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Published on April 1, 2020 8:13 AM


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Opinion - Fox's Fake News Contagion The network spent too long spraying its viewers with false information about the coronavirus pandemic. Kara Swisher By Kara Swisher Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer. March 31, 2020 2066 A protest at Fox News headquarters in Manhattan last year. A protest at Fox News headquarters in Manhattan last year.br /br /You can relax, Sean Hannity, Im not going to sue you. Some people are suggesting that there might be grounds for legal action against the cable network that you pretty much rule Because you and your colleagues dished out dangerous misinformation about the virus in the early days of the crisis in the United States. Some might allege that they have lost loved ones because of what was broadcast by your news organization. But lawsuits are a bad idea. Here's why: I believe in Fox Newss First Amendment.

Dear Commons Community,

Kara Swisher has an op-ed in todays New York Times slamming Fox News for spraying its viewers with false information about the coronavirus pandemic. She views the elderly as victims of the network and sandwiches her commentary by relating her personal experiences with her own mother. Here is an excerpt.

As The Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote recently: Fox failed its viewers and the broader public in ways both revealing and potentially lethal. In particular, Lachlan Murdoch failed to pry its most important voices away from their embrace of the presidents early line: that the virus was not a big threat in the United States.

That would be the chief executive of the company that owns Fox News, who took over the job from his infamous father, Rupert Murdoch. It was the patriarch who set the table at Fox, and Lachlan is just an apparently lackadaisical butler of the family business, according to Mr. Smith.

Well, not completely. Lachlan Murdoch did dump a B-team player, the Fox Business host Trish Regan, after she called the media attention given to coronavirus another attempt to impeach the president.

In Mr. Smiths column, Foxs longtime public relations honcho Irena Briganti said that the virus situation has evolved considerably over the last few weeks. Presumably thats an attempt to use a get-out-of-lawsuit-free card by trying to establish that the story has shifted and so has the news organization.

Mistakes were made, pandemic version.

Given the growing number of cases and deaths in the United States, Fox stopped playing down the crisis, a move that closely tracks the rocky evolution in thinking by Mr. Trump. Fox may also seek cover from some early pronunciations from another powerful Fox host, Tucker Carlson. While Mr. Hannity spun the hoax line, Mr. Carlson was quite firmly in the taking-it-seriously camp, urging Mr. Trump to act.

But back then, Mr. Carlson was a lone prominent voice on Fox, and his more grounded views did not break through to my mother in the early days. In this, Fox failed my mother and countless others of its fans. While we can joke all we want about the Fair and Balanced motto, its a very low bar to simply give your audience decent health information.

Fox News finally got much more serious in its reporting on the coronavirus, as has Mr. Trump. Convinced by experts new estimates that millions of Americans would be at risk for infection and hundreds of thousands at risk for dying if he prematurely reopened the country, Mr. Trump and Fox have gone into reverse.

Better late than never but in this case it may be too little too late.