Fox News pitches White House's new line: “We have to live with the virus” — and more deaths

The Trump administration seems ready to roll out a new public message on the coronavirus: Americans should just accept the new rise in cases and the death figures. And Fox News figures are apparently testing out this new public relations campaign.

“The virus is with us, but we need to live with it," one administration official told NBC News last week.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the administration hopes “Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day”:

White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.

“They’re of the belief that people will get over it or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day,” said a former administration official in touch with the campaign.

Appearing on July 6 edition of Fox & Friends, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended President Donald Trump’s statement that 99% coronavirus cases are “harmless” — a claim that is tied solely to mortality rates and disregards the grueling health ordeals that many patients will have to go through.

“When you start to look at the stats and look at all the numbers that we have, the amount of testing that we have, the vast majority of people are safe from this,” Meadows said. “When you look at the deaths that we have — if you're over 80 years of age, or if you have three what they call comorbidities — diabetes, hypertension, heart issues — then you need to be very, very careful. Outside of that, the risks are extremely low, and the president’s right with that, and the facts and the statistics back us up there.”

Co-host Brian Kilmeade, who has long dismissed the COVID-19 death numbers and called for a “military mindset” to reopen even as cases increase, asked Meadows outright if the White House’s plan was now to get people to accept the virus:

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Citation From the July 6, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Is the message from the president from here on in — being that the cases are growing, and it's the state's opportunity to get it under control in Texas, Arizona and Florida — we have to live with this? We have to live with the virus, and we have to go on, and is that a change of tactic? Instead of crush the curve, now the curve’s going up, but you're not going to shut down the economy again. Is that the theme?

MARK MEADOWS (WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF): Well, we're not going to shut the economy down again. I think the theme is this -- is that we have to adjust our personal lifestyle in a temporary basis, because help is on the way. I mentioned earlier about those vaccines. Literally tens of billions of dollars, this president authorized tens of billions of dollars to make sure that we have a vaccine — not a month early, not six months early, but a year earlier than most said -- would say that it's even possible. He's willing to invest to make sure that whatever adjustment we have to make in our lifestyle is temporary. We got to get the schools open this fall. We're coming up with plans to do just that.

Later Monday morning on Fox’s America’s Newsroom, Fox Business anchor David Asman repeated the same talking point: Americans will not only have to accept more cases, but more coronavirus-related deaths.

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Citation From the July 6, 2020, edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom

DAVID ASMAN (FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR): If I could just say that the point is we’re finding ways to deal with the pandemic. And it’s not just us, by the way. China, one thing that is moving the market today is China was up 5% overnight, because they have successfully, in a lot of different ways — they see flare-ups, as we do here in the United States but they’re able to calm them down.

And all over Europe, by the way, Europe is beginning to open up. There are countries that had a terrible situation with the pandemic, but are figuring out ways to deal with it. Every state, every country seems to have their own way of dealing with it.

And yes, there are problems, and yes there will be more coronavirus flare-ups — and even deaths, and that's tragic. But at the same time, we are finding ways to deal with it, both on a national level, a state level, and a local level. And again those therapeutics are coming online, and they’re helping tremendously to bring down the death count, while we may see flare-ups in the overall number of cases.

While Asman mentioned a positive example of European countries opening up, he omitted the fact that those countries have clearly done a better job of containing the virus. Meanwhile, the United States’ numbers never went down to the European Union levels and are now just shooting back up again.

Another point about Europe’s reopening: As one of its components to maintain public health, the EU is still banning non-essential U.S. travelers.