During an on-air chat with his shadow chief-of-staff -- Republican operative and Fox News host Sean Hannity -- President Donald Trump sent the message to audiences that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is no big deal, downplayed the World Health Organization’s estimate of the death rate of the virus based on his “hunch,” and even implyed it’s OK for people who have contracted the virus to go to work.
Hannity challenged him on none of this. Moreover, reporting on the discussion hours later, Fox “straight news” anchor Shannon Bream instead portrayed Trump’s comments as though he was just rebuking mainstream media.
Here’s this discussion between Hannity and Trump on the coronavirus:
The 3.4% death rate for coronavirus may well be too high, based on expert assessments -- not “hunches.” But that’s not to say that the virus isn’t a serious problem; it’s too early to make this comparison writ large, but the Spanish flu killed millions and had a greater than 2.5% death rate, per the CDC.
Trump’s words are not only “at odds with what health experts are saying,” but he’s also contradicting what members of his own administration are saying about staying home if you are sick. (Trump is now trying to distance himself from his own remarks about staying home.)
Yet that basic reality about the severity of this virus isn’t reflected at Fox News. People at Fox frequently talk about the differences between the news division and opinion hosts like Sean Hannity. But just over an hour after Trump’s interview, Fox “straight news” anchor Shannon Bream portrayed Trump’s remarks to Hannity as a rebuke of mainstream media. She then interviewed Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), who downplayed the virus: