What the Fox? Network calls Biden ‘wannabe dictator’ in lower third

By NewscastStudio

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In the world of broadcast news, the chyron (or lower third) plays a significant role in framing narratives and directing the viewer’s understanding of events.

During Fox’s coverage of Donald Trump’s post-arraignment speech on Tuesday, a particular choice of chyron caused a stir and received industry criticism, labeling President Joe Biden a “wannabe dictator.”

Fox was the only major cable news network to carry the former president’s speech live, with CNN and MSNBC opting to air clips that could be fact-checked.

The lower third appeared in the final minutes of “Fox News Tonight,” the show that replaced Tucker Carlson’s former hour on the network, and right before “Hannity.” 

The full insert read “Wannabe dictator speaks at the White House after having his political rival arrested,” referring to President Joe Biden and his ongoing speech at the White House.

This narrative choice — positioning Trump as a counterpoint to a “wannabe dictator” — was not only a clear divergence from the more neutral language typical of news tickers but also effectively echoed Trump’s own claims against the Biden administration.

While Fox has long been known for its conservative lean, this particular choice of chyron text seems to represent a new level of alignment with Trump’s narrative, including with the “dictator” label and claim that Biden had Trump “arrested,” when he did not have direct involvement in the latest indictment. 

The network also played a key role in amplifying Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 presidential election.

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When Trump arrived at his Bedminster club to deliver the speech, CNN’s Anderson Cooper told viewers that the network would not broadcast it live but would monitor it for newsworthy content. Jake Tapper, another CNN anchor, noted that they decided against live coverage due to Trump’s history of making false and potentially dangerous statements.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow echoed these sentiments, arguing that knowingly broadcasting untruths compromises a news organization’s ability to deliver accurate information.

Yet, the Fox chyron raises questions about where the line is drawn between journalistic responsibility and editorializing news coverage.

Fox’s decision to use such a provocative chyron comes on the heels of its $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over defamation claims. The network had propagated Trump’s unproven theories that Dominion’s voting machines had been manipulated to sway the 2020 election against him.

Later, a Fox spokesperson contacted NewscastStudio to request that the statement “The chyron was taken down immediately and was addressed” be added to this story, but did not respond to a foll0w-up request for comment on how it was addressed, or if it felt the wording was appropriate or accurate.

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