Anger mounts in Hollywood over Fox immigration coverage

Producer Steve Levitan is leaving Fox over its news division’s coverage of the US immigration crisis. (AFP pic)

LOS ANGELES: “Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan became on Tuesday the latest in a string of Hollywood figures berating Fox over its news division’s coverage, announcing he was quitting the entertainment giant.

Much of the anger has centred around Fox News’s reporting of US President Donald Trump’s move to forcibly separate migrant children from their parents at the southern border, which some see as deliberately misleading.

Levitan tweeted that the cable station’s “23-hour-a-day support” of the gun lobby, conservative conspiracy theories, and President Donald Trump’s falsehoods were “harder to swallow every day as I drive onto that lot to make a show about inclusion.”

“I look forward to seeing #ModernFamily through to the end and then, sale or no sale, setting up shop elsewhere,” he said.

Levitan, who won five consecutive Emmy Awards for the long-running ABC sitcom, had already announced that next year’s 10th season would be the last, with his 20th Century Fox Television contract due to expire.

Fox News, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, is often criticised for its coverage, but the reverberations are rarely felt in the corridors of parent company 21st Century Fox.

On Monday, Levitan publicly supported actor and filmmaker Seth MacFarlane’s comment that he was “embarrassed” to work for Fox.

Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham has come in for particularly vociferous criticism after she described detention centers holding 2,000 immigrant children at the southern border as “essentially summer camps.”

Both Ingraham and fellow anchor Sean Hannity, seen as one of Trump’s closest unofficial aides, have been hit by advertiser boycotts.

“Ghostbusters” and “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, who made “Spy” and “The Heat” for the studio, also criticised the news coverage.

“I too cannot condone the support their news division promotes toward the immoral and abusive policies and actions taken by this current administration toward immigrant children,” he said.

Veteran producer Judd Apatow has urged Fox talent to mount pressure on the company over its immigration coverage, demanding of the studio’s stars and executives: “Imagine if it was your kids.”

Last week, Comcast offered US$65 billion for key film and television assets of 21st Century Fox, sparking a tug-of-war with Disney for a deal that could create a dominant media-entertainment power.