March 14, 2020

In the critical early weeks, the conservative media's top-paid mouthhavers responded to the outbreak of a new potential pandemic in the usual, now-rote way. The thought of a new deadly virus touching down in America was deemed to be possibly a hoax, intended to damage Donald Trump by intentionally harming the national economy. The coronavirus was thought to be a foreign bio-weapon, not because there was even a stitch of evidence but because much of the movement is now so wrapped around conspiracy theories that they can no longer view any news event except through that lens. The virus was thought to be an exaggeration peddled by Democrats and Dear Leader's other enemies to make Dear Leader look weak.

The result is the expected one: Americans who follow conservative news sources are now far less likely to take the warnings of public officials seriously. The drive to insist on Dear Leader's brilliance will now be killing people, potentially in great numbers, and you can give Fox News and other conservative crank outlets the blame.

New polling (conducted before Trump's Wednesday speech) shows that 58% of Democrats believe coronavirus will become a pandemic. Only 28% of Republicans do. 55% of Democrats believe more than 1,000 Americans will die from the virus; for Republicans, it's 34%. 58% of Republicans claim the threat of the virus is being "exaggerated"; for Democrats, it’s 29%.

One day later, most major sports leagues are putting their seasons on hold, Broadway shows are shuttered, conventions are being postponed, schools and universities are closing, and the numbers of infected Americans continue to rise, likely far slower than a "true" count would show because even now this nation cannot test more than handfuls of suspected cases. In Ohio, the Health Department director warns that community spread analysis indicates 1% of Ohio's residents may now be carrying the virus.

There has never been any accountability for the conspiracy pushers of Fox News, no matter how much damage their malevolent bending of facts to benefit their own ideological interests does. There will likely be none this time either; if they suffer damage, it will only be due to falling advertising rates as their most loyal viewers ignore coronavirus precautions, on their say-so, and die.

Meanwhile, Fox News itself will now be reducing staffing levels in network offices and "instituting telecommuting starting Monday" in response to the virus' very real threat.

For weeks, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld attacked those that warned of the failing U.S. response, saying "the Times and CNN can't be trusted on any topic" and boasting that Trump's "feistiness will not slow our country's great ability to handle this threat."

The Greg Gutfeld Show will now be broadcasting without a live audience, after Fox News executives barred that audience from the building.

As is also now rote for the conservative movement, the perpetually sketchy Media Research Center has been insisting that virus fears are being overblown in an attempt to damage Trump—while partnering with advertisers to sell a scammy-sounding "financial planning guide" to conservative subscribers under the pretense that the government intended to use the crisis to wipe out their retirement savings.

It will unfortunately not be up to us to enforce consequences for the widespread disinformation campaign that has been peddled to the American public by Fox News, richly-paid and now wealthy Fox News hosts, and the wide, greasy underbelly of the conservative conspiracy movement. That is on their own conservative audiences. They will have to realize who has lied to them and who has not, and assign blame, and get angry, and seek punishments.

In the meantime, social distancing may mean avoiding not just crowds, but Fox News viewers. If that identifiable segment of the population is not taking the threat of the virus seriously even now, due to the blustering of wealthy, pompous hosts who don't give a particular damn which of their own audience members are put at risk by their false information, "conservative" becomes a disease vector.

That is not an exaggeration. You know it, and I know it.

Posted with permission from Daily Kos.

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