Forty-five percent of people who frequently watch Fox News say that fewer Americans have been killed by the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 than the official count indicates, according to a new poll.
Fox personalities and other conservative media figures have tried to defend President Donald Trump from criticism that he botched the federal response to the coronavirus by offering the ghoulish and absurd argument that the COVID-19 death toll is “inflated” because it includes people who died with preexisting conditions shared by many Americans.
In fact, the official figure -- which currently stands at more than 22,000 U.S. deaths -- is almost certainly an undercount. It does not include many cases, particularly home-deaths, involving people who likely died of the virus but were never tested.
Forty-two percent of respondents say that more people have died from coronavirus than the official count, according to a new Daily Kos/Civiqs poll conducted April 11-14. By contrast, 24% say that fewer have died than the official count, and only 16% say the official count is accurate.
Those numbers change dramatically, however, depending on how much Fox the respondents say they watch.
Forty-five percent of respondents who watch Fox frequently say that fewer people have died of the coronavirus than the official count, 23% of respondents say the count is accurate, and only 12% say that more have died than officially reported.
Among those who watch Fox occasionally, 37% say that fewer people have died, 18% say the count is accurate, and 28% say that more have died.
And only 11% of those who never watch Fox say that fewer people have died, while 13% say the number is accurate and a whopping 59% say that more have died.
The same poll finds that respondents disapprove of Trump's handling of the response to coronavirus by a 54% to 42% margin. But frequent Fox viewers approve of his handling of coronavirus by 91% to 5%, while occasional Fox viewers approve 60%-34%. Among respondents who never watch Fox, a whopping 80% disapprove, and only 17% approve.
This is far from the first time a poll has shown that Fox viewers are misinformed about the coronavirus. The network’s viewers were much less likely to take the virus seriously and more likely to believe the danger it posed was being exaggerated by the news media, according to several surveys.