‘Exposes Fox News to potential legal action’: 11 times Fox lied to viewers about coronavirus threat

Hannity Pirro Regan

Source: Flickr/Screenshot

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Fox lied. People died. That’s the scenario that experts say has Fox’s insiders concerned about on-air comments downplaying the coronavirus and repeatedly calling it a “hoax.”

As the COVID-19 deaths are continuing to rise, the earlier statements made by some of the hosts could bring about legal action. One media expert told MSNBC:

“There’s a real concern inside the network that their early downplaying of the coronavirus actually exposes Fox News to potential legal action by viewers who maybe were misled and actually have died from this.”

Here are 11 times when Fox personalities’ outrageous and false statements may have opened the network up to liability.

1. It’s a “hoax”

Trump Hannity interview

Screenshot / Fox News

“They’re scaring the living hell out of people and I see it again as like, ‘Oh, let’s bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.’”

In a reckless attempt to deflect viewers from Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis, Fox host Sean Hannity repeatedly called the coronavirus a “hoax,” as Media Matters has noted.

This has likely led to countless viewers ignoring CDC guidelines and furthering the spread of the virus.

2. You’re safe as long as you’re not old or weak.

Spring break partier coronavirus

Screenshot/YouTube

Here’s Hannity again:

“And that is that unless you have an immune system that is compromised, and you are older, and you have other underlying health issues you’re not going to die 99% from this virus, correct?”

With the recent deaths of young coronavirus victims, it’s clear that it can strike anyone. Hannity’s false claim, made during his coronavirus denial phase, may have led young people to continue partying during spring break.

(Also, a question for Dr. Hannity: What does it mean for someone to “99% die”?)

3. It’s no worse than the flu.

Coronavirus live updates: Fauci talks timeline, Unemployment over 3 million, ER doctors get therapy dogs

Screenshot/The Guardian

Dr. Marc Siegel, Fox News Medical Correspondent:

“At worst…worst case scenario it might be the flu.”

The Washington Post pointed out Siegel’s comment in an article noting that Fox News had reversed course and begun to take the threat seriously. But that switch doesn’t help Fox watchers who failed to take precautions while the network’s  propaganda machine was focused on the “hoax.”

4. Let’s “imagine” a less deadly reality

X times Fox personalities’ coronavirus comments freaked out Fox’s lawyers 1

Wikimedia

Let’s try to follow Jeanine Pirro’s logic here:

“Imagine if we did not have the flu vaccine, the flu would be a pandemic. So all the talk about coronavirus being so much more deadly doesn’t reflect reality.”

Got it. If you imagine something, then it becomes reality. And somehow that makes it less deadly? In reality, the experts are saying that coronavirus is deadlier than the seasonal flu.

5. Now is a good time to breathe some airplane air

Boeing airplane cabin

Wikimedia

Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt:

“It’s actually the safest time to fly. Everyone I know that’s flying right now, terminals are pretty much, dead.”

Actually…no, according to PolitiFact, if coronavirus is spreading where you live or where you’re going, then it’s a bad idea to fly. And that’s pretty much everywhere in the U.S.

6. Sara Carter smells something fishy

11 times Fox lawyers freaked out over the network's coronavirus coverage

Screenshot/Fox News

Maybe she needs to clean her tinfoil hat? The Fox News contributor says:

“People are driving by their hospitals and they’re not seeing…anybody in the parking lots…So, people are wondering what’s going inside the hospital. How many people are actually in the hospitals that are suffering from coronavirus, how many ventilators, are the ICUs really being filled, how full are they?”

This logic-defying attempt to downplay shortages of ventilators, beds, and protective gear is part of a wider effort to sow confusion, according to Media Matters.

Using a #FilmYourHospital hashtag, right-wing conspiracy theorists are “encouraging others to investigate” hospital parking lots and waiting rooms to demonstrate “that the number of coronavirus cases is being exaggerated by the media.”

7. Twitter deletes Laura Ingraham’s hydroxychloroquine’s hype

Medicine Pills

Source: Pixabay

The Daily Beast reports that Twitter deleted the tweet because it violated the company’s “misleading information policy.”

So, how about a thought experiment? What would Fox News would look like if it had a policy banning misleading information?

8. Laura Ingraham tells viewers to ignore doctors’ advice

11 times Fox lawyers freaked out over the network's coronavirus coverage 1

Wikimedia

More than 10,000 people liked this tweet. On March 30, a week later, the U.S. reported 20,297 new cases.

9. Ingraham’s “hold my beer” take

Beer tap

Wikimedia

Owning the libs takes a lot more than hyping unproven drugs and pushing for the end of social distancing, so Laura Ingraham made sure that her viewers knew where to find a reckless post that was banned by Medium.

10. Dr. Oz on the “pretty safe virus” for most Americans

Dr. Mehmet Oz on The View

Screenshot/YouTube

“Now the medical community is saying, ‘Let’s step it back for a second. You’re going to be fine….’  So it’s a pretty safe virus for the majority of Americans.”

Dr. Oz, who apparently was absent from medical school when they discussed the meaning of “pretty safe,” should pick up a copy of a medical journal. The Lancet  expects “infection attack rates (around 50–80%)” leading “even the most advanced health-care systems…to be overwhelmed.”

11. Coronavirus is just “an impeachment scam”

THEN AND NOW: Fox personalities who suddenly changed their tune about coronavirus

Source: Screenshot/Fox News

Trish Regan combines crazy, conspiratorial, and stupid in just two sentences:

“This is yet another attempt to impeach the president. And sadly it seems like they care very little for every destruction they are leaving in their wake…”

It’s hard to understand why this is where Fox News drew the line, but they did. As The Daily Beast reports, Regan was fired for this comment.

Fox expert Gabe Sherman told MSNBC, “I’ve heard Trish Regan’s being taken off the air is, you know, reflective of this concern that Fox News is in big trouble by downplaying this virus.”

notes that this is a sign that Fox executives and attorneys are concerned “that Fox News is in big trouble by downplaying this virus.”

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