Trump has Covid-19: How Fox News infected America

Merchants of death

I don’t normally write four times a week, but during this chaotic campaign sometimes it’s called for. Today is one of those times.

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News that Trump and first lady Melania have tested positive for the coronavirus means our national health emergency has taken an extraordinary turn. “If he becomes sick, it could raise questions about whether he should remain on the ballot at all,” the New York Times reported early Friday morning.

After months of purposefully downplaying the pandemic, mocking the idea of wearing masks, and waging war on scientists fighting the public health crisis, Trump instantly becomes the world’s most famous Covid-19 patient.

And Fox News made him sick.

For months, Fox has pumped poisonous, anti-science rhetoric into the airwaves, ensuring a sizeable portion of the population, including Trump, will refuse to do its part to help America heal. Fox has worked hard to divide the country and make it impossible to have a common sense conversation in times of crisis.  

For nearly two decades, Fox News has been depicted by mainstream media as strictly a partisan vehicle. Refusing to address the long lasting damage that right-wing propaganda does to our democracy, Fox News has been presented as mostly a problem for Democrats. But now it's moved into the sphere of public health and the consequences are predictably disastrous as the cable channels fuels a torrent of lies about the virus.

It got to the point where Surgeon General Jerome Adams had to go on Fox News and beseech its viewers, "I'm begging you, please understand that we are not trying to take away your freedoms when we say wear a face covering." But it’s too late to beg for common sense since Fox News has programmed its viewers to refuse pandemic masks.

During a single week in July, Fox News politicized wearing face masks more than 60 times, according to Media Matters. One recent study found that localities with higher Fox News viewership people were less likely to wear masks. The results are predictably harmful for the country's health.



Trump and Fox News act as mindless sounding boards for one another, each bouncing off lies and misinformation that sound pleasing to the irresponsible ear. Thanks to Trump’s dangerous behavior, along with his age and poor physical condition, he was always a strong candidate to become infected with the virus. But even more so, considering he likely watches Fox News more than one hundred hours each month and has been polluted by the network’s blatant public health disinformation about how the pandemic is a hoax and a "Deep State" plot by Democrats to take down Trump.

That has certainly emboldened Trump’s perilous behavior. It’s been dangerous to the country for more half a year, as Trump has done everything possible to make the pandemic worse, while the death toll marches towards 250,000 in the U.S., and the economy remains ruined. And now it’s proving dangerous to Trump, his family, and his staff.

Would Trump act as irresponsibly without Fox News to amplify his lies? Probably. Did knowing that the most-watched cable “news” channel in America was eager to join his anti-science crusade help fortify Trump’s lies? Did it encourage him to mislead the American public at nearly every turn of this crisis? It certainly did.

There’s simply no way this country would be facing the dire situation it currently does if Fox News hadn’t spent the last seven months formenting fear and lying about the pandemic, all in the name of partisan revenue.

Fox's viewers skew older. According to Nielsen Media Research, the median age of a Fox News viewer is 67, while the Centers for Disease Control has stressed that "older adults" are "at higher risk of getting very sick" from the coronavirus. But that hasn’t stopped the network from championing reckless misinformation and likely getting thousands of its own viewers killed this year.

“Study Finds More COVID-19 Cases Among Viewers Of Fox News Host Who Downplayed Pandemic,” read the National Public Radio headline last May. That situation has likely only worsened as the pandemic ravages red states.

And now Trump has the coronavirus.

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The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer remains one of my favorite journalists, and her latest is a must read: “The Secret History of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Departure from Fox.”

And yes, these people are exactly as you’d imagine. In this case, it’s allegations from Guilfoyle’s former assistant that the Fox talker sexually harassed her, and then tried to cover it up:

In July, 2016, the network had hired the New York-based law firm Paul, Weiss to investigate sexual misconduct at the company, which, under the leadership of Roger Ailes, had a long history of flagrant harassment and gender discrimination. According to those familiar with the assistant’s draft complaint, during a phone call on August 6, 2017, she alleged that Guilfoyle tried to buy her silence, offering to arrange a payment to her if she agreed to lie to the Paul, Weiss lawyers about her experiences…The assistant alleged that Guilfoyle mentioned sums as large as a million dollars, and also other inducements, including a private-plane ride to Rome, a percentage of Guilfoyle’s future speaking fees, and an on-air reporting opportunity.

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Blue Mountain, “Jimmy Carter”

Yesterday was Carter’s 96th birthday. Not only is he the only U.S. president who has a roots rock song written about him, he has had a great roots rock song written about him.

From Mississippi’s beloved Blue Mountain:

There was joy throughout the nation,
at that great inauguration,
the GOP stood shakin’ in their shoes.
Serenaded by Willie, and toasted by Billy,
this president with honest peanut roots.