Biden, meanwhile, has appeared at multiple public events since Memorial Day.
Fox News has repeatedly claimed that Vice President Joe Biden is "hiding" in his basement as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. Time after time, Donald Trump and his reelection campaign have echoed the same untrue story.
Biden has in fact been following state and federal safety guidelines and recommendations by limiting contact with others to limit transmission of the virus that has killed over 170,000 Americans. He has also made numerous public appearances and speeches during the time Fox and Trump claimed he was "hiding."
Despite this, according to Media Matters for America, between June 8 and Aug. 7, Fox News pushed or refused to contradict the falsehood that Biden was hiding in his basement at least 322 times.
The claim was made across multiple shows on the network, throughout the day. The network aired claims from both its own hosts, anchors, reporters, and pundits, as well as from guests appearing on Fox News' various programs.
"Fox & Friends," the network’s morning news show, made the false claim 47 times in that period.
"America's Newsroom," Fox News' midday program that it has claimed is a source of straight news reporting and not opinion, nonetheless pushed the false storyline 33 times.
The story was also frequently mentioned in Fox's prime time lineup. "Hannity," "The Ingraham Angle," and "Tucker Carlson Carlson Tonight" promoted the claim a total of 63 times.
Fox News hosts who've repeated the talking point include Sean Hannity, who has been described as Trump's "shadow chief of staff" and leads the pack, referencing the story 26 times, as well as Jesse Watters (19 times), Pete Hegseth (15 times), Brian Kilmeade (12 times), Steve Doocy (6 times), Jeanine Pirro (6 times), and Laura Ingraham (5 times).
RNC chair Ronna McDaniel appeared on Fox to advance the narrative 10 times, which dovetailed with official party statements and videos.
Fox News pundits like Newt Gingrich (6 times), Jason Chaffetz (7 times), and Geraldo Rivera (4 times) were also part of the network’s anti-Biden chorus.
Anchors and reporters described by Fox News as "straight news" figures similarly promoted the Republican Party talking point, including Harris Faulkner (7 times), Sandra Smith (6 times), Trace Gallagher (5 times), and "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace (7 times).
Biden began self-isolating in mid-March, after announcing that he would cancel planned campaign events in response to guidelines from officials in Delaware (where Biden lives) and federal health agencies on limiting the spread of the virus.
But since Memorial Day, Biden has repeatedly appeared in public even as the Trump campaign and Fox News insisted he was "hiding." Biden has worn a protective face mask during his appearances, while Trump and his team attacked him for doing so.
On Memorial Day, May 25, Biden and his wife, Jill, visited the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park to pay their respects.
On June 1, Biden went to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and spoke with church leaders about the George Floyd protests. The next day, Biden went to Philadelphia City Hall and made a speech on civil unrest and the protests.
On June 5, Biden gave a speech at Delaware State University.
On June 11, Biden held a roundtable discussion in Philadelphia about reopening the economy and the pandemic.
Biden spoke about health care in a speech in Wilmington on June 30.
The day after Biden’s twin appearances, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nonetheless referred to "Basement Biden" in a Facebook post.
Despite all these appearances, Trump, his presidential campaign, and the Republican Party have joined with Fox News in claiming that Biden is "hiding" from the public in his basement.
On June 11, the same day Biden held his roundtable in Philadelphia, Trump tweeted that Biden "refuses to leave his basement."
On July 20, a Trump campaign spokesperson praised Trump for "rallying in Tulsa with thousands of energetic supporters" which he called a "stark contrast to the sleepy campaign being run by Joe Biden from his basement in Delaware."
Conservative pundit and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain attended the Tulsa rally and later died due to complications from COVID-19.
On Aug. 2, Trump tweeted that Biden "never leaves his basement," despite considerable evidence to the contrary. Two days later, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused Biden of "hiding in a basement."
RNC chair McDaniel piled on, claiming that Biden was making "gaffes from his basement." The comment was made on Fox Business, Fox News' sister network.
The next day, Aug. 5, the Trump campaign released an ad alleging Biden was in his "basement." It was quickly revealed that in two of the ad's depictions of Biden purportedly in a "basement," he was outside.
Once again, on Aug. 9, Trump's rapid response director Abigail Marone tweeted that Biden "has to stay in the basement."
After Trump canceled Republican Convention plans, which he changed because the governor of North Carolina would not ignore virus safety regulations for him, on Aug. 10, McDaniel said that "if Joe Biden can live in his basement," Trump could accept the party nomination at "his house," the White House.
As recently as Tuesday, Aug. 11, McEnany described Biden as "the man who thinks he can win a presidential campaign from his basement."
Less than 24 hours after McEnany's comment, Biden held his first public event with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), his running mate.
The event was not held in a basement.
It is often hard to tell where Trump and his campaign end and Fox News begins. The shared message on Biden and his basement is just the latest example.
Fox hosts are close to Trump and often what appears on air ends up in Trump's speeches and talking points.
Fox host Pete Hegseth, who Trump once reportedly considered for an administration position, pushed for businesses to reopen in May despite the virus, while at the same time Trump was publicly pressuring Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on the same topic.
In July, as the Trump campaign falsely claimed Biden called police "the enemy" in campaign materials, Trump appeared for a friendly interview with Hannity. Hannity repeated the campaign’s characterization of Biden's remarks in a question to Trump, who used the opportunity to bash Biden. They were in perfect synchronization.
Trump began his transition from a reality TV personality to a political figure by being featured as a regular commentator on Fox News, specifically on "Fox & Friends."
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump gave voice to many Fox News obsessions, including the demonization of Mexican immigrants and his push for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
In the White House, Trump has frequently used Fox News as the basis for policy decisions like his response to the pandemic and his decision to send federal law enforcement into Portland, Oregon. Trump claimed that the protests were "out of control" based on Fox footage, even as local officials like Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said intervention was unnecessary.
Trump's recent decision to push a rule that would allow renewed discrimination in housing "shows that he's been heavily influenced by the demagoguery of right-wing media personalities, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson," Media Matters senior fellow Matthew Gertz noted.
Trump praises Fox News constantly, often telling his millions of followers to tune in to specific programs, particularly those of his biggest supporters like Pirro. Trump also makes sure to tell followers to watch his interviews with Fox personalities like Hannity.
Trump makes hiring decisions for positions in the federal government from within Fox News' ranks. In total, 20 administration officials have come from the network since 2017.
Among those figures are former national security adviser John Bolton, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, and Mercedes Schlapp, who served previously as the White House director of strategic communications and is now a part of Trump’s reelection campaign.
Neither the Trump campaign nor the White House responded to a request for comment on this story.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.