How Trump and his Fox News allies are infecting the public trust amid coronavirus concerns


What preventative measures should people take? How will the spread of coronavirus disrupt everyday life? Will companies without paid sick leave, especially in service industries, allow employees to stay home if they are sick? Journalists have been and continue to be hard at work talking to medical professionals and government officials to provide the public with answers to these important questions.

Unfortunately, President Trump and some of his allies in right-wing media choose to attack news organizations to provide the public with this information. And while it is not surprising that pro-Trump media forces go to great lengths to defend the president, given the risk to public health, it is nothing short of disturbing.

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Some of Trump's most eager supporters in the media have belittled the concerns of the corona virus and mislead the public by telling them that news organizations and members of the Democratic Party are vigilant in an attempt to hurt the president's reelection efforts. Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have advanced this conspiratorial mindset, as have conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Read my full story here …

Thursday night it was more of the same. Hannity mocked concerns about the potential threat of coronavirus. "I can report that the sky is absolutely falling, we are all doomed, the end is near," Hannity said, adding, "Or at least it's the media mob and the Democratic Extreme Radical Socialist Party want you to think. " Even during his softball interview with Mike Pence, Hannity attacked top Democrats as "politicizing" the situation.

Over the next hour, Ingraham continued the theme. She belittled the concerns and asked viewers to "calm down." Chryons on her show read "LEFT CORONAVIRUS SMEAR CAMPAIGN," "LEFT CORONAVIRUS FEATURING," and "LEFT TRIAL FOR PANIC AMERICANS OVER CORONAVIRUS." Her guest, Trump 2020 Advisory Board member Harmeet Dhillon, accused Trump's critics of "cheering for an illness to take over America." You get the idea …

Oh, the irony

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Brian Lowry Email: That Ingraham clips "Armed Fear" is especially rich when you consider the extent to which the fear played in Fox News' programming decision under the late Roger Ailes. As a documentary Alexis Bloom – who created "Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes" – told Vanity Fair in 2018, "I just hope that the film provides a deeper understanding of the current moment in America. Monetization of fear, and the awakening of fear, and how a channel like Fox News really makes money to stop people's fears."

Meanwhile, the Trump Fox segment is tweeting offensive media

No surprise here, but Trump seemed to spend at least part of the evening watching Fox. In a tweet, President quoted Fox Business host Trish Regan as attacking CNN. Trump then admonished journalists and wrote: "The media refuses to discuss the good work our professionals are doing!" Later he left another tweet, and referred to CNN – at the beginning of a potential health crisis – as "Fake News."
>> Earlier in the day: Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng reported it, amid concerns about coronavirus, Trump spent 45 minutes with "deep state" actors. Trump also met "Diamond & Silk" and Candace Owens …

The White House is moving to restrict messages

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"The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control over coronavirus messages by health authorities and government researchers," Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman of NYT reported, "ask them to coordinate all statements and public appearances with the office of Vice President Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach."
>> Previously on CNN, Haberman noticed it "the sheer volume of things" Trump has said is "not true", "does not inspire credibility …"

Media gives voice to the announcer

WaPo was first with the story, and then followed other major outlets. An alert at the Department of Health and Human Services has complained and said more than a dozen workers who received Americans evacuated over concerns from China's coronavirus lacked proper training or protective equipment.

How the media distorts Trump's words (in a way that benefits him)

"Large media cover up Trump's frightening incoherence in a crisis," concluded Dan Froomkin after watching Wednesday's presses and read the subsequent coverage.

Froomkin wrote: "It was obvious to anyone who listened to Trump's rushing, often incoherent, self-centered, stream of consciousness ad-libbing … that: Trump had no real understanding of what he was talking about. He had no sense of what was required of him as president. He sees that this is about him. There are only so many things that can get out of his head. "Here, Froomkin argued that news releases made the press seem normal when it was not …

FOR THE RECORD

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– Chuck Todd on "MTP Daily" Thursday night: "Politically, this president may have to reap what he has sown in terms of public confidence, or lack thereof, in the institutions built to keep this democracy healthy …" (MSNBC)
– If you haven't done so yet, you can listen to Michael Barbaro and his discussions about coronavirus with NYT researcher / health reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. on "The Daily …" (NYT)
– Emily Bell has one point: "Coronavirus reveals how bad news design is on platforms to keep up with stories that are urgent, sprawling and require up-to-date accurate information …" (Twitter)
– In China, the Chinese "propaganda machine" has not been effective in reassuring citizens who "openly criticize state media …" (NYT)
– Facebook announced on Thursday that it canceled F8, the annual developer conference … (CNN)
– The Mexican beer brand Corona "is being harmed by the association with the deadly virus, according to new research …" (USA Today)

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