Panic Station

Fox News shifts tone in attempt to keep its aging and gullible viewers alive

Three weeks ago, authorities in South Korea were blaming a “cult” for the surge in coronavirus in that country.

Here in America, something similar was happening: Fox News hosts were assuring Americans that the whole thing was just a hoax manufactured by the Democrats so they could impeach Dear Leader all over again.

Of course, the loyal hosts on State TV were just doing their part to echo the President and counteract what they called the “mass hysteria” and “hate” being pushed by the “liberal media.”

And viewers were swallowing it whole.

In one famous clip, a Trump rally goer went so far as to say the coronavirus didn’t even exist and no one had died from it.

As I wrote on February 26, Tucker Carlson was a notable exception. While Rush Limbaugh was still comparing the coronavirus to a “common cold,” Tucker was admitting that the Trump Administration had absolutely failed in its duty to test for and track the virus:

Right now, as of tonight, America is not ready for this or for any major epidemic… few locations in this country are even prepared to monitor coronavirus. And the economy, of course, isn’t prepared either.

As recently as March 7, Judge Jeanine Pirro was still confusing viewers by spewing nonsense about the flu:

They say the mortality rate for coronavirus is higher than a flu. But consider though, that we have a flu vaccine — and yet in 2019, 16,000 Americans died from the flu. 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. Without a vaccine, the flu would be far more deadly.

But this week, everything changed. Even as Trump was still bragging about his coronavirus “numbers” (which his testing negligence had kept artificially low for weeks), the Wall Street “numbers” and a series of infections among guests he interacted with at Mar-a-Lago finally convinced him to take the situation seriously.

By March 14, even Judge Jeanine was forced to admit this was a National Emergency, offering viewers some of the most extreme “safety tips” advice I’ve seen proposed by anyone, including “Wash Coats Every 1-2 Days.”

The shift at Fox News has come so fast some viewers may have whiplash

The network has spent the best part of three decades railing against the “liberal media”—and the past three years collaborating with Trump in his authoritarian attacks on the free press.

But this is a different kind of crisis: It can be spread easily by uninformed people who don’t take precautions. It kills old people more than young people.

And, seeing as its viewers have a median age of 67, no one has more of an interest in keeping the old and the uninformed alive than Fox News.

But even as Fox News hosts are grudgingly assuring their viewers that perhaps, maybe CNN and The New York Times are not, after all, Enemies of the People—and that some of the coronavirus coverage in mainstream media is accurate and useful, they are also warning against “fingerpointing.”

Heaven forbid that a “news” channel—or Dear Leader himself—be forced to take responsibility for any of the dumb and dangerous things they have been saying for the past two months.

But at least everyone’s now got the memo, right?

Wrong.

Just this morning, idiot cow-suing Congressman Devin Nunes was encouraging young people to go out and spread a deadly virus among their fellow Americans while they still can:

Fox News may still book guests who, like Nunes, are best known for promoting Kremlin propaganda, but in programming terms, Fox News and Fox Business have signaled a major switch in covering the coronavirus pandemic. At Fox Business, they even benched two hosts—Trish Regan and Kennedy—who have been notable for their dishonest and dangerous coverage of the crisis.

Much like Trump’s Twitter feed, Fox News will likely continue to be a source of dangerous bravado and misinformation. The booking of Devin Nunes proves that. But at least they’ve dropped the pretense that coronavirus is a hoax invented to take down the President—and started delivering enough factual information to hopefully keep their gullible viewers alive.


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