The COVID-19 pandemic has killed at least 286,000 Americans, including over 85,000 since mid-September. The U.S. is hitting records for daily averages of new cases and deaths amid the pandemic’s deadliest week yet. On December 8, 2,622 Americans died of COVID-19 -- but the December 9 edition of Fox & Friends never mentioned them.
Instead, Fox News' flagship morning show plowed ahead with 18 minutes of coverage on the network’s two newest War on Christmas stories: a young boy denied a Nerf gun by a shopping mall’s Santa Claus, and a Minnesota nurse who got one anonymous letter complaining about her Christmas lights.
The show began with the co-hosts excitedly teasing updates on the two stories, both of which were also covered on yesterday’s Fox & Friends. Brian Kilmeade passionately defended the safety of Nerf guns, with Steve Doocy noting the only thing that broke here was “a little boy’s heart.”
Returning to the Christmas lights saga, co-host Ainsley Earhardt protested that “we all need more lights,” adding that “I hope that person who wrote the letter feels bad” for doing so. Kilmeade linked the complaint to violent protests over the summer, saying the letter shows “the mindset that has people looting stores” because they think “you have too much that’s not yours [and] society is not equal.” All of the Fox News co-hosts bemoaned that “not enough people take the high road” these days, and Earhardt asked viewers to pray for the complaint’s author.
Later, Fox & Friends hosted the young boy who wants the Nerf gun and his family for a lengthy interview about their “global news” that “broke hearts across the internet,” which ended with Kilmeade expressing his gratitude that “the world finally stood up” against political correctness. Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth joined the show after to predict that the child is “poised to be a modern warrior,” also a promotion for Hegseth’s book of the same title. On the Christmas lights letter, Hegseth complained about the author “stewing” in anger because “we can say, you know, Jesus Christ is our lord and savior and be open about it without offending other people."
Fox & Friends’ final War on Christmas segment for December 9 featured Fox Business host Charles Payne noting that Hasbro’s stock price went up after the company gave the child free toy guns. Payne also complained about once buying “a machine gun-type” Nerf gun for his 16-year-old son who “didn’t even want it. But I loved it.”
It comes as no surprise that Fox’s flagship morning show would ignore record COVID-19 deaths in favor of vapid segments about the network’s perennially imagined War on Christmas, but that doesn’t make it any less morally reprehensible.
Fox News has a storied history of disastrous COVID-19 coverage: It’s downplayed the lethality of the virus, ignored its long-term side effects, relentlessly complained about and undermined mitigation efforts, promoted businesses and protests undermining public health measures, pushed false cures with claims of a “Lazarus” effect, encouraged a deadly “herd immunity” mindset, and much more. Fox’s unending COVID-19 misinformation endangers its own audience, which has been disproportionately likely to misjudge the danger of the pandemic. Fox News is gambling with people’s lives, then basically ignoring their deaths.
Media Matters reviewed the raw video in the SnapStream database of the December 9, 2020, episode of Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends for any segment, discussion, or mention of the national coronavirus death toll total, of the national daily death rate, or of any perceived assault on the Christmas holiday.
We timed all segments of perceived assaults on the Christmas holiday, which we defined as instances when an assault was the stated topic of discussion or when two or more speakers discussed an assault on Christmas with each other. We excluded teasers for upcoming segments.
We also determined whether any Fox News personality or guest reported or mentioned the coronavirus national death toll total or the national daily death rate. This included looking for Fox News on-screen graphics showing either the death toll or the death rate.