On July 9, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy read a partial list from the Texas Medical Association of common activities ranked from least risky to most risky for contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The activities Doocy read out as having the “highest risk” -- but did not discuss further -- included “working out at a gym,” even though Fox & Friends has consistently advocated for reopening gyms -- as recently as yesterday. And later in the morning, Fox Business hosted a gym owner who claimed gyms are “not the problem” in the spread of COVID-19.
In May, as part of a broader crusade against lockdown orders, the network fed into a frenzy centered on Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, which promised to reopen for business despite the state’s lockdown order. Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth reported live from the scene for multiple Fox shows, hyping the possibility that he would record a confrontation between the owner and the state police, which did not happen. Hegseth stressed that reopening gyms is “all about freedom, it’s all about choice” and that gyms such as Atilis could safely reopen because people “believe they can [work out] very responsibly” with safety protocols like mandatory masks (which Hegseth was initially not wearing as he reported from inside the gym). This made-for-TV drama is just a small sample of Fox & Friends’ obsessive gym reopening coverage, both before May and since then.
As recently as July 8 -- yesterday -- Fox & Friends was still giving glowing coverage to gyms trying to reopen despite pandemic concerns. The show hosted a New York gym owner and his attorney for “fighting back” against the lockdown with a class-action lawsuit seeking either permission to reopen despite pandemic guidelines or a financial settlement from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Co-host Brian Kilmeade said, “I hope you guys win, I know you are prepared to open.”
However, on July 9, Doocy passively remarked that, according to the Texas Medical Association, “working out at a gym” is one of the “most risky” activities one can do during the pandemic. Even though -- or perhaps because -- this was in direct contradiction to weeks of Fox & Friends’ coverage, Doocy and his guest Dr. Mehmet Oz simply moved on from that uncomfortable detail. Instead Oz concluded that listing the riskiest activities can empower people to make their own decisions “without having to take whatever’s thrown at you as a mandate.”
Later on July 9, Fox Business' Varney & Co. hosted Adam Zeitsiff, the president and CEO of Gold's Gym, to assert that “gyms are not the problem when it comes to the spread of the virus," and it's time for them to reopen. There was no pushback.