Fox News’s The Five talk show mentioned Bundy once Thursday night.
That was Ted Bundy, the serial killer and rapist who murdered more than 30 girls and women before his execution by electric chair in 1989. Fox analyst Bob Beckel invoked his name in a conversation about accused murderer Jeffrey Wade Chapman.
Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose battle to keep his cattle on federally owned land without paying grazing fees has captured national attention and made him something of a libertarian hero, is nowhere to be found in that transcript.
That’s rather a stark shift from last week, when the conservative network and its star commentator Sean Hannity spent hours romanticizing the rancher.
It seems Fox’s enthusiasm for the libertarian rabble-rousing turned to squeamishness after Bundy revealed himself to be an unreconstructed racist, saying in a press conference that he thinks African-Americans—whom he refers to as “the Negro”—were better off as slaves.
By midday Thursday, after those comments were disclosed, Fox had mentioned Bundy just twice, Media Matters reported.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy drew a parallel between Bundy's standoff and the situation of two Texas landowners, and Fox's Andrew Napolitano told viewers to "forget the battle in Nevada" to focus on events in Texas instead.
But the network shied away from mentions of Bundy’s racist tirade.
Hannity, to his credit, vocally distanced himself from the rancher on his radio show, telling his listeners that Bundy’s views are “beyond repugnant” and “beyond despicable” to him.
But a particularly tense emblem of Fox’s unwillingness to devote airtime to the controversy—or to acknowledge its prior positions—came on Thursday, when Democratic strategist Joe Trippi appeared on the network for a segment about the Keystone XL pipeline. Trippi mentioned the Bundy ranch in passing before host Gretchen Carlson abruptly cut in.
“All right, let’s not bring that into this discussion,” she snapped impatiently while cameras rolled. “I don’t want to bring that into this discussion.”
Indeed—for Fox, that’s last week’s topic of discussion.