Report: Fox News May Have Kept Millions From Taking COVID Threat Seriously

Screengrab / Fox News / YouTube

Sarah Shaiman

Consumers of right wing news continuously underestimated the pandemic and were less likely to wear masks.

A number of studies have shown that Americans who relied on Fox News and other right-wing sources for coronavirus information were “duped,” according to a Washington Post report.

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 watched Fox News were more likely to believe in pseudoscientific remedies, believed the Chinese created the virus in a lab, and believed the pandemic was a conspiracy to ruin President Trump’s 2020 prospects.
  • Worse, President Trump himself repeated right-wing news talking points. Additionally, he consistently downplayed the severity of the pandemic, leading the United States to remain the hardest hit country as other countries recover.
  • One study found that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson based his analysis of the virus in reality more often than Sean Hannity. Carlson viewers took precautions much earlier than Hannity viewers.
  • Some viewers failed to believe in the pandemic at all while others believed mask-wearing was a pledge of left-wing allegiance.

Fox news criticized the study as “cherry-picking.” However, the study’s authors rejected this criticism because their coders read every transcript from January to March to gather the data.

Read the full report here.

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