On January 27, Fox News’ Fox & Friends ran two segments promoting what the network called “a Chinese nurse … blowing the whistle on Twitter” and claimed the coronavirus infection rate is “33 times [higher than] what Chinese officials are reporting.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade, in an interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz, said that the outbreak is “happening in this secretive society where candor is secondary, and we’re seeing clues that this is so much worse.”
On “straight news” program America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Sandra Smith used the unverified video as an example of “growing concern over whether enough is being done to contain the virus.”
None of the three Fox segments featuring the viral video noted that it is entirely unsourced. It was originally posted to Twitter by an account known for spreading unverified information in breaking news environments.
Jane Lytvynenko, a reporter for BuzzFeed News who regularly tracks the spread of disinformation online, flagged the video on January 24, saying, “I’m unclear on whether it’s genuine, however, I’ve previously tweeted about how the account is unreliable and doesn’t cite its sources.” In a January 24 Buzzfeed News article about coronavirus hoaxes, the account that originally uploaded the video to Twitter was specifically featured in a section warning about “fear-mongering with unsourced information.” On January 27, Lytvynenko posted about the video again, noting several apparent inconsistencies with the alleged nurse’s outfit and those of actual first responders.
The account that Fox News obtained the video from has also pushed other coronavirus misinformation, claiming that videos of people fainting in the streets are signs of the virus’ effects -- even though fainting is not a symptom of coronavirus.
Despite the unreliability of the source that Fox News ran with to fearmonger about the outbreak in China, Fox’s News Corp.-owned sister outlet the New York Post also posted a credulous article about the sensationalist video, not mentioning the credibility issues with it.