Fox News appears to be giving free promotion to the Hobby Lobby-connected Museum of the Bible amid a yearslong advertiser relationship with the controversial museum and weeks of sponsored segments on the network. In April, Fox ran at least two segments that were seemingly not sponsored promoting the museum’s exhibit on the compatibility of science and faith, praising the museum’s collection, and encouraging viewers to visit the museum, which requires a paid ticket.
When the Museum of the Bible opened in 2017, it was the largest privately funded museum in Washington, D.C. Part of the $500 million museum’s collection came from artifacts acquired by Steve Green, the evangelical president of Hobby Lobby and a board member of the museum. Green’s collection quickly became a legal and financial headache for the Museum of the Bible, as reporting revealed that thousands of the museum’s prized artifacts were “looted or fake.” The U.S. government fined the museum $3 million and the museum has since returned thousands of stolen items to Egypt, Iraq, and Greece.
Fox aired two segments promoting the Museum of the Bible that appeared to be unsponsored on the April 7 and April 29 editions of Fox’s “straight news” shows America Reports and Fox News @ Night. During the segments, Fox showed numerous interior shots of the museum’s new exhibit, shared descriptions of exhibit materials, and mentioned the exhibit's closing date.
On April 29, Fox chief religion correspondent Lauren Green also claimed that the exhibit covers “the big questions about existence that are only answered fully when both science and faith join hands.” Green briefly noted that the Smithsonian is running a similar exhibit on “the relationship between science and all faiths,” but Fox did not show video footage of the Smithsonian’s collection.
This free press comes amid various sponsored segments from the Museum of the Bible on Fox.
On April 8, Fox & Friends Weekend aired a sponsored segment during which museum staff gave Fox’s chief religion correspondent an enthusiastic behind-the-scenes tour of the “amazing” museum. The tour highlighted the ways the museum emphasizes the impact of the Bible on America’s founding and a connection between America’s founding and Christianity. Green exclaimed that the tour shows attendees “how much God is a part of our government.”
While discussing the exhibit, Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain declared that the Bible “is just inextricable from our history and our culture” and then encouraged viewers to visit the museum. Co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy added that there is a “battle to save” the version of history presented by the museum and praised the privately funded museum for avoiding the “wokification of our Smithsonian” museums.
On April 23, Fox & Friends Weekend ran another “Faith & friends” sponsored segment, which highlighted a scholarship at Franciscan University of Steubenville for students who promise to “unplug” from smartphone use during their undergraduate years to “focus on prayer.”
In addition to these sponsored segments, the Museum of the Bible has maintained a yearslong advertiser relationship with Fox News, according to a data review by Media Matters. Since 2017, the museum has run hundreds of ads on the cable news network, with ads airing during shows including Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five, and The Ingraham Angle. The museum has also bought ad space on FoxNews.com. According to a review of Pathmatics data, between January 1 and April 26, 2023, the museum spent over $35,000 for online ads on the Fox News site, which earned nearly 6 million impressions.