Despite the fact that the liberal media dismissed and downplayed the coronavirus in its early stages, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan decided to pull a fast one on her readers Sunday morning, deceptively shooting poisonous barbs at the Fox News Channel, claiming that academic research has decided once and for all that FNC’s pandemic coverage was deadly irresponsible.
Of course, one of many outlets that brushed aside the virus was, yes, The Post. And speaking of The Post, wasn’t that the paper that published a 3,000-plus-word piece on a years-old Halloween party canceling a private citizen to the point she lost her job? Yes! Yes, it was.
Let’s try and work our way through this.
The headline itself was nauseatingly-stupid and pure gaslighting: “The data is in: Fox News may have kept millions from taking the coronavirus threat seriously.”
Sullivan then began (click “expand”):
It’s another one of those Trump Era realities best described as unsurprising but nevertheless shocking.
Three serious research efforts have put numerical weight — yes, data-driven evidence — behind what many suspected all along: Americans who relied on Fox News, or similar right-wing sources, were duped as the coronavirus began its deadly spread.
The studies “paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others,” wrote my colleague Christopher Ingraham in an analysis last week.
Here’s the reality, now backed by numbers:
Those who relied on mainstream sources — the network evening newscasts or national newspapers that President Trump constantly blasts as “fake news” — got an accurate assessment of the pandemic’s risks. Those were the news consumers who were more likely to respond accordingly, protecting themselves and others against the disease that has now killed more than 123,000 in the United States with no end in sight.
Those who relied on Fox or, say, radio personality Rush Limbaugh, came to believe that vitamin C was a possible remedy, that the Chinese government created the virus in a lab, and that government health agencies were exaggerating the dangers in the hopes of damaging Trump politically, a survey showed.
“That’s the real evil of this type of programming,” Arthur West of the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, which sued Fox News in April over its coronavirus coverage, told the Times of San Diego, a news website.
Speaking of “unsurprising,” it turns out that the academic papers Sullivan was using were only “working drafts” and therefore weren’t peer-reviewed. Sullivan referenced a Post article about this anti-Fox narrative, but she ignored how it acknowledged issues with the studies and how they were debunked months ago.
The scientific method and conducting academic search were basic things students learn in high school and college, but when one hates Fox News, such realities go away.
As NewsBusters has noted, the liberal media had decided by April that Fox News was culpable in both the virus’s spread and its death toll. All the while, they either dismissed the virus in its early months or ignored it outright in favor of their beloved impeachment proceedings.
And if the virus has been something the liberal media have made their top priority, why did the major broadcast networks banish it into the background to endorse and support rioting and looting? And why did they downplay the virus to show little concern for it amid the sea of protests following George Floyd’s death?
Here are more excerpts from Sullivan’s fiendish column (click “expand”):
As the weeks went on, and the toll of the virus became undeniable, Fox’s offerings became somewhat more responsible, but viewers were misled for far too long. As late as March 6, a Fox “medical contributor” was falsely assuring Sean Hannity’s audience that the virus wasn’t all that bad: “At worst, worst-case scenario, it could be the flu.”
The upshot was clear: For too long, many devotees of most right-wing news decided they didn’t need to stay home. Others absorbed the idea that wearing a protective mask was an act of left-leaning partisanship.
But disease leaps across the political aisle quite nimbly.
And so, it’s tragic — but again not all that surprising — to see the virus spiking now in red states where governors and other public officials joined Trump and his favorite news outlets early on in downplaying the dangers.
One of the study’s authors persuasively rejected Fox’s criticism that underlying data was chosen unfairly: There’s no “cherry-picking” possible, he said, because the independent coders read every transcript between late January and late March. These academic studies, published in Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review and the National Bureau of Economic Research, are cautious. They don’t make wild claims, and they wisely hedge their conclusions because they don’t want to go too far.
Still, it’s difficult to come away from them without believing that serious harm has been done. And that it’s far from over.
If Sullivan were truly serious about things resulting in “serious harm,” “tragic” results, or an “undeniable toll,” she would call out her newspaper for ruining Sue Schafer’s life when they dumped over 3,000 words lamenting about her Megyn Kelly-in-blackface costume.
Sadly, the Fox News hate has and will continue to be a facet of the liberal media, facts be damned.