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.