Fact Check: Stephen King Allegedly Said Fox News Did 'What Our Parents Were Afraid Video Games Would Do to Us.' Here's the Truth

Getty Images
Getty Images

Claim:

Author Stephen King once said, "Fox News did to our parents what our parents were afraid video games would do to us."

Rating:

Rating: Misattributed
Rating: Misattributed

On June 24, 2024, X user @JamesTate121 posted a quote claiming author Stephen King once said, "Fox news did to our parents what our parents were afraid video games would do to us." The body of the post repeated the alleged attribution, reading, "Stephen King pens it best."

(X user @JamesTate121)

King did post the saying on X on Nov. 14, 2023. However, he included a disclaimer clarifying that he was not the original author of the quote, which he credited to "Tweet (no attribution)."

(X user @StephenKing)

Because the attribution of the quote to King stems from an obvious misunderstanding of King's original post, we have rated this quote as "Misattributed." 

Based on reverse-image searches conducted using Google Images and TinEye, the exact quote meme in the post, which incorrectly identifies King as the quote's originator, appears to have first circulated in the weeks after King's X post went viral, appearing on Imgur and Instagram in late November 2023.

At the time of this writing, @JamesTate121's X post had received around 47,000 likes and 8,100 reposts, many of which expressed skepticism that King was the real source of the quote. As one reposter pointed out, "Stephen King is 76 years old. What video game were his parents afraid of? Pong didn't come out until he was 25!"

Another clue that the quote was misattributed is the fact that Fox News was launched in 1996, years after King's mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King, died in 1973 and his father, Donald Edwin King, died in 1980 — meaning neither of King's parents could ever have watched Fox News, let alone be influenced by it.

Who Said It First?

A community note appended to @JamesTate121's post on June 25, 2024, which has since been deleted but can be seen in archived versions of the post as well as in the below screenshot, claimed that the quote originated with a post made on Aug. 3, 2019, by X user @ryan_scott. That post read, "Fox News did to our parents what they thought video games would do to us."

(X user @JamesTate121)

However, Snopes was able to find multiple earlier posts sharing versions of the same quote, which went viral at least twice before @ryan_scott posted his version in 2019. In other words, claims that the quote originated with X user @ryan_scott are also incorrect.

On June 10, 2019, nearly two months before @ryan_scott's post, X user @AllenCMarshall posted, "FOX has done to our parents what our parents thought video games would do to us." That post had received around 64,000 reposts and 264,000 likes as of this writing.

(X user @AllenCMarshall)

More than a year before @AllenCMarshall's post, on Jan. 31, 2018, another X user, @Blk_Dolphin, posted a slightly broader variation of the same quote, reading, "CNN & Fox News has done to our parents what they thought violent video games & Marilyn Manson would do to us." This post, which had received around 25,000 reposts and 74,000 likes as of this writing, appears to be the first securely datable time any variation on the quote went viral.

(X user @Blk_Dolphin)

However, the existence of an even earlier X post, dated April 7, 2017, shows that at least one form of the quote was in circulation even earlier, even if this particular quote did not go viral. In it, user @awylam responded to a now-deleted post with, "Who was it that said @FoxNews has done to baby boomers what our parents said video games would do to us?"

(X user @awylam)

Although Snopes has been unable to find any earlier, securely datable appearances of any version of the quote online, the wording of @awylam's April 2017 X post strongly suggests that the quote had already been circulating in some form, whether online or through word of mouth, by the time it was posted. 

Ultimately, none of the early examples Snopes was able to track down can be accurately described as the origin of the quote, which may be best understood as a saying or proverb, not an attributable quote. 

We've fact-checked other alleged King quotes, including whether the author said, "Hard to believe there was ever a world leader as dumb as Donald Trump. Can't spell, can't read, has never managed anything approaching an original thought."

Sources:

Brian Flood, Joseph Wulfsohn. "Fox News Channel Celebrates 25 Years on the Air." Fox News, 6 Oct. 2021, https://www.foxnews.com/media/fox-news-channel-celebrates-25-years-on-the-air.

Donald Edwin King (1914-1980) - Find a Grave... https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/136342403/donald_edwin-king. Accessed 26 June 2024.

LaMagdeleine, Izz Scott. "Stephen King Once Said, 'Hard to Believe There Was Ever a World Leader as Dumb as Donald Trump'?" Snopes, 18 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/stephen-king-dumb-donald-trump-quote/.

Nellie Ruth "Ruthie Pill" Pillsbury King ... https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/107909877/nellie_ruth-king. Accessed 26 June 2024.