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Fox News downplays Women's March on Washington

The three main cable news networks may have been equal in their wall-to-wall coverage of Friday’s inauguration and its festivities, but during Saturday’s coverage of the Women’s March on Washington, the historical divide between Fox News and its compatriots had been firmly reinstated.

CNN, MSNBC and Fox News were all dinged by many viewers for choosing to open their Saturday morning coverage with footage of newly minted President Trump at the National Prayer Service rather than the estimated 500,000 marchers. 

But whereas by midmorning CNN and MSNBC had turned their multi-screened attention to the throngs of protesters, Fox, which had drawn a tweet of praise from the president for its coverage of the inauguration, continued to do just that.

Showing shots of the White House, Fox recapped the previous day’s events, discussed the swearing-in of the secretary of Defense and reported on the Trump family’s bowling in their new Pennsylvania Avenue home.  

As the day wore on and millions marched and rallied around the country, commentators at MSNBC and CNN repeatedly expressed surprise at the number of people involved and invited a wide range of conversation about what such an event could mean for the country.

For hours, cameras swooped from on high to capture the sprawling crowds in Washington and other cities while coverage of high-profile speakers including Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore and Sen. Elizabeth Warren was interspersed with conversations about issues of inclusion — the march’s stated platform in favor of abortion rights left many women feeling uninvited — the apathy of voters in the recent election, and whether it was fair to demonstrate against a president who had just taken office. 

Not so much on Fox. Jennifer Griffin reported from the scene and did lead with live coverage a few times in the afternoon — playing big Madonna’s use of profanity from the stage and her statement that she had thought about blowing up the White House — but it was a far cry from minute-by-minute analysis of a huge news event.

Focusing exclusively on Washington, Fox cameras did occasionally pull back to show the crowd, but there were inevitably the signature touches — Shannon Bream questioned whether the crowd estimates were accurate, and Bill Hemmer wondered whether it meant that liberals “refuse to accept reality.” 

Even when, later in the afternoon, Geraldo Rivera acknowledged “the tsunami” of protesters, his colleague Greg Gutfeld had his talking points at the ready. “The reason you get big marches in cities is that’s where the left lives,” he said. 

Overlooked was that thousands had traveled to Washington to participate in the march, just as thousands of others had come to see Trump sworn in.

Meredith Blake and Stephen Battaglio contributed to this report.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

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