Donald Trump is almost, sorta taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously. He's no longer planning a grand opening of the economy for Easter, followed by a grand closing of most people's lives. That means Fox News, which exists to serve the president, has started recognizing reality from a distance of at least six feet.

Trump phoned in to his "Fox & Friends" this morning, and he sang the praises of social distances. He once feared the “cure" was worse than the “disease" — a line of gibberish fed to him by Fox host Steve Hilton, who now wants to see just how full our hospitals really are. Maybe all the sick and dying in New York are a big David Copperfield illusion.

Hilton's still an idiot, but Trump's a changed man. He even has children's letters to Santa Claus that reveal how families are coming together while under house arrest.

TRUMP: I'm getting letters from people that, “I found my family again.’"They were doing all sorts of things & now they're with their family in the home and not going out ... we're getting a lot of letters. "We found our family again. We found what life should be."

Yes, hiding away in our homes from a deadly plague is what life should be if our lives were Edgar Allan Poe stories. Thank you, Mr. President, for your criminally negligent response to the coronavirus! My son and I have never been closer than during our current hair-growing contest.


Trump is now embracing the model that predicted 2.2 million deaths from the virus if America didn't take drastic action. He's gone from dismissing the coronavirus as a hoax to trying to take credit for saving millions of lives, when just last week he was considering killing millions to save billions (of dollars). It's almost impressive that the Fox News sycophants can manage to keep up with whatever the mad king believes at any given moment.

Co-host Steve Doocy agreed with Trump's decision to extend social distancing guidelines through April 30.

DOOCY: Worst thing that can happen is we open up parts of the country and [the coronavirus] comes back.

Sensible people have said that ever since Trump suggested his Easter Coronavirus Parade during a Fox News virtual town hall. We're fine with Doocy seeing reason, but that's not what happened. He's just providing cover for whatever Trump's current position might be. State media might sometimes concede that two plus two equals four, but that's not a a victory for mathematics.

Just two weeks ago, co-host Ainsley Earhardt was playing travel agent and suggesting it was a great time to fly because airport terminals were as “dead" as anyone dumb enough to take her advice. Doocy joked about New Yorkers abandoning their state and soaking up the sun in Florida. They were broadcasting this garbage from New York City, which the virus was battering in real time.

Sunday, during an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid, Gabriel Sherman from Vanity Fair said there was concern from Fox News insiders that downplaying the coronavirus for so long — even calling it a “Democrat hoax" — might expose the network to legal action.

SHERMAN: I've heard Trish Regan's being taken off the air is, you know, reflective of this concern that Fox News is in big trouble by downplaying this virus and The New York Times reported days ago that the Murdoch family was privately taking the coronavirus seriously. The Murdochs, of course, own Fox News. So, they were taking personal steps to protect themselves while anchors like Trish Regan and Sean Hannity were telling viewers that it's a hoax and putting themselves in potentially mortal danger. So I think this is a case where Fox's coverage, if it actually winds up being proved that people died because of it, this is a new terrain in terms of Fox being possibly held liable for their actions.

I'd love to see Fox News sued into oblivion, but on the other hand, no one forced old white people to make the network their primary news source. The outright stupidity of most of the on-air talent is its own warning label. Maybe you could force Fox News to put a little skull and crossbones in the corner of the screen for all the good it would do.

Fox had Trish Regan walk the plank after her absurd rant about the coronavirus. This likely was intended to demonstrate that Fox didn't support irresponsible crap on its airwaves, but it's like a gross bar pouring out a single beer someone spat in while still serving all the others. Jeanine Pirro dismissed claims that the coronavirus was any worse than the flu, for which we have a fucking vaccine. Sean Hannity argued that the coronavirus was a “new hoax" the Left was using to “bludgeon" Trump. And literally the day after Regan's rant, Laura Ingraham denounced so-called coronavirus “panic pushers." She still has a job — although her contract requires tricking her into saying her name three times before she's forced back to the netherworld.

Overall, Fox News changed its tone once Trump declared a national emergency on March 13. Hosts and anchors started to praise Trump's “bold" action. The usual gang of idiots at “Fox & Friends" were still slow to the party. Joy Behar took time off from “The View" to self-isolate while Earhardt and Doocy were making light of the outbreak.

Unfortunately for Fox News, it's impossible to even pose as a responsible network if it's constantly taking its cues from the most irresponsible president in history.

[Media Matters]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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