MSNBC Accuses Fox News of Coronavirus ‘Misinformation’

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On Friday, MSNBC was eager to exploit the coronavirus to bash cable competitor Fox News, accusing the rival network of spreading “misinformation” about the disease and even endangering the lives of its viewers. The discussion took place on the same show that labeled the virus President Trump’s “Chernobyl” on Thursday.

“The truth matters, but only when you see it, only when you hear it....here’s the thing, many Americans who tuned in to some media outlets, like Fox News, this week were told that the craze surrounding the global pandemic is just another excuse to attack the President,” anchor Stephanie Ruhle ranted late in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour.

 

 

Moments later, she turned to NBC News senior media reporter Dylan Byers and touted: The Washington Post this week reads, ‘Rupert Murdoch could save lives by forcing Fox News to tell the truth about coronavirus – right now.’” After hyping that piece from left-wing columnist Margaret Carlson, Ruhle fretted: “What worries you the most about the misinformation we’re seeing?”

Byers proclaimed: “Look, the misinformation itself is a public health crisis here.” He then proceeded to prosecute the supposed case against Fox:

We are all very familiar with the way that Fox News has handled coverage of political issues and policy issues....they have a right to propagandize, they have a right to be as partisan as they want. When you wade into territory – when we’re not just talking about, you know, believing in science, we’re talking about believing in cold, hard facts on the ground....And the fact that these folks go on air and misinform an audience which, by the way, is largely in the demographic that is most susceptible to the complications from this disease, I’m talking about older folks, folks in their mid-60s, 70s and older is irresponsible.

In his online newsletter, Byers Market, the journalist labeled Fox News coverage “The Other Pandemic” and accused NewsCorp owners Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch of “harming their audience.” The extent of his evidence for that proclamation was entirely anecdotal and solely focused on Fox prime-time hosts calling out some of the extreme reactions in the press:

For weeks, and especially in recent days, several Fox News hosts and on-air talent have denied or downplayed the significance of the virus. Some have argued that the media is over-dramatizing the outbreak in an effort to hurt President Donald Trump....Sean Hannity referred to the media's coverage of coronavirus as “mass hysteria”; Laura Ingraham accused the media of being “panic pushers,” and Fox Business anchor Trish Regan called it “yet another attempt to impeach the president.”

Byers at least offered some praise: “Tucker Carlson, to his credit, has called coronavirus a ‘very serious problem’ and chided those who have sought to downplay it. ‘People you know will get sick, some may die,’ he has said. ‘This is real.’”

On MSNBC, he concluded: “You know, at the end of the day, Rupert Murdoch, his son, Lachlan Murdoch, they are responsible at the end of the day, the buck stops for them for what goes on that network....if not the sake of the nation, the sake of their own audience, their own consumers, and do something about this.”

Back in February, Byers and Ruhle similarly teamed up to bemoan “conservative media” trying to “politicize” coronavirus, even as much of the media seized on the notion that the public health crisis could help Democrats politically.

Just on Thursday, MSNBC correspondent Mike Memoli described the virus as a “gift” and political “opportunity” for Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.

The hypocrisy of journalists like Ruhle and Byers attacking Fox News for spreading “misinformation” is stunning considering the coverage coming from their own network. They should clean up their own house before passing judgment on anyone else.

Here is a transcript of the March 13 exchange between Ruhle and Byers:

9:49 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: The truth matters, but only when you see it, only when you hear it. And right now, as the country and the world are trying to figure out how to best stop the spread of the coronavirus, the truth may be more important than ever. It’s about trust. But here’s the thing, many Americans who tuned in to some media outlets, like Fox News, this week were told that the craze surrounding the global pandemic is just another excuse to attack the President. One Fox host went as far as calling it the “coronavirus impeachment scandal.” Someone with a television platform did that.

(...)

9:51 AM ET

RUHLE: Dylan, a headline in The Washington Post this week reads, “Rupert Murdoch could save lives by forcing Fox News to tell the truth about coronavirus – right now.” What worries you the most about the misinformation we’re seeing?

DYLAN BYERS: Look, the misinformation itself is a public health crisis here. We are all very familiar with the way that Fox News has handled coverage of political issues and policy issues and even the impeachment trial, throughout the Trump presidency. That is their right. You know me, I’m pretty – I’m pretty level-headed about this. It’s a business, they have a right to propagandaize, they have a right to be as partisan as they want. When you wade into territory – when we’re not just talking about, you know, believing in science, we’re talking about believing in cold, hard facts on the ground: Actual cases of this disease that have been contracted, actual deaths that have happened as a result of this disease, the fact that every major sports league in this country has shut – has suspended their season or their league because they’re worried about this crisis.

The fact that even people inside of Fox News have been told to take precautions, to wash their hands, to work from home if they can. And the fact that these folks go on air and misinform an audience which, by the way, is largely in the demographic that is most susceptible to the complications from this disease, I’m talking about older folks, folks in their mid-60s, 70s and older is irresponsible.

And I think that headline gets it right. You know, at the end of the day, Rupert Murdoch, his son, Lachlan Murdoch, they are responsible at the end of the day, the buck stops for them for what goes on that network. They have never really touched it or interfered with it or told them to stop being so heavily partisan, even sometimes when they don’t agree with everything that’s on air. Now would be a time to step up for – if not the sake of the nation, the sake of their own audience, their own consumers, and do something about this.

(...)

NB Daily Health Care Coronavirus Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans Fox News Channel MSNBC Video Stephanie Ruhle Dylan Byers

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