74 journalism professors and journalists signed an open letter addressed to Fox News’ Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch on Thursday, criticizing the network they oversee for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter stated, in part, “The Viewers of Fox News, including the president of the United States, have been regularly subjected to misinformation relayed by the network — false statements downplaying the prevalence of COVID-19 and its harms; misleading recommendations of activities that people should undertake to protect themselves and others, including casual recommendations of untested drugs; false assessments of the value of measures urged upon the public by their elected political leadership and public health authorities.”

It went on to declare Fox News’ coverage a “danger to public health,” citing various statistics. One survey cited, for instance, came from Pew Research and revealed that 79% of Fox News’ viewers felt the media was overstating the potency of COVID-19, or the coronavirus.

A report by Lindsey Ellefson in The Wrap on April 3, 2020 said:

Like other recent critics of the network’s coverage of the pandemic, the professors did point out that some Fox News reporters have done “solid” reporting, specifically singling out primetime host Tucker Carlson.

“Urgently, therefore, in the name of both good journalism and public health, we call upon you to help protect the lives of all Americans — including your elderly viewers — by ensuring that the information you deliver is based on scientific facts,” the letter said.

Primetime host Sean Hannity responded to the letter in an exclusive interview with Newsweek, saying, “They’re guilty of what they accuse me of. I said it in 2007: Journalism is dead.” Hannity then cited misreporting in the 2006 Duke Lacrosse team rape case and Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington High student who sued CNN for defaming him.

Fox News Media has been impacted both by some talent’s early coverage of the virus and by the illness itself: Fox Business Network parted ways with Trish Regan after she questioned whether coronavirus was a hoax designed to hurt President Donald Trump.

Six confirmed cases in the New York offices have coincided with an overhaul of company procedure. All interviews are now down by Skype and the select few employees still working in the building instead of telecommuting are asked to take their temperature every morning.

Earlier this week the network began airing a PSA across the channel where Fox News various on-air talents urge viewers to visit coronavirus.gov for the latest information to stay safe during the pandemic. Fox News and Facebook hosted a town hall Thursday night, making a joint $1 million donation Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund in the process.

Among the signatories are Todd Gitlin of Columbia Journalism School, Mark Feldstein of University of Maryland and Adam Hoschchild of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.


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