Fox has mentioned 'critical race theory' 1300 times — meet the man who promises to make it 'toxic'
Fox News has mentioned "critical race theory" 1300 times over the past three-and-a-half months, making the term, an area of study in colleges and universities, not in local public schools, not just mainstream, but "toxic."
"Just last week, Fox mentioned 'critical race theory' a record 244 times — an increase from the previous record high of 170 mentions the week before," Media Matters reports.
One man with connections from the Trump White House to top right wing think tanks promised to make that happen. It appears he was successful.
There's tremendous fear, hatred, and disinformation on the right about critical race theory, which The Washington Post calls "an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic, and not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices. The theory holds that racial inequality is woven into legal systems and negatively affects people of color in their schools, doctors' offices, the criminal justice system and countless other parts of life."
Many on the right feel threatened by that, likely in large part thanks to Fox News constantly hammering viewers over the head with the term, without properly explaining it.
How did this happen?
Meet Christopher Rufo, a research fellow at the religious right-linked Discovery Institute, and a senior fellow at the right wing Manhattan Institute.
The Manhattan Institute was once home to political scientist Charles Murray, whose infamous "Bell Curve" book has been deemed racist. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Murray as a white nationalist, and says he uses "racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor."
But back to Rufo.
On Tuesday NBC News published an extensive exposé on "critical race theory," and had this to say about Rufo:
Rufo, who said he was in touch with then-President Donald Trump's staff before he issued an executive order last September banning critical race theory's use by federal agencies, promised in a March tweet to make critical race theory "toxic" in the public imagination. Rufo declined an interview request.
"The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think 'critical race theory,'" he wrote. "We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans."
He clearly has been successful.
Republicans across the country are working to ban critical race theory from schools, yet another example of far right wing indoctrination and censorship becoming mainstream.
NBC News notes that "organizations like the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which produces model bills on Republican causes, held webinars that warned about the threat of teaching critical race theory."
In a series of tweets promoting its report on Rufo, The New Republic says, "Almost overnight, Christopher Rufo has become the standard-bearer for a hysterical movement to solve a problem that may not even exist—and in the process, charted a course for the right in the Biden era."
In addition to Rufo, one right wing activist, Elana Fishbein, founder of No Left Turn in Education, has ridden the critical race theory propaganda wave.
"Fishbein said she took part in a private briefing hosted by the Heritage Foundation in May that featured lawmakers from Idaho, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas and other states to discuss model legislation to block critical race theory," NBC adds. "Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee have already advanced some form of a restriction, and 15 states have legislation pending. The Heritage Foundation declined to comment."
Why has this extremist cabal of right wing think tanks, activists, and Fox News been so focused on fear-mongering falsehoods about critical race theory, and systemic racism?
"Fox has admitted its reason for this souped-up coverage: the 2022 midterm elections," Media Matter notes. "And in order to drum up outrage, the network has repeatedly amplified a lie that critical race theory teaches that one race is 'inherently superior to another.' More recently, in its continued efforts to demonize it, Fox News has promoted a pamphlet that echoes the white nationalist 'Great Replacement' conspiracy theory."
In addition to Fox's seemingly endless repetition of the term "critical race theory," its false assessments are terrifying to those who believe them.
"Fox's obsession with what it defines as 'critical race theory' has frequently crossed the threshold into the absurd and overly dramatic. Fox host Tucker Carlson called it 'a cult,' while host Will Cain said it is 'modern-day Jim Crow.' Fox contributor Miranda Devine claimed that teaching the theory would 'warp the minds of American children' and 'is a recipe for social upheaval and mental illness.' Fox's Newt Gingrich said it was being driven by 'people who want to brainwash your child.'"