Fox & Friends Churns Out Misinformation on Coronavirus


Fox & Friends has not been fertile ground for accurate or measured information on the coronavirus outbreak, for the same reasons that the White House has failed in measuring up to the test.

Friday, as fears in the United States start to match warnings from experts about the potential consequences of the virus, Fox & Friends continues to demonstrate its inability to accurately inform viewers about the origins and dangers of the virus as well as the precautions needed to combat its spread.

“It’s actually the safest time to fly,” said host Ainsley Earhardt on Friday morning during a Fox & Friends segment on air travel during the pandemic. “Everyone I know that’s flying right now, terminals are pretty much dead. Ghost towns. And then the planes — remember back in the day when you had next to you, a seat, possibly, empty, you could stretch out a little more? It’s like that on every flight now.”

“What do you mean?” co-host Steve Doocy asked, before noting his wife was on a flight on Thursday and “every seat was taken.”

It is not the “safest time to fly.” On Wednesday night, the State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans to reconsider traveling abroad because of the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump banned travel between the United States and Europe for non-citizens, and Americans returning to the United States will be screened and requested to self-quarantine for two weeks.

“I certainly wouldn’t get on a plane for a pleasure trip,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Thursday night. “If it was just for fun, no way would I do it.”

Later in the morning, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera had words of warning to the president to take the pandemic seriously (good start). Before signing off, however, he offered some advice for the virus that has been debunked online.

“If you can’t hold your breath for 10 seconds. Everyone should do that. Hold your breath for 10 seconds. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds then you don’t have this disease,” Rivera said.

The 10 second test is not a way to determine whether you have the coronavirus. The false claim, which has been debunked by medical experts, is one of many hoaxes about the virus that have spread through social media this week.

A far more insidious suggestion came from Jerry Falwell Jr., the prominent evangelical leader and Trump supporting president of Liberty University.

After dismissing “hype” over the coronavirus — a disease that has shut down Italy and ended American sports for the season — as a political “attempt to get Trump,” Falwell floated a truly insane conspiracy theory:

“The owner of a restaurant asked me last night. He said do you remember the North Korean leader promised us a Christmas present for America? Back in December. Could it be they got together with China and this is that present? I don’t know. But it really is something strange going on.”

To summarize, Falwell is suggesting on live television that North Korea teamed up with China to plant a deadly virus in the latter country, killing thousands, so that the bioweapon would eventually spread to the United States and hurt Trump politically.

There was no pushback from the hosts of Fox & Friends.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor in Chief of Mediaite. Send tips via email: Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin