While major newspapers and news networks spotlighted the 3,124 US deaths, Fox News barely mentioned the news on its airwaves.
The lack of coverage was part of a larger months-long trend by the channel to downplay the severity of the pandemic as its top hosts and personalities criticize public officials and the guidance they have offered to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Fox News’ prime time lineup did not mention the record death toll, according to a search of transcripts. The day’s final death toll was not known during the prime time show broadcasts, but by the 8 p.m. hour the Johns Hopkins University data indicated the US had added a record number of coronavirus-related deaths.
And when the network did mention the death toll on Thursday, its hosts did so in passing, glossing over the news instead of underscoring the distressing reality of the pandemic. On Thursday, by 12 p.m. ET, the conservative cable channel had only spent 20 seconds mentioning the death toll, according to the progressive watchdog Media Matters.
A Fox News spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
But Marie Harf, a liberal Fox News contributor, called out the network’s glaring omission of the coronavirus death toll during her appearance on “Outnumbered.” Harf noted halfway through the program that no one had “mentioned yet that 3,000 Americans died.”
That observation drew a harsh response from the host, Harris Faulkner, who scolded Harf on air and called her statement of fact “offensive.” Faulkner argued that Harf “can’t see” her heart and said the growing death toll “hurts all of us.”
Instead of focusing on the record death toll, Fox News heavily focused on two stories that portray prominent Democrats in a negative light.
The network spent significant time covering news that Hunter Biden, the son of President-elect Joe Biden, is under federal investigation over his finances.
And Fox News spent considerable time discussing an Axios report that said California Rep. Eric Swalwell was targeted by a Chinese spy who he immediately cut ties with after federal investigators alerted him of her identity. Axios reported that Swalwell hadn’t been accused of wrongdoing, but Fox still framed the story as a “scandal” for the congressman.