Fox News has framed efforts to educate young students about racism as 'critical race theory' and spent months encouraging conservative activists to protest it.
Fox News on Monday heaped criticism on a school board's decision to withdraw a biography of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. But for months Fox has been a major part of the conservative attack on anti-racism education in schools that has led to such decisions.
"Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade, in a segment entitled, "Trouble with Schools," spoke to author Brad Meltzer about the decision made by the school board in Central York, Pennsylvania, to remove his book "I Am Rosa Parks" and other material dealing with race from its curriculum.
"Can you imagine any school district that doesn't want to learn about Rosa Parks?" asked Kilmeade, later describing the story of the civil rights leader as "indispensable" and the school board's decisions to pull the book as "illogical."
But the school board's decision to withdraw the book from its curriculum is an outgrowth of a right-wing crusade against anti-racism education that Fox has championed for months. The network has done dozens of stories attacking lessons about racism in schools, characterizing them as harmful "critical race theory" while claiming the theory promotes the belief that one race is "inherently superior to another," as anchor Harris Faulkner claimed on May 12.
York County parents parroted Fox News' false claims while backing the school board's decision on "I Am Rosa Parks" and other books, most of which were written by authors of color.
"The community is 100% against a critical race theory indoctrination agenda," one parent said in a school board meeting on Sept. 13, as reported by CNN.
Another parent told CNN, "I don't want my daughter growing up feeling guilty because she's white."
Fox has repeatedly promoted efforts by conservative activists who have organized protests against school boards for purportedly promoting "critical race theory," and confrontations between these activists and school officials have been a staple of Fox programming for months.
According to a survey of programming done by Media Matters for America, Fox News mentioned "critical race theory" on the network over 1,900 times in a three and a half month period.
The network's top-rated prime time host, Tucker Carlson, claimed on March 22 that the theory is "a cult," while the next day Will Cain, a co-host for "Fox & Friends," said it was "modern-day segregation" and "modern-day Jim Crow."
The stories flourished on the network as Republican elected officials shared that they felt whipping up a furor over critical race theory is an important strategy for conservatives ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Rep. Tom Emmer, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that the fight against the "controversial" theory would "be at the center of 2022 campaigns."
This story has been updated to correct the name of NRCC Chair Tom Emmer. A previous version referred to him as "Todd" Emmer.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.