Since October 14, Fox News has dedicated over three times as much coverage to the New York Post’s story on the laptop hard drive of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, than to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the times the network did cover the coronavirus, it largely ignored the latest surge in coronavirus cases around the country (and at times mocked other networks for covering the surge), instead often focusing on praising President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic and openly criticizing public health measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus.
New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have surged in many areas across the country. Since last week, states have seen coronavirus-related cases jump 18% and deaths increase about 3%. Wisconsin in particular has been hit hard by the recent surge, with rural counties in the northeast part of the state dealing with an “uncontrolled spread” of the virus. But Fox has largely ignored these facts in its limited coverage.
Instead, the network has obsessed over dubious revelations published in the New York Post concerning a hard drive containing allegedly scandalous emails from and images of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Fox has attempted to tie the story to its extended smear campaign of Joe Biden’s handling of Ukraine during his time as vice president. It also has re-upped long-debunked claims of anti-conservative bias from “big tech” in response to Twitter's efforts to halt initial shares of the New York Post story.
Media Matters looked at all Fox original programming from October 14, when the New York Post story about Hunter Biden was published, through noon EDT October 16. In that time period, Fox spent 6 hours and 42 minutes (in over 100 segments) on the Hunter Biden story, compared to just 1 hour and 47 minutes (in just 46 segments) on various topics about the coronavirus pandemic.
Even when they were discussing the coronavirus, Fox figures often didn’t focus on the current surge. Instead, they touted Trump’s claim that the country was “rounding the turn,” presented misleading information on the coronavirus, mocked the Democratic presidential ticket’s caution when it comes to the pandemic, and consistently criticized public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.
Host Laura Ingraham did a lengthy opening segment titled “Biden & the COVID experts exposed” in which she advocated against the coronavirus lockdowns and mocked CNN’s coverage of the new surge, claiming the network was “pushing the panic button.” Host Tucker Carlson continued to misinform his viewers about the efficacy of wearing masks, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had responded to a prior segment by saying it was “misleading.” Fox & Friends mocked Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for attending the Senate judiciary hearing on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett via Skype but still using an elevator, with co-host Brian Kilmeade sarcastically remarking, “I hope she survives.”
Fox has frequently downplayed the dangers of COVID-19, spread misinformation about it, and complained about health measures to control its spread, often devoting significantly less coverage to the pandemic than its cable news counterparts. As the United States faces another wave, Fox is once again doing its viewers a disservice by failing to give them important information about the pandemic.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for any of the terms “Hunter,” “Biden,” “Bo,” “Beau,” or “Joe” within close proximity of “New York Post,” “The Post,” “Laptop,” “E-Mail,” “Burisma,” “Pozharskyi,” “MacBook,” “Computer," "Shokin,” “Archer,” “Zlochevsky,” “Mesires,” or “Costello,” as well as any variation of “Ukraine,” on Fox News Channel from 6 a.m. EDT on October 14 through noon on October 16.
We searched transcripts in the Snapstream video database for any of the terms “coronavirus,” “Covid,” “virus,” “Covid-19,” “Pandemic,” or “Outbreak” on Fox News Channel from 6 a.m. EDT on October 14 through noon on October 16.
We included full segments on each of these stories, which we defined as instances when the story was the stated topic of discussion or there was “significant discussion” of it, which we defined as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed it. We timed only the relevant portions of multitopic segments. We excluded passing mentions as well as teasers for upcoming segments.