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Hannity screenshot, March 11 2020

We've been as amazed as the rest of you by Fox News's weird denialism about coronavirus, like its insistence that the Deep State is using health fears to impeach Donald Trump, the exhortations to go out and fly the coughing skies and all that. Now, some new polling data from an Economist/YouGov poll suggests that people who get most of their information from Fox News are also less likely to consider COVID-19 a serious threat, and more likely to believe conspiracy theories about the outbreak. Of course you're not surprised, but now there's data, so let's take a look!


On the whole, the poll, conducted from March 15 to 17, found that self-identified Republicans (and "conservatives") said they were less worried about both their own "risk of contracting it and the seriousness of the illness." Among presidential primary voters, Democrats were far more likely to be "somewhat worried" or "very worried" (48 and 19 percent) than Republicans (31 percent and 8 percent). The really dramatic difference showed up at the other extreme: Way more Republican primary voters were "not too worried" or "not worried at all" (42 percent, 19 percent) than Democrats were (28 percent, 4 percent). Similar numbers for general party preference and political outlook (we've edited out the primary voters here, and for that matter other categories like age, education, income, and race):

Those results extended to what people said they're doing to try to prevent the spread of the virus. Democrats, liberals, and moderates were a lot more likely to have "Reduced the number of times you eat out at restaurants or bars," for instance, with independents kind of in the mushy middle:

Also, just in case we don't get to it, here's a dumb real-life case study from my home state, Idaho, where Republican legislators insisted yesterday they really do take the outbreak seriously, then went to an end-of-session dinner together. A former state House speaker joked, "Ok, don't be the 51st person in the room." Serious people for serious times.

Then there was this goofy good-ish news! Three quarters of us of us say we're not buying extra toilet paper! That, or we're not about to admit to hoarding. (And please, be careful before using the terlet at the homes of the two percent who aren't sure whether they bought TP.)

Economist data journalist G. Elliott Morris, who had access to the raw poling data, did his own number crunching and came up with results that bear out worries that Fox News's coverage of the outbreak may be bad for Nana's health.

Oh, it gets worse:

There may be a lot of surprised Fox viewers real soon, we think.

And then there's this nugget, on the likelihood that people believe the phony conspiracy theory that the virus is a "man-made epidemic":

Local newspapers: 12%
National news: 26
MSNBC: 28
Radio: 45
CNN: 45
Broadcast news: 52
Fox News: 53
Local TV news: 57

Overall, 47% of Americans believe this theory is "definitely" or "probably" true.

That doesn't reflect terribly well on CNN or the local news, either!

Now, until a few days ago, folks inside the Fox News bubble might say the polling simply proves what the network itself has been saying: The lamestream media are irresponsibly scaring people so they'll vote against Trump!

Or at least they might have said that before Fox executives decided the network now shares Trump's newfound conviction that this is a serious crisis that needs to be addressed seriously. In the last couple days, Fox has been telling its viewers a completely new message, albeit at the same volume level: WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EASTASIAVIRUS. Compare these Sean Hannity screenshots from a few weeks back and this week.



We are mobilized to help the Dear Leader defeat the invisible enemy! It could be anywhere! Like in your neighbor with the Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on her car.

The Washington Post put together this helpful compare and contrast report, and even brought a video for show and tell:

How Fox News has shifted its coronavirus rhetoric youtu.be

Not surprisingly, a tweet calling the video a "damning indictment" of Fox has a ton of replies from Fox fans who see no contradiction at all — Fox has simply learned more about the virus, like the Dear Leader has, so now we are all united in doing what's best for America. If anything, WaPo's dishonest suggestion that there's anything at all odd about the change in tone just demonstrates how desperate the lying media are to attack Trump.

But if Nana is getting better health information, that's way better than the past two months of lies and misdirection.

What should really be fascinating is how the polling on the coronavirus "evolves" in the next month or two to reflect the network's newfound zeal. By election time, we'll no doubt be hearing that Donald Trump led the way in fighting the foreign threat, while liberals and their media allies sat back and urged Americans to keep going out to restaurants and ignore the danger. It might be capped with a photo of that former speaker of the Idaho House, with the chyron "(D-Idaho)."

[Slate / Economist/YouGov poll / Boise State Public Radio / G. Elliott Morris on Twitter / WaPo / Thanks to Mr. Morris for replying to my Twitter DMs, too!]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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