Amid coronavirus fears, Fox News tries its best to blame Bernie Sanders and socialism for the stock market downturn

As the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, the stock market has reacted strongly, with the S&P 500’s drop wiping out $3.4 trillion in market value in one week. As President Donald Trump bumbles his way through the crisis and desperation rises among his administration officials to maintain a consistently strong economy ahead of the presidential election, Fox News figures are desperately pushing the blame for the falling stock market onto presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and his surge in the Democratic primaries.  

The stock market tumbled this week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,190 points and the S&P 500 fell 4.42% in one day. It’s widely accepted that the coronavirus outbreak is the reason behind the stock market drop, though a handful of investors have tried to blame Sanders. But as The New York Times explained, the market “sell-off is fueled mostly by worry that measures to contain the virus would hamper corporate profits and economic growth, and fears that the outbreak could get worse.” According to CNBC, people can “expect market volatility to stay elevated as investors get more information on the coronavirus.” The Washington Post explained the impact that coronavirus has had on markets worldwide: “The medical emergency already has disrupted global production networks, curtailed air travel and hobbled economies in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.” 

Fox News is scrambling to downplay the impact of the stock market downturn, as analysts and even U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have indicated that a strong economy will help Trump win reelection in November. As a result, Fox and Trump have started to partially blame the stock market downturn on Sanders’ rise -- despite the lack of supporting evidence and the general consensus that the fall is being driven by coronavirus fears -- and arguing that the democratic socialist candidate is scaring the markets. 

  • On Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulkner, Fox Business host Charles Payne argued that the market “started going down when [Sanders] became the clear favorite in all the betting areas, in all of the polls, when he started to take off.” Payne concluded that “people are worried, they’re worried.”
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Citation From the February 27, 2020, edition of Fox News' Outnumbered Overtime

  • On Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney addressed the stock market plunge, saying that “Bernie Sanders scares investors half to death. Socialism is an economy killer, it's a stock market killer, and Bernie Sanders is now the front-runner.” Though Varney acknowledged that the coronavirus is the main factor in the market’s downturn, he also blamed the Democrats -- especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) -- for “drumming up some panic which actually encourages the downside move for the market.”  

  • On Outnumbered, co-host Melissa Francis said that the stock market is “absolutely going down because Bernie Sanders is leading on the Democratic side.” Francis declared that Sanders’ popularity “is one of the main factors” behind the market sell-off before addressing coronavirus’ role.

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Citation From the February 27, 2020, edition of Fox News' Outnumbered

  • On Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News contributor Stephen Moore said that there is “a bit of a Bernie Sanders factor” in the market’s reaction. Anchor Neil Cavuto pressed further, asking Moore, “You don’t really think this is Sen. Sanders inspired, do you?” Moore attempted to walk back his comment, saying, “I’m just saying this is a part of the picture, you know, that these things happened over the weekend,” then reversing his claim, declaring, “It is no question this is the virus.” 

  • On Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, Fox News contributor Liz Peek said that “a lot of people thought” the market sell-off was “partly Bernie Sanders.” 

  • On America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Ed Henry asked Payne, “Is the sell-off all coronavirus or is this the first time the markets are open since Bernie Sanders took control of the Democratic battle?” Payne responded, “The Bernie factor is finally rearing its head in the stock market.” When co-anchor Sandra Smith asked if Payne can “directly attribute” the sell-off to Bernie, Payne responded, “Absolutely.” 

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Citation From the February 24, 2020, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom