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How the Fox News presidency has politicized a national health crisis

From previously downplaying risks and accusing the media of fearmongering, Fox News has taken a very different tone towards the coronavirus in recent days. Watch the latest videos on Covid-19. 

Posted: Mar 27, 2020 1:41 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2020 1:41 PM

The Fox News presidency has taken a dangerous turn.

As the coronavirus crisis deepens all across the United States, the Trump administration is favoring Fox and turning down almost all other networks' interview requests. It's the politicization of a pandemic.

The result: Key administration officials are not being subjected to much-needed scrutiny. And doctors are being drawn into a petty political game.

Fox, the television home of the Trump administration, has been stocked with Trump aides and officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who appeared on "The Ingraham Angle" Tuesday night and said President Trump's insistence on a return to normalcy "by Easter" is just an "aspirational goal."

By showing up on Fox and shunning other networks, top officials may be trying to get through to Trump -- or doing what they perceive he wants.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham appeared on "Fox & Friends" Wednesday morning and criticized the press. She said some unnamed "members of the media are using a really important time in our country to try and divide people on the task force." Grisham is a regular on Fox, but almost never agrees to interviews on broadcast networks, which draw more viewers than Fox.

Booking producers have been getting frustrated by all the "no's" from the administration. Clashes within the White House's communications team have exacerbated the problems.

"There are some people on the task force who actually want to do TV but can't get any straight answers from the White House or the Vice President's communications shop, so interviews are falling through the cracks left and right," a television producer with knowledge of the matter said. The coronavirus task force was formed in late January as a response to the outbreak in the US. It is composed of White House officials and doctors, including Dr. Fauci, Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Dr. Deborah Birx.

The task force's TV appearances suggest a shoring-up-the-base strategy by the White House -- which is incongruent while the entire country is fighting a virus that has no political party.

No government officials appeared on Wednesday's TV morning newscasts, for example. But Surgeon General Adams made time for Sean Hannity's talk show on Tuesday night. According to Hannity, he will be interviewing Trump later this week.

Fox programs have soft-pedaled the government's shortcomings and promoted an imminent rollback of social distancing restrictions. Public health experts say such a change could be catastrophic because it would cause a surge in new coronavirus infections.

But Trump was barely challenged on that point when Fox anchors interviewed him on Tuesday.

The interview was billed as a "virtual town hall" live from the Rose Garden. It took place in the early afternoon, typically one of the lowest-rated times of day on Fox News, instead of prime time. (Ratings have been elevated across the board due to the national emergency.)

"I doubt this would ever happen, but Trump should hold a town hall with another network in the very near future," Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones wrote Wednesday.

Throughout the duration of the coronavirus crisis, Trump has appeared at regular White House briefings, and has attracted criticism for spreading misinformation from the podium.

He has given interviews to Fox but has declined virtually all other interview requests.

Dr. Fauci has been much more available for interviews. His presence at some briefings, and his absence at others, has stirred speculation about his relationship with the president.

Fauci appeared on CNN's weekly global coronavirus town hall for the past three weeks, but the administration initially declined to make him available for this Thursday's town hall, according to a CNN representative.

After this story was originally published on Wednesday, Fauci was added as a confirmed guest for the town hall. He is also expected to appear on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time" on Wednesday night.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62856

Reported Deaths: 3032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11433443
Cuyahoga8786393
Hamilton6563207
Lucas2889305
Marion274039
Montgomery237835
Summit2299209
Pickaway221641
Mahoning1907239
Butler176747
Columbiana135060
Stark1196114
Lorain109769
Trumbull103277
Warren94525
Clark79310
Delaware67515
Fairfield64317
Tuscarawas60110
Lake57022
Belmont56722
Medina56632
Licking56012
Miami50331
Portage48759
Wood47451
Clermont4537
Ashtabula44544
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3635
Allen34841
Greene3229
Mercer29510
Erie26722
Holmes2575
Darke25326
Huron2382
Madison2139
Ottawa16624
Sandusky15715
Washington14420
Coshocton1413
Ross1393
Crawford1385
Putnam13415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Athens1111
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1052
Muskingum961
Union931
Monroe8917
Hancock851
Lawrence820
Preble821
Hocking809
Clinton791
Guernsey793
Shelby744
Williams742
Logan681
Fulton660
Scioto650
Carroll643
Ashland632
Wyandot625
Brown601
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland491
Van Wert451
Perry411
Seneca402
Henry330
Paulding280
Jackson270
Pike270
Adams251
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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Breezy, Sunny Saturday
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