect my view of Fox. I enjoy several of their shows. Bret Baier is one of the few good journalists left. He reports news and doesn’t try to persuade or show his views. Journalists today are promoting their own opinions instead of just trying to understand the actual news. We need to get past the division in America.” – Cindy

“We watch both CNN and Fox in our home, and we believe the truth lies somewhere in between.” – Sharon

“I have not watched Fox News since January 2021 because of the obvious manipulation of the facts as the Jan. 6 insurrection took place.” – Valinda

“When Fox News continued to say the election was stolen, I was in disbelief. Their organization is an opinion mouthpiece, not a news outlet, and I refuse to watch their ‘news’ programs anymore. I used to consider myself a conservative Republican, but now I want nothing to do with them. The polarized, partisan politics are tiresome, and the intolerance of some is detestable.” – Jeannine

“This doesn’t affect me. All of the networks fabricate things. Fox is so much more interesting than CNN or MSNBC.” – Susan

“I am a Republican and a conservative, but I quit Fox News years ago because of the hateful attitudes of the anchors. I love Greta Van Susteren. She was direct without condescension. I really just want facts. I can decide for myself. Let the election stuff go. Let’s solve problems.” – Tammy

“I can tell you my husband, who is a Fox viewer, doesn’t seem to care. His reaction to the news — which incidentally, he didn’t know, because he watches Fox, and they didn’t even broadcast it — was surprise. But he quickly said, ‘Well now they’re just like MSNBC and CNN, who lie every day.’ I’m a Democrat, and we don’t discuss politics because we would just scream at each other and it wouldn’t change a thing. Life is tough.” – Jenny

“I think Fox is right on the mark. They present both points of view and don’t rush to conclusions. Other news outlets can’t wait to scream ‘It’s Trump’s fault’ — in other words, they are politically one-sided and do not give a fair presentation of the facts.” – Barbie

“I used to always include Fox News in my daily news intake. Since the pandemic, and specifically, the admission of the lying and the spreading of misinformation, I have deleted my Fox News app and no longer view them as a credible news source.” – Bob

“All news channels are biased. If you’re a Democrat, you tend to watch CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC. They tend to be liberal and support the liberal agenda. If you are Republican, like me, you tend to watch Fox. I was disappointed that Fox kept up the lie of a stolen election — however, it is no different than the others supporting their fake agenda, like the alleged connection between Trump and Russia. We don’t have a news station that is not biased with reporting. Even PBS, which tries more than the others to give ‘both sides,’ has a liberal leaning. The best we can do is watch the news and know we are being entertained not given honest reporting. Sad, but true!” – Dianne

“I love Fox News, but I am with Liz Cheney. The election was not stolen!” – Mary

“Tucker Carlson is the brightest cable news reporter on television. His breakdown each night of current issues is almost always correct and entails some pretty amazing observations on his part that most Americans don’t even think about. I’m disappointed that he would report fake news on his program, and I hope he can speak to this accusation and clear up any part he may have played. But CNN and others consistently report lies.” – Cynthia

“I have stopped watching Fox News because of the way the news is being broadcasted. I felt as if it was very biased towards the Republican Party and that President Trump could do no wrong.” – Dolores

“I believe one of the worst things to come out of this is the idea that there are no consequences to being dishonest. Journalists are supposed to report facts, not whatever they feel like the facts should be. The lack of integrity is tarnishing the entire industry.” – Gina