Fox News caught trying to pass off GOP operatives as parents "concerned" about critical race theory

A new report sheds light on the backgrounds of the nearly dozen anti-CRT guests featured on Fox News

Published June 17, 2021 5:07PM (EDT)

Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt discuss critical race theory on Fox and Friends. (Getty Images)
Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt discuss critical race theory on Fox and Friends. (Getty Images)

Fox News failed to disclose to their audience that nearly a dozen guests billed as parents panicked by what they misleadingly label critical race theory being taught to their young children in school are also professional Republican operatives, according to a newly released report

The liberal media watchdog organization Media Matters for America details how Fox News has repeatedly failed to mention that their guests, who included right-wing media personalities, GOP strategists and conservative think tank staffers, were far from apolitical despite billing them as your average outraged parent. 

For example, one of the guests who frequently appeared to rail against critical race theory was a gentleman by the name of Ian Prior, who was billed by the network as a "Loudoun County parent" that went "from [a] concerned parent, like many of you, to legal activist." But below the surface, Prior is a Republican operative with deep GOP political roots. The former Department of Justice spokesperson, Media Matters noted, worked "in top communications roles during the 2016 election cycle" including for "the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Karl Rove-fronted super PAC American Crossroads, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that works to elect Republican senators which was founded by allies of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell." 

Another frequent guest to appear on Fox News, Lilet Vanetsyan, turned out to be far from an ordinary parent, as well. Instead of being your average frustrated parent, Vanetsyan is associated with the pro-Trump organization Turning Point USA founded by Charlie Kirk and was a reporter for the right-wing Right Side Broadcasting Network. Fox billed Vanetsyan as a "Fairfax County teacher," despite being a longtime Trump supporter and fervent GOP activist.

According to a different Media Matters study, the topic of critical race theory, which dives deep into how systemic racism should be taught to children in schools across America, has been mention almost 1,300 times over the course of the past four months on Fox News. "With mentions doubling month over month, the 'critical race theory' boogeyman is exploding on Fox News," the report noted.

A Fox News spokesperson didn't return a Salon request for comment on the Media Matters for America investigation.

On Thursday, The Daily Dot published a report chronicling that when GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill were pressed on what critical race theory, they had very little idea what they were talking about. Notably, Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott told the Daily Dot"there's a lot of people that have a lot of different definitions," pressed further, he added, "I don't think the Republican caucus has a definition."

By Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo was an investigative reporter at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Critical Race Theory Fox News Gop Media Matters For America Rick Scott Right-wing Media Turning Point Usa