This is the end of the first week of April 2020. As we approach the apex of the Coronavirus crisis, we learn that the national stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is depleted—meaning frontline medical professionals are likely to be in the thick of the fight unprotected. Trump has declared himself a wartime president. If so, he's doomed his first defenders to fight a war without any armor or weaponry.
Before Covid-19 dominated the air waves, I occasionally watched Fox News. Generally, couldn't stomach more than hour in a month, which was all I needed to keep me aware of what passes as news for large swaths of this country given that Fox is seen in more households than any other cable news network in the United States.
A month ago I thought, "It's beyond me—I don't get it. How can anyone still support Trump?" But now, after watching Fox News for a while, things are beginning to make sense.
But since the Coronavirus has dominated our lives, I've found myself watching Fox daily. To be clear, I rely on other news sources to stay informed, but I watch Fox to try to make sense of it all. How the hell does Trump continue to have supporters? A month ago I thought, "It's beyond me—I don't get it. How can anyone still support him?" But now, after watching Fox News for a while and considering that there are a lot of people who get their news exclusively from Fox, things are beginning to make sense.
Fox presents their news from an angle that tends to be as favorable to Trump as possible even in the face of the loss of thousands of lives—the story is spun in a way that paints Trump as a hero. Their focus minimizes the urgency of the crisis. They do not put a spotlight on Trump's inaction during the two most crucial months where people were spreading it without even knowing they could be carriers.
In Washington state, a small group of individuals filed a lawsuit against Fox News alleging their coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic puts the public in danger. Seeking to get the court to enjoin the network from airing what this group claims is misinformation, the group filed a 10-page complaint against the network for “interfering with reasonable and necessary measures to contain the virus by publishing further false and deceptive content.” The named defendants include Fox News Corp., owner Rupert Murdoch, AT&T TV and COMCAST.
Unsurprisingly, Fox is fighting the suit characterizing it as frivolous. The group filing the claim is seeking to come up against the most powerful cable news network in the world, not to mention that Fox will likely invoke First Amendment protection.
But the group claims that Fox News interfered with social distancing measures. One of the members of the group, Arthur West said, “We believe it delayed and interfered with a prompt and adequate response to this coronavirus pandemic within the state of Washington.” When asked about first amendment protections, West said, “It’s like the theater thing,” he said. “Up to the point where you get up in the theater and yell ‘Fire!’ you can say whatever you want. But when you get to the point where you are endangering the community — that transcends the limits of the First Amendment.”
The group is relying on the discovery process to bolster the case. West says, “We want to know when Fox News knew that the coronavirus was actually a dangerous thing, and we believe there is some evidence that … Mr. Murdoch and the staff running Fox News were implementing coronavirus protection measures for their staff … while at the same time they were broadcasting that it was a hoax.”
It isn't clear where they will find this evidence but if found, that would seem to be somewhat of a smoking gun. We'll stay tuned and see how this case pans out. In the meantime, Bernie Sanders has announced that he is suspending his campaign. New York has reported another record number of deaths in one day due to the coronavirus and still we don't have a nationwide shut down.
I thought I'd end with a timeline I put together a week ago. This timeline compares the United States with South Korea in its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
January 3, 2020: The President of the United States is briefed on the seriousness of the Coronavirus. The American people are not put on alert. The World Health Organization issues guidelines that include instructions to 1) isolate; 2) test; 3) treat and 4) trace.
January 20, 2020: The United States and South Korea both learn (on the same day) that a person in their country has been infected with the Coronavirus
End of January: South Korea approves a diagnostic test and begins following the process outlined by the WHO - 1) isolate; 2) test; 3) treat and 4) trace
End of January: United States President is embroiled in an impeachment trial. No briefings or communications to the public offering guidelines. Coronavirus testing not available on a wide scale in the United States. WHO recommendations ignored.
Beginning of February: South Korea begins aggressive Coronavirus testing
Beginning of February: United States President Trump, in State of the Union Address, tells the American people that his administration “will take the necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat” Trump announces he has “shut down” Coronavirus coming in from China. Testing not available on a wide scale in the United States. WHO recommendations not followed.
Mid February:South Korea has 28 identified cases of coronavirus. South Korea well into testing implementation. Provides drive-through screening centers to quickly test its population and help to identify Coronavirus infections.
Mid February:United States has 15 identified cases of coronavirus. President says of the Coronavirus “a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat”. Testing not available on a wide scale in the United States. World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations not followed by the Trump administration.
End of February: South Korea has tested thousands per day. WHO recommendations fully implemented.
End of February: United States President announces in several different briefings “because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low”. “We have it so well under control” “I view this the same as the flu” “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle. It will disappear”. At a rally Trump tells his supporters, “the Democrats are politicizing the Coronavirus.” “This is their new hoax”
Beginning of March:South Korea has 3,000 identified cases of coronavirus. South Korea is testing over 10,000 people per day and have tested well over 290,000 people.
Beginning of March:United States has less than 100 identified cases of coronavirus. The United States has not implemented widespread Coronavirus testing. The federal government takes no action to implement a nationwide quarantine. Other nations shutting down there countries. WHO recommendations ignored.
Mid March:South Korea has 8,000 identified cases of coronavirus. Number of new cases begins to level off. Active cases decreasing.
Mid March:United States has less than 8,000 identified cases of coronavirus. United States has started testing in limited areas of the country. Masks, ventilators and other medical equipment is sorely lacking across the nation. WHO recommendations are not followed partly because we did not take the steps to manufacture or otherwise acquire the necessary equipment.
End of March:South Korea has 9,200 identified cases of coronavirus. South Korea’s Coronavirus growth rate has flattened. It is leveling off at approximately 9,200.
End of March:United States has less than 86,000 identified cases of coronavirus. United States now providing tests. The number of positive tests is growing rapidly with no evidence of leveling off. Several states have issued mandatory quarantine orders but not all states. The Federal Government will not issue a shut down but offers “guidelines”. World Health Organization announces that the United States will be the epicenter of the Coronavirus. As of the writing of this post, April 8, 2020, the United States has not implemented the full mitigation efforts suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO).
April 7, 2020: South Korea has 10,156 identified cases of coronavirus -- 200 South Koreans have died.
April 7, 2020:United States has over 400,000 identified cases of coronavirus -- over 14,700 Americans have died.
If you listen to Fox, you'll hear that the United States has identified more cases of the coronavirus because we've tested more than any other country. What you won't hear is that the United States did not and still does not follow the advice of the World Health Organization as it relates to isolating, testing, treating and tracing. By refusing to issue a federal order and allowing states to make their own decisions, we have several states that have not issued stay at home orders at all. While Donald Trump has recently began to attack the WHO.
It's just a matter of time before Fox listeners will no longer trust the World Health Organization.
Publisher, LA Progressive