Fox has undermined public health measures in over 1,000 coronavirus segments since September 1
The network challenged and criticized health guidelines in nearly 400 segments on “straight news” shows and more than 600 segments on opinion shows
As new U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising and local municipalities across the country are implementing tougher guidelines designed to stop the spread of the disease, Fox News has continued to air grievances that undermine, challenge, or criticize the validity of such public health measures.
Media Matters reviewed all coronavirus-related segments that aired on Fox News over a three-month period, September 1 through November 30, and found 1,001 segments that included at least one instance of a Fox News personality or guest undermining any health measure. The criticisms included describing health measures as unconstitutional or unlawful; highlighting persons, groups, or organizations actively fighting against any health measure; and accusing progressive politicians or activists of hypocrisy regarding the enforcement of, or adherence to, any health measure.
Of the 1,001 coronavirus-related segments that included such instances, 374 aired on Fox’s “straight news” shows while 627 aired on the network’s opinion shows.
The top “straight news” shows to air coronavirus-related segments with such comments were America’s Newsroom with 114 segments, Fox News @ Night with 40, and The Story with 36.
The top opinion shows to air such segments were Fox & Friends -- including its early morning and weekend editions -- with 299 such segments, The Ingraham Angle with 102, and Tucker Carlson Tonight with 82.
In fact, there was not a single day in the study period when Fox did not undermine a public health measure. And as mid-November reports showed states and counties preparing to implement additional measures amid worrisome numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, Fox renewed its dedication to challenge or criticize the new efforts with record numbers of segments.
Previously, Media Matters showed that Fox aired far more coronavirus-related segments that included comments undermining public health measures than the network reported on the national death toll from the disease. And as another study has shown, there have been more coronavirus cases among Fox viewers who watched shows that regularly downplayed the virus. Fox continuing its pattern of coverage in the wake of record-high numbers of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths demonstrates just how reckless it has been with its coronavirus reporting.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “coronavirus,” “COVID,” “COVID-19,” “virus,” or “pandemic” from September 1 through November 30, 2020.
We reviewed segments about any coronavirus-related issue, which we defined as instances when any coronavirus-related issue was the stated topic of discussion or when two or more speakers in a multi-topic segment discussed any coronavirus-related issue with one another. We excluded teasers for upcoming segments, passing mentions of coronavirus-related issues in segments about other topics, and coverage of live events that touched on any coronavirus-related issue.
Within these segments, we then determined whether any Fox News personality or guest undermined any health measure -- social distancing guidelines, face masks, or restrictions on indoor activities or gatherings -- designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This included instances describing health measures as unconstitutional or unlawful; highlighting persons, groups, or organizations actively fighting against any health measure; or accusing progressive politicians or activists of hypocrisy regarding the enforcement of or adherence to any health measure.
We split Fox programs into “news” and “opinion” sides. We defined “news” programs as those with anchors, such as Bret Baier or Shannon Bream, while we defined “opinion” programs as those with hosts, such as Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, at the helm. We used the designations from each anchor’s or host’s FoxNews.com author page. We also considered the format of the program; we defined those using a panel format, such as Outnumbered and The Five, as “opinion.”