In an interview with ABC anchor David Muir, President Donald Trump repeated Fox News talking points about coronavirus models. This was his first broadcast network television interview since he spoke to NBC's Chuck Todd in June 2019.
Fox News personalities have been using the wide array of COVID-19 models and projections to cast doubt on all modeling predicting the number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths. In response to rising projections of COVID-19 deaths in the country -- and seizing on confusion about the number of the models, what they mean, and which ones are used by whom -- Fox figures are downplaying the accuracy of models in general, calling them “a bit of a crapshoot,” and dismissing their predictions since “we don’t factor in human ingenuity.”
In his interview on ABC World News Tonight, Trump directly echoed that language:
In the interview, Trump repeated his mischaracterization of the models from earlier in the day, wrongly saying that they assume “no mitigation.” In fact, as Vox noted, the models “are based on the relaxation of social distancing that Trump has been championing.” Muir did not note this.
Here's how Fox figures have talked about coronavirus models in recent days
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld: “That's the amazing thing about how climate models and disease models can never predict much, because we don't factor in human ingenuity.”
Neil Cavuto, Fox News senior vice president, anchor, and managing editor of business news: The variance in projection models “just seems to me to be a bit of a crapshoot here.”
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade: “One thing is pretty certain: The models that we have been told to deal with have consistently been wrong, on the plus side and the negative side.”
Fox News anchor Ed Henry: “The question seems to be, can we -- nobody is perfect, but can we trust this model when it keeps bouncing around like this?"
Ed Henry again: “There’s all these models. … I think the bottom line is, people are wondering, are these models that seem very confusing and all over the place, that’s what’s being used to decide whether or not people remain on lockdown, and that’s getting some people frustrated.”
Fox News prime-time host Laura Ingraham: “About all of those bad models: The experts were all over the place in projecting the virus’s lethality. … If you’re not confused yet, now they’re saying that 120, 134,000 could die from COVID by August. What? That’s double what they were saying a few weeks ago.”
Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone: It “makes sense” for the White House to disagree with the projection showing 3,000 daily COVID-19 deaths because models have been “all over the place.”
Fox hosts aren’t alone in their nihilistic quest to undermine models. Conspiracy theorist Rush Limbaugh, whom Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February, has repeatedly argued against all scientific models, once claiming, “The bias I have against modeling is justified, because it comes from climate change.”