Fox’s prime-time hosts have continued to ignore the rising U.S. death toll in the coronavirus pandemic, even as the country approaches the milestone of 150,000 officially documented deaths.
A study by Media Matters previously found that as the country was approaching the official number of 100,000 deaths, this grim fact was absent from coverage by Fox’s three prime-time hosts: Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham.
And as the country now closes in on the 150,000 number — with over 1,000 new deaths recorded just yesterday — those same three Fox hosts continue to not only ignore the rising death toll but to even deny the problem:
- On July 23, Carlson spread a conspiracy theory that the entire pandemic response and the lockdowns were part of a political conspiracy to help Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden: “Suddenly, there were no sports. Movie theaters closed, so did bowling alleys. And yet, still 40% of Americans continued to believe that their country was headed in the right direction, and that was bad news for the Joe Biden campaign. So then came the shutdowns. The CDC recommended canceling all public events with more than 50 people present. … Science had nothing to do with this.”
- On July 21, Hannity declared: “By the way, President Trump never stopped working. The pandemic is not spiraling out of control, as they projected nightly. … The situation is getting better, not worse.”
- The same day, Ingraham promoted Sweden’s response to the pandemic, which has eschewed lockdowns, as superior to the course taken in the United States — even though Sweden’s deaths from the virus are 30% worse on a per capita basis than the situation in the United States. And like Carlson, the next day she declared it was a “purely political calculation” for schools to choose to continue distance learning.
Recent polling finds that Fox News viewers are more likely to believe a conspiracy theory that the official death toll has been overstated. The reality, however, is that public health experts have long said the true coronavirus death numbers are being undercounted, a conclusion was also reaffirmed by a recent Yale University study.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database and the Nexis transcripts database for Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle for any of the terms “death” or “dying” or any variations of the terms “die” or “kill” within close proximity of any of the terms “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” “COVID,” “virus,” “pandemic,” or “outbreak” for July 20 through 23, 2020. We looked for any references to any coronavirus-related deaths for mentions of the rising national daily death rate.