Supercut: Before Pro-Trump Pundits Took Coronavirus Seriously, They Downplayed the Crisis
Within the past few weeks, Fox News hosts and allies of President Donald Trump appearing on its airwaves mocked those warning of a looming pandemic. Now that the White House has finally started to take the crisis seriously, so have top voices at Fox News, who now bill Covid-19 as a severe concern.
The shift of tone from a week ago is as evident on Fox News as it was from allies like former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who began sending up warning signals this week.
Rush Limbaugh, whose comments appear daily on Fox News, was one of the first pro-Trump pundits to take a stand on downplaying the coronavirus. In widely condemned remarks made on February 25, Limbaugh said “it’s being hyped because… the media thinks this is the new Russia! This is gonna get Trump!”
“They’re gleeful, they’re happy. This is gonna destroy the economy magically by November. And it won’t,” he added.
“I’m not afraid of the coronavirus, and no one else should be that afraid either,” said The Five host Jesse Watters on March 3. He reasoned: “I live in Manhattan, I got off work the other night and went straight to the subway – Asian guy sits down to me with a mask on, what do I do? Finish the ride and I go home to order Chinese food.”
Watters said this Monday on The Five he was now taking social distancing “seriously.”
On Sunday, March 8, Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host and Trump confidante, suggested on her Sunday night program that warm weather would extinguish the coronavirus — while downplaying Covid-19 and comparing it to influenza.
Fox Business host Trish Regan declared on March 9 that coverage of the coronavirus is a “scam” by Democrats, on par with impeachment, aimed at “demonizing” and “destroying the president.
Following intense backlash from that commentary, Regan’s show was sent on “hiatus until further notice” Friday, March 13. The network said her show was suspended in order to devote more time to “the demands of the evolving pandemic crisis coverage.”
On March 11, CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp downplayed the crisis on-air, claiming the highly contagious virus is “actually hard to get.”
Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity on March 13 preached calm to viewers in light of American’s fears by stating the likelihood of contracting and dying from the coronavirus are “slim to none.”
While much of his commentary has been attacks on the media for “politicizing” the virus, Hannity has called it a serious crisis on air.
“Make no mistake, the coronavirus — every virus, as we have been telling you, you must take it seriously,” he said on March 13. “It has been and it is being taken seriously. As a nation, we must take every and all necessary precautions. But also, we need to be calm. We need to be strategic. We need to be smart. We need to have the right perspective.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrote in a March 13 tweet, since deleted, that now is a “Great time to fly if not in at-risk population!”
While a change of tone has finally come from many voices on Fox News, Tucker Carlson was ahead of the curve.
As early as January 28, Carlson was warning viewers of the coronavirus on his show — calling it “bizarre” that immigration between the United States and China, the origin of the virus, was running freely.
“But so far, and this is the fascinating part, travel to and from China and the United States remains completely unaffected. Chinese citizens, even people coming directly from Wuhan, the place were this started, can travel to and from the United States whenever they want,” Carlson said. “Bizarre.”
On March 6, Carlson warned viewers of the potential economic and social ramifications which could be felt by the coronavirus outbreak, which the host predicted would become more widespread.
“That means, for most Americans, the biggest risks will come not from the virus itself, but from its ancillary effects. People will panic. Travel will be disrupted. Markets will tumble. And most critically, hospitals will be overwhelmed,” Carlson said.
He has (indirectly) excoriated the Trump administration for downplaying the crisis and confronted its officials.
UPDATE — Hannity actually responded to this article and video by going after Mediaite and asking when this website will praise the president’s decision to institute a travel ban on China.
1. Edited Fake news again. @ least Mediaite quoted my warnings 2 take this seriously on 3/13. When will Mediaite praise POTUS 4 his travel ban & quarantine on 1/31 only 10 days after the 1st known case in the US? https://t.co/CaTya6RQ8l
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) March 18, 2020
2. The one Biden said was xenophobic, hysterical and fear mongering? https://t.co/CaTya6RQ8l
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) March 18, 2020
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