Fox News makes trading coronavirus deaths for the economy sound like option “in the middle”

Prediction models for the new coronavirus say that an uncontained spread in the United States could mean over 1 million or even more than 2 million deaths as the health care system becomes overwhelmed.

Undaunted, Fox News personalities have plowed ahead in recent days in adopting a position that “the cure is worse than the disease” when it comes to locking down the economy in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus — as if a decline in the stock market and the need for large government rescue packages are worse than the prospect of mass death and suffering. (It is unclear and unsaid how the economy could even function with social distancing while tens of millions of Americans get grievously ill, and millions of them die.)

Now, they’re presenting the idea of letting the virus running rampant in order to keep businesses going — and the deaths that would result — as somehow being a compromise position.

On the Monday night edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the eponymous host kicked things off by contrasting the epidemiologists and the economists as two rival groups with differing perspectives — and of course, we ought not listen too much to one or the other.

“But, the truth is you can't just let epidemiologists run a country of 320 million people just as you would never turn America over to a team of economists,” Carlson said. “Not because they are bad people, they are mostly good people, but they are specialists and their range of vision is too narrow.”

Next up in the program, Carlson hosted Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who put forward his own modest proposal that older people like himself — he will turn 70 years old next week, and is a grandfather of six — should be willing to risk their own lives to restore the American economy for their grandchildren.

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Citation From the March 23, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight

LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): And you know, Tucker, no one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?

And if that's the exchange, I'm all in. And that doesn't make me noble or brave or anything like that. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me, I have six grandchildren, that what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children.

And I want to, you know, live smart and see through this, but I don't want the whole country to be sacrificed. And that's what I see. I've talked to hundreds of people, Tucker, in just in the last week and are making calls all the time and everyone says pretty much the same thing, that we can't lose our whole country.

We're having an economic collapse. I'm also a small businessman, I understand it. And I talk with business people all the time, Tucker and I'm so just — my heart is lifted tonight, by what I heard the President say, because we can do more than one thing at a time, we can do two things.

So, you know, my message is that, let's get back to work. Let's get back to living. Let's be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we'll take care of ourselves, but don't sacrifice the country. Don't do that. Don't ruin this great American dream.

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): So you're basically saying that this disease could take your life, but that's not the scariest thing to you. There's something that would be worse than dying.


Closing out the interview, Carlson told Patrick: “I'm grateful you came on tonight. We needed to hear that perspective, also because it's a conversation we should have.”

And then Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade and Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel also presented these ideas as constituting a middle path:

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Citation From the March 24, 2020, edition of of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): The president indicated yesterday that he is looking to get our economy back and after 15 days he is reevaluating. Do you think it's premature to think about pulling off the stay-at-home ruling that's really prevalent throughout this country now for 100 million Americans? 

DR. MARC SIEGEL (FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT): Brian, I think I would look at it this way. As we are testing more and more and more Americans, we are figuring out where the epicenters really are, where the hot spots really are. Like New York, we are right in the heart of it. Areas like that, you certainly want people to stay at home, shelter in place. Avoid large gatherings. But, you know, what if there are no cases in certain states? What if it's very low? Maybe there is a way to test, to target, to isolate and then to have more moderate ways of approaching it in areas that aren't yet affected. And then, of course, restrict travel from one area that has a lot of it to one that doesn't. I think that's a more practical approach, because otherwise the economy gets in worse and worse shape. So I like that the president is looking at this. 

KILMEADE: Right. You have a lot of people. You have economists on one side, health officials on the other. Maybe the right thing is in the middle. Dr. Marc Siegel —

SIEGEL: Do both, yeah.

And this line of thinking is continuing into Fox’s purported “news”-side coverage, with anchor Ed Henry asking a medical expert: “Now, every life matters and you don't want to minimize any of them, but when the mortality rate is that low, what is the balance?”