Coronavirus Officials
Molly Butler / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Coronavirus task force medical officials have disappeared from cable news despite surging cases around the country

Only one medical member of the task force has appeared on weekday cable news in June

  • UPDATE 7/6/20: CNN and MSNBC, as well as CBS, have repeatedly had interview requests with coronavirus task force members denied by the Trump administration. In the period from June 23 through July 2, there has been only one additional appearance by a task force member on cable news, by Alex Azar on Fox News on June 25, while Anthony Fauci has not appeared on weekday cable news during the time frame.

    Since President Donald Trump said on May 6 that he would continue the White House coronavirus task force “indefinitely,” the task force’s medical specialists and health officials have been largely sidelined from weekday cable news interviews, making just nine appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News combined in the month and a half since the president’s declaration. Overall, appearances by task force medical personnel have fallen from 61 appearances in March to just one appearance so far in June.

  • Weekday cable news appearances by medical coronavirus task force members
  • Coronavirus cases continue to increase in the United States, with reported cases and hospitalizations surging in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida and numerous others. Despite these increases, medical experts and health officials from the White House coronavirus task force have largely been absent from weekday cable news. The task force’s regular press briefings have also stopped, as the group has not held one since April 27.

    Media Matters looked for weekday appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC of White House coronavirus task force members Surgeon General Jerome Adams; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx; Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci; Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield; Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma; and Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at HHS who until recently was also the federal official overseeing coronavirus testing efforts. 

    Together, these task force members have gone from making 61 combined weekday cable news appearances in March, to 31 appearances in April, down to 10 appearances in May, and just one appearance this month as of June 22. 

    One example of how precipitously these task force members have disappeared from the airwaves is seen in Fauci’s diminishing cable news appearances. Fauci went from 20 appearances in March, to 10 appearances in April, to three in May, and just one weekday cable news appearance so far in June. 

    Fauci last appeared on weekday cable news over 10 days ago on June 12, Azar on May 22, Verma on May 19, Birx on May 7, Giroir on April 27, Hahn on April 23, and Adams on April 17. Redfield has yet to make an appearance on weekday cable news. Though Fox News used to regularly feature the task force members, the network has had just six appearances from the medical members of the task force in May and June combined. 

    And while some of the task force members testified before Congress today, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) chastised Redfield and Hahn specifically for failing to adequately inform the public, noting, “The American people are not hearing you speak out.”

    As the coronavirus cases have been surging the Trump administration has stayed focused on its message of reopening the economy, with some officials repeatedly downplaying or misleading about the continued increase in cases. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the White House’s own medical experts and health officials have been sidelined from cable news as the Trump administration and the president’s reelection campaign attempt to pretend the coronavirus is a thing of the past.

  • Methodology

    Media Matters searched our internal database for appearances by the medical members of the coronavirus task force -- Jerome Adams, Alex Azar, Deborah Birx, Anthony Fauci, Stephen Hahn, Robert Redfield, Seema Verma, and Brett Giroir -- from January 29, when the task force was formed, through June 22, 2020. The database includes cable news programming on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday. Only original programming is included.