It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between FOX News and CNN or MSNBC, especially when the topic is guns, especially after a mass shooting.
For at least seven years, FOX News has been citing fake mass-shooting data from the Gun Violence Archive – an anti-gun nonprofit we debunked years ago – in its digital and broadcast news stories. The reason is simple. The GVA inflates body counts, sometimes by more than 1,000%, so its overblown data has become catnip for the legacy media, which is constantly seeking more sensational headlines and news stories.
How does the GVA get its inflated numbers? They created their own definition of a mass shooting, of course. When most Americans hear the term, they picture a madman stalking the halls of a school or a shopping mall, coldly murdering innocent victims. What does not come to mind are rival drug crews shooting it out in Chicago, a deranged husband murdering his entire family, or a law-abiding gun owner acting in self-defense.
Yet for the GVA, anytime four or more people are killed or even slightly wounded with a firearm, it’s labeled a mass shooting. For example, according to the FBI and its more conservative definition, there were 30 mass shootings in 2019. The GVA claims there were 417. Despite the obvious bad math, the legacy media, politicians, and the gun-ban industry treat GVA’s reports as gospel. The Biden-Harris Administration, The New York Times, National Public Radio, USA Today, The Trace, and a host of other outlets all cite GVA’s fictitious data and use its overly broad definition when reporting about mass shootings.
The GVA uses dubious sources to gather its mass-shooting data, too. In a 2021 interview with the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project, Mark Bryant, a retired computer analyst, and GVA’s executive director admitted his researchers gather data from law enforcement Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as media accounts, even though the media is notorious for getting the facts wrong after a mass shooting.
Despite these bad sources and bad math, FOX News continues to cite the GVA in their stories, most recently Monday, after a mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky.
Bryant founded the GVA in 2013, and FOX News began citing them as a news source just a few years later.
The network has never fully disclosed the nature of the anti-gun nonprofit to its viewers, or how it gathers its information. Here is a list of how FOX News has attributed the GVA data in news stories from the past seven years:
- 2016 – “using information collected by the Gun Violence Archive, a nonpartisan research group.”
- 2017 – “based on data from the Gun Violence Archive, which catalogs reports of gun violence in the U.S.”
- 2018 – “according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.”
- 2019 – “according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA).”
- 2020 – “according to the Gun Violence Archive.”
- 2021 – “according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).”
- 2022 – “The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as ones where ‘4 or more [people are] shot or killed, not including the shooter.’”
- February, 2023 – “according to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.”
- March, 2023 – “according to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.”
Both Trace Gallagher, FOX News Anchor/Chief Breaking News Correspondent, and Brett Baier, Chief Political Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report, have cited GVA data recently in news stories.
I reached out to both on Twitter, warning them their credibility was at risk. Neither Gallagher nor Baier responded.
Neither Irena Briganti, Senior Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications – of FOX News Media, nor Porter Berry, Executive Vice President, and Editor-in-Chief of FOX News Digital, responded to emails seeking their comments and an explanation as to why the network was pushing flawed and biased data in news stories.
I should disclose I am a regular FOX News viewer. I turn it on in the morning after my computer warms up and it stays on throughout my workday. I check the FOX News website at least hourly, and I cannot miss an episode of Tucker, who fearlessly holds the powerful accountable, or Gutfeld, who is always good for a laugh.
Still, what FOX News is doing is dead wrong. They are aiding and abetting the gun banners by repeatedly citing overblown mass shooting data, which can lead the uninformed into believing that “gun violence” – another term FOX should stop using – is far worse than it really is. FOX is the most-watched cable news network in the country. Millions of people tune in to its programming. That could be a real game-changer if the network would start telling the truth rather than promulgating debunked lies.
In my humble opinion, FOX should immediately stop citing GVA data and issue a clarification and an apology to its viewers. That’s what’s required journalistically, and it’s also the right thing to do. I hope FOX’s editors and producers take corrective action quickly because America is watching.
This story is presented by the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and wouldn’t be possible without you. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support more pro-gun stories like this.
About Lee Williams
Lee Williams, who is also known as “The Gun Writer,” is the chief editor of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Until recently, he was also an editor for a daily newspaper in Florida. Before becoming an editor, Lee was an investigative reporter at newspapers in three states and a U.S. Territory. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a police officer. Before becoming a cop, Lee served in the Army. He’s earned more than a dozen national journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. Lee is an avid tactical shooter.