Coronavirus denialism can take many shapes. The main shape I’m seeing right now, across pro-Trump talk shows and blogs and webcasts, is invisible to the naked eye. They’re just not covering the virus much at all.
“Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace led his Sunday program with what he called a “dangerous new phase of the pandemic.” The news hours on Fox News also focused on the pandemic. But the channel’s highest rated hours on Sunday — like “Fox & Friends” in the morning and “Life, Liberty and Levin” at night — led with “law and order” stories and reflected Trump’s talking points.
I’m not arguing that every show on every network should be the same. Of course not! But Fox’s MAGA talk shows carry unique influence among a swath of Americans who consistently say they don’t trust other sources. Often times they don’t even trust the newscasts on Fox. The talk shows have not taken this new Covid-19 spike seriously enough.
>> My TVEyes search for mentions of “masks” in June turned up 1,345 results on CNN, 970 results on MSNBC, and just 485 results on Fox…
>> And here’s another example: Producer Marina di Marzo analyzed the Trump-Sean Hannity town hall and found that only three minutes of the hour were devoted to the coronavirus…
Hammering home the basics
Oliver Darcy writes: Those of us who work in the news industry are very familiar with the basics of the virus and preventive measures that can be taken to slow its spread. But it’s important to remember that most people are not as plugged into the news cycle as we are and are, as a result, more susceptible to believing spin and misinformation. So what should journalists do? Hammer home the basics.
For example, a popular talking point from the W.H. in recent days is that increased access to testing is the reason the US is seeing a rise in cases. People I know have made this argument to me as well. But while increased testing is likely a contributing factor to more positive cases, it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. News outlets should explain this, showing charts of increased hospitalization rates to drive home the point that more people in certain areas of the country are in fact getting sick.