Why Are Fox News Hosts So Terrified of Marijuana?

Laura Ingraham has warned viewers repeatedly about marijuana, but ‘Fox & Friends’ recently took the fear-factor to another level. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Fox News hosts and producers tell their audience to fear many things. Certainly, the migrant caravan was something every American should fear. Antifa soldiers at one point also represented a threat to freedom-loving citizens everywhere.

Marijuana belongs on the list as well. For years, Fox News hosts and guests have warned the audience that — despite being legal for recreational use in many states — marijuana can lead you down a path of ruin. Describing it as “a gateway drug” that increases the likelihood of “suicide,” the network has painted a grim picture of weed.

Yet viewers of Fox & Friends saw the gang take the concept to 11 on December 3. First, host Brian Kilmeade described “people told one thing who then got addicted to [marijuana].” Then it was time for Polk County (Florida) Sheriff Grady Judd to speak.

Judd said marijuana was “ruining families and killing people every day.” After he continued, it became clear that, again, Fox News has a problem finding reliable sources for broadcasts.

They ‘kill themselves, or overdose, or kill someone else.’

Judd followed his initial point with an even more frightening image: meth users who also consume marijuana. “If someone’s in possession of meth, you’re in possession of marijuana because it kind of cuts the edge of the meth,” he said. “And then they use the marijuana and the meth. And they go out and kill themselves, or overdose, or kill someone else.”

(Judd didn’t provide any statistics to back up the claims. Kilmeade and his co-hosts didn’t ask for any, either.)

Somehow, the segment began with a story about a 12-year-old giving marijuana edibles to classmates. (They became sick and needed medical treatment.) But by the end, we imagine viewers would be disturbed by the prospect of anyone they know consuming marijuana.

Judd’s take on the drug reminded at least one media observer of the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness. In an epic scene from the film, marijuana takes hold of several people, and one of them ends up leaping to her death.

If you believe we’ve progressed from the days when misinformation ruled, we invite you to read through the autopsies of the 2016 election (or simply visit Infowars and spend two minutes there). It depends on what station you watch for news, what website you read, and who’s doing the talking on the air.

At Fox, the network’s viewers have been seeing similar segments for years.

Fox’s fear and loathing of pot

The ‘Fox & Friends’ team | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

John Kerr, who does video work at Media Matters for America, pointed out that the Fox & Friends freakout was par for the course at the network. In a clip Kerr compiled of Fox broadcasts, you see similar themes from network hosts over the years.

“If you smoke pot regularly, there are some studies that show you are eight times more likely to kill yourself,” said Jon Talcott of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (with a straight face) on one Fox segment. “And you’re six times more likely to be schizophrenic,” he added.

Bill O’Reilly, the disgraced former Fox host, once ran through the particulars with Jesse Watters.

“Most of these [marijuana smokers] I assume are unemployed?” O’Reilly asked.

“Yes, or they’re working odd jobs for minimum-wage,” Watters answered. That baffled O’Reilly. “Then how do they get the money to buy the, uh, marijuana?”

When not praising the brilliant work Trump did in North Korea earlier in 2018, Laura Ingraham has also been known to rail against the “dopes smoking dope.” She described it as “wrecking the minds of young people” at one point.

Coincidentally, that’s what many people say about Fox News and a significant swath of the population. Here’s the thing: There’s only proof to back up one of those claims.

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