“Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan has renewed his criticism Fox News and its parent company amid backlash to the cable channel’s coverage following the mass shooting Saturday at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“By espousing unfounded conspiracy theories and justifying Trump’s reprehensible statements and actions, Fox News fuels our country’s divisiveness,” Levitan told Variety. “I sincerely hope Lachlan Murdoch recognizes the damage this is doing and finally brings sound journalistic ethics and standards to his network before more unhinged people are riled up to send bombs and shoot up churches and synagogues.”
The co-creator of ABC comedy “Modern Family,” Levitan has a longstanding relationship with Fox, which produces the series through studio 20th Century Fox Television. That unit is expected to be absorbed by the Walt Disney Co. as part of its pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox, expected to be finalized early next year. Fox Broadcasting, home to previous Levitan series such as “Back to You” and “LA to Vegas,” will be spun off under that deal into a new company headed by Lachlan Murdoch that will also include Fox News and Fox Sports.
Levitan — whose overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television expired in July — told Variety that regardless of whether he re-ups with 20th or signs a new deal with another studio, he will not do business with the Murdoch family-controlled New Fox or its broadcast arm.
“I’m not going to do anything for the Fox network ever again as long as Fox News remains such a destructive voice in our society,” he said.
Fox has faced intense criticism in recent days related to its coverage of the synagogue shooting, explosive devices mailed to political leaders and members of the press, and the caravan of migrants that has been traveling through South America toward the United States. Fox Business Network condemned anti-Semitic remarks made during a segment about the caravan on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” when the interview re-aired close on the heels of the Pittsburgh shooting. On Monday, conservative blogger Matt Drudge took to Twitter to criticize the hosts of Fox News’ “Outnumbered” for appearing to laugh while an on-screen chyron alluded to the Pittsburgh attack.
A Fox Business executive condemned the remarks made on Dobbs’ show, and the guest who said them will no longer appear on the network. Fox News took pains explain what set Drudge off. “Kennedy made an unrelated quip at the end of the segment which was focused on unity – there was absolutely no joking or laughing about the events of this weekend and a screen grab of her smiling is hardly indicative of the entire segment,’ the network said in a statement. “The lower third should not have been up for the duration of this segment as it was not fully reflective of what the panelists were discussing,” Fox News said in a statement.
On Monday, filmmaker Judd Apatow quoted a tweet from HBO’s John Oliver criticizing Fox News’ coverage of the mail bombs, writing, “When will the employees of @FOXTV demand changes at this company?” and linking to Fox Broadcasting’s Twitter account. Apatow later tweeted, “Where are the @FOXTV show runners ? Where are your voices against the hate and lies spouted on @foxnews? What will it take for you to speak out? So many people with power remain silent. Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Take action. Your bosses fan the flames.”
On Tuesday, Levitan tweeted criticism of Dobbs and Fox News host Sean Hannity, writing, “Why does @FoxNews so consistently feature crazy conspiracy theorists? Can I be on to talk about how Lou Dobbs is responsible for Hurricanes? Or how Sean Hannity hired actors for the Caravan? Where are the journalistic standards?”
Levitan, Apatow, Seth MacFarlane, and Paul Feig were among several creators who criticized Fox’s entertainment operations in June over Fox News’ coverage of the separation of immigrant families.