Fox News couldn't pass up an opportunity to use coronavirus to attack homeless people and California

As the number of people affected by coronavirus increases in the United States, some on Fox News are using the virus’s presence in Democrat-led states like Washington and California to attack homeless populations there, arguing that homeless people undermine Democrats’ capabilities to handle the virus and suggesting that it’s is a good reason to enforce more punitive measures aimed at criminalizing homelessness. 

This angle of attack is unsurprising, as Fox News has spent months demonizing the homeless and using homelessness as a bludgeon to attack Democratic politicians, the cities they lead, and various Democratic policies.  

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, in December. Since then, it has swiftly spread across the world, resulting in over 3,200 deaths globally so far, over 93,000 cases, and a stock market plunge. As of Wednesday, almost 130 people in 16 states in the United States have been affected, as the race continues to test more people experiencing symptoms . 

Some on Fox News -- particularly prime-time host Tucker Carlson, who has a history of grotesquely obsessing over homelessness in blue states -- are now using the issue of homelessness to attack Democrats’ response to the coronavirus, arguing that the homelessness crisis proves Democrats can’t handle the fallout from the disease and expressing disgust at the thought of homeless encampments existing during a pandemic. 

Fox’s focus on driving a homelessness angle in its coronavirus coverage is particularly concerning given President Donald Trump’s history of responding to cues from Fox News on policy issues including homelessness. 

  • On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson hosted Jason Rantz, a radio show host in Seattle who has made a habit out of attacking homeless people in the wake of coronavirus. Rantz fearmongered that homeless people could be “spreading” the coronavirus “at a higher than normal rate,” because they are “jumping on buses, because they can ride for free, they are going to public restrooms, they are going into public libraries, and there is a possibility that they are spreading it at a higher than normal rate.” (Rantz didn’t offer any evidence to support this theory.) Carlson snidely responded that he’s “not Marie Curie here, but you are saying that if you've got thousands of people defecating on the sidewalk, that could pose a public health risk?” Rantz complained that people on Twitter are calling him a fascist because he thinks that homeless people should be quarantined “if they’re sick. And if they’re not sick, doesn’t matter, I want to get them actual help,” he said, claiming his concern for homeless people is to get them “running water.”  
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Citation From the March 3, 2020, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight 

  • On Hannity, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich criticized San Francisco for responding to coronavirus in “its usual irresponsible way,” noting that  it “has already declared an emergency” even though no one has tested positive there so far, and he emphasized the homeless population, asking “how are you going to quarantine them?” 

  • On The Five, co-host Emily Compagno said “every network should be covering” the “homeless explosions” and “rat population explosion” on Los Angeles’ skid row as much as they’re covering coronavirus because they’ll spread the virus. 

  • On Outnumbered, Fox Business anchor David Asman questioned Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ability to handle coronavirus because of his “record on public hygiene,” adding that Newsom “lecturing people about public hygiene seems a bit hypocritical to me.” 

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Citation From the February 28, 2020, edition of Fox News' Outnumbered 

  • On Outnumbered, co-host Harris Faulkner directed a conversation about coronavirus to homelessness, saying it “has become a political issue for some of the leaders in California, but if they are going to get to coronavirus to get to that, I'm actually OK with that.” Co-host Dagen McDowell added that parts of San Francisco are “essentially an open sewer” and “it’s only gotten worse, and they’ve done nothing.”