Fox News outraged social conservatives last week by airing a sympathetic news report on a transgender teenager and his Christian family.
Some on the right are worried that Fox News is becoming too receptive to the ideology it’s supposed to stand against.
The segment, which aired Friday in celebration of Pride Month, depicted Ryland Whittington and his supportive family members’ life in suburban Southern California as wholesome, idyllic and typically American.
Weirdly, a great trans story on Fox News of all places (though obviously it could just be bait for their viewers) . Best wishes to Ryland and his family ❤️🏳️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/nHtpbhY0tr
— India Willoughby (@IndiaWilloughby) June 11, 2022
According to Ryland’s parents, the now 14-year-old teen communicated his trans identity to them “before [he] could even speak” and “came out” at the age of five.
- In 2016, Hillary Whittington, Ryland’s mother, published a book about her experiences parenting a transgender son.
- Citing her Christian faith, Whittington told Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas during the segment that God “created Ryland just the way he is.”
- “What extraordinary courage displayed by Ryland, his sister, Brinley, father, Jeff and mom, Hillary,” Llenas said, adding that he lamented the politicization of transgender issues.
THE FIGHT ON THE RIGHT
Daily Wire contributor Matt Walsh was among the prominent conservative pundits leading a widespread social media backlash to the “segment” Friday afternoon.
On his podcast show Monday, Walsh condemned Fox News’ coverage as “deranged, dangerous insanity.”
- Walsh also called for the firings of the Fox News staffers involved in producing the “America’s Newsroom” segment, saying it was “so far to the left I would have been surprised to see it on CNN or MSNBC.”
- In an opinion essay published Sunday, The Federalist editor Kylee Zempel summed up the sentiments of many on the right befuddled by the coverage.
- “Fox News, along with a few online conservative publications, was one of the few remaining places normal Americans, abandoned and despised by every other institution, could count on to give it to them straight. Fox was a network conservatives could trust to give them cultural courage: To say, no, violent riots are not peaceful protests; yes, critical race theory has infiltrated classrooms; no, boys are not girls and girls are not boys. But on Friday, viewers were betrayed,” Zempel wrote.
“Fox is gone. Fox is dead. Fox is no longer a conservative news channel,” Newsmax host Sebastian Gorka, a former Fox News contributor, said Monday during an appearance on Newsmax’s “Stinchfield.”
While Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes founded Fox News as an alternative to liberal mainstream media, it’s not the first time conservatives have accused the network of going soft.
- In April, Fox faced backlash from social conservative viewers after announcing the hiring of transgender Olympian and failed California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner.
- A wave of Donald Trump supporters turned on the network in November 2020, claiming Fox wasn’t bullish enough in backing the former president’s unproven claims of a stolen election.
- A March 2021 survey conducted by Fabrizio, Lee and Associates found that Fox News was losing viewers to Newsmax and One America News Network, conservative media upstarts that positioned themselves as more hardline alternatives to Fox.