Fox News pivoted its stance on the public health threat posed by Ebola after leading the charge in media stoking fears about the disease in the weeks prior to the midterm elections. The network is now downplaying the urgency of increasing funding for Ebola research and relief efforts while criticizing President Obama's request of a multi-billion dollar Ebola emergency appropriation from Congress.
President Obama Requested $6.2 Billion Emergency Funds For Ebola Research And Relief
President Obama Requested More Than $6 Billion In Emergency Funding To Fight Ebola At Home And Abroad. According to a November 5 article in The Washington Post, President Obama sent a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Election Day requesting a congressional appropriation of emergency funding to contain the Ebola outbreak in Africa, secure the United States against future outbreaks, and speed up the development of vaccines and other treatments for the disease:
The request asks for $4.6 billion immediately and an additional $1.54 billion as a contingency fund in case the epidemic worsens. The administration's request includes $2.43 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And $1.98 billion would go to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead agency for the U.S. response in West Africa.
The State Department would get $127 million to help with medical support and evacuation of workers overseas. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, would get $112 million for developing new technologies that could be used to treat Ebola and other infectious diseases until a vaccine can be developed.
Among other objectives, the emergency money would fund the creation of 50 Ebola treatment centers in the United States and buy personal protective equipment for health-care workers. It would also boost screening at airports and borders. [The Washington Post, 11/5/14]
After The Midterms, Fox News And Betsy McCaughey Question Whether Ebola Should Be A Focus
Fox's Peter Johnson, Jr.: Is The Ebola Crisis “Worthy Of All That Money Being Shipped Overseas?” During the November 7 episode of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox contributor Peter Johnson, Jr. hosted an interview with Betsy McCaughey in which they criticized President Obama's request for emergency funds to fight Ebola:
JOHNSON: President Obama asking congress for $6.2 billion in emergency funds to help fight Ebola in West Africa. But is this crisis worthy of all that money being shipped overseas? Would it be better spent on deadly diseases threatening Americans right here at home right now?
MCCAUGHEY: It's totally out of proportion, Peter. Five thousand people have died from Ebola. No Americans. Three hundred and sixty thousand Americans die from cancer every year. The president wants to spend a hundred times as much, per Ebola victim, as per cancer victim. That tells you what's going on here. [Fox News Channel, Fox & Friends, 11/7/14]
Betsy McCaughey: “The President May Be Exploiting” The “Man-Made” Sense Of Danger. During the same segment, Betsy McCaughey argued that President Obama is exploiting the so-called “sense of danger” in the U.S. caused by Ebola, which she called “a man-made problem.” She went on to blame the World Health Organization and the White House for the spread of Ebola and reiterated calls for “travel restrictions” to and from West Africa:
MCCAUGHEY: The president may be exploiting the sense of danger right here in the United States. But the fact is, here in the U.S., the sense of Ebola as a danger is a man-made crisis. All previous Ebola outbreaks were confined to one continent, Africa. This virus does not have wings. But the World Health Organization and the White House are giving it wings, airplane wings, allowing it to spread to North America, Europe, Australia, other continents of the world. [Fox News Channel, Fox & Friends, 11/7/14]
Before The Midterms, Fox News Gave McCaughey A Platform To Amplify The Ebola Crisis
Your World: Money To Fight Ebola “Could Be Much More Wisely Spent Overseas.” While appearing on Fox News' Your World on October 9, McCaughey advocated for sending money overseas to fight Ebola, rather than spending the money here in the United States (emphasis added):
MCCAUGHEY: Let's discuss also the preparations that are being undergone now in cities all across this country, especially in the five airport hubs, such as Chicago and New York, to prepare hospitals, to prepare transportation workers, to prepare EMS, first responders. Hundreds of millions of dollars preparing them in case there's an Ebola case here in the United States again. When in fact that money could be much more wisely spent overseas. [Fox News Channel, Your World with Neil Cavuto, via Media Matters 10/9/14]
Hannity: Obama Is Misleading The Country About The Possible Spread Of Ebola. While appearing on a “panel of medical experts” during the October 15 episode of Fox News' Hannity, McCaughey accused President Obama of lying to the American people about Ebola. She went on to criticize Obama for saying that an Ebola outbreak was unlikely:
HANNITY: What the president said earlier, in the unlikely event it gets here. He said the chances are low for an outbreak. And then of course, the head of the CDC, Dr. Frieden, he went out there and said, oh you don't need a special room, you just need a private room with a private bathroom.
MCCAUGHEY: Listen to the weasel words both of them used. Frieden said early on, there won't be a wide spread, he said a spread will not be likely, right? And tonight the president said, well, there may be more cases but it won't spread widely. Well what do they mean by that weasel word “widely,” how many deaths are acceptable? One, two, 10? It's unacceptable for Americans to die from Ebola. [Fox News Channel, Hannity, 10/15/14]
Fox News Helped Hype Fears About Ebola Prior To The Elections
Fox's Peter Johnson, Jr. Suggested The Federal Government Is Holding Back Ebola Treatments. While discussing the shortage of the Ebola treatment drug ZMapp on the October 7 edition of Fox & Friends, Johnson suggested the shortage was “a poor example of federal government intervention” and blamed the federal grant structure for limiting production of the drug. [Media Matters, 10/7/14]
Fox's Dr. Ben Carson Stoked Fears That Someone Could Pay A Lab Worker $1 Million For Ebola-Tainted Urine. Appearing on Fox News' Your World, Fox contributor Dr. Ben Carson was featured in a segment on Ebola in August and warned, “we have to guard against worse-case scenarios” such as a lab worker selling Ebola-tainted urine. [Media Matters, 8/6/14]