Fox cut away from report on "life-threatening" hurricane for six minutes of Powerball "breaking news"
Previous Fox lottery coverage told people to “buy as many tickets as you can afford”
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Michael Brennan, senior hurricane specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center, appeared on the August 24 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now to alert viewers to the “potentially life-threatening hazards” presented by Hurricane Harvey, which could “potentially” reach “major hurricane intensity” before making landfall, when it will threaten Texas cities with severe winds and “6 to 10 feet of inundation from storm surge.”
However, while Brennan was explaining the serious threat posed by the hurricane, co-host Jon Scott interrupted him, saying "we have got breaking news.” Fox then went to six uninterrupted minutes of “the Powerball jackpot winner … being revealed a very rich, rich woman today.”
Intentionally or otherwise, Fox’s programming decision to interrupt a Hurricane Harvey report with the Powerball winner downplays the dangers posed by severe weather. This is also not Fox’s first rendezvous with terrible lottery coverage: In 2016, Fox offered the advice that you can increase your odds of winning the Powerball if you “buy as many tickets as you can afford,” which is clearly not advisable. From the August 24 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
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MICHAEL BRENNAN: We’re worried about three potentially life-threatening hazards with Hurricane Harvey. First is the wind. We are -- we’ve seen Harvey intensify very, very quickly today, as it’s now become a hurricane, and as it moves off to the northwest, we’re expecting it to strengthen further, as you mentioned potentially reaching major hurricane intensity before making landfall somewhere in the middle Texas coast, Friday night or early Saturday. So, there is a wind hazard that comes with that. But we’re also expecting life-threatening storm surge in the area from Port Mansfield all the way up to San Luis Pass is under a storm surge warning, and that means we think there’s the danger of life-threatening inundation from storm surge, and in the middle portion of this area we expect 6 to 10 feet of inundation from storm surge at the coast as Harvey makes landfall. The other complicating factor for Harvey is that once it makes landfall, it’s going to move inland and just meander around southeastern Texas for several days, likely into the early portions of next week, and that is going to lead it to extremely heavy rainfall. We could see rainfall values over a widespread area, of 12 to 20 inches --
JON SCOTT (CO-HOST): Michael. Michael, I am sorry, we have got breaking news as well. Michael Brennan. Thank you.
HEATHER CHILDERS (CO-HOST): And now we’re going to take you to the Powerball jackpot winner, who is being revealed a very rich, rich woman today -- $759 million. The Powerball winner coming forward in Massachusetts.