Fox News Fears Its Early Downplaying of Coronavirus Could Lead to Lawsuits

Vanity Fair special correspondent Gabriel Sherman, the author of The Loudest Voice in the Room, about Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’s rises and fall at the network, says Fox News’s decision to oust prime time host Trish Regan was done to limit legal liability. The decision came after Fox News downplayed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks.

“Fox News tried to do their original playbook, which was dismiss it as a hoax, say that this is another partisan attempt by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump, and this was the case where they could not prevent reality,” Sherman said. “Fox News is a very powerful media organization, but it cannot stop people from dropping dead.”

Sherman added that his conversations with Fox insiders revealed “a real concern inside the network that their early downplaying of the coronavirus actually exposes Fox News to potential legal action by viewers who maybe were misled and actually have died from this.”

“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. … 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,” he said.

You can watch footage of Sherman’s remarks below.

Speaking on her program on March 9, Regan claimed without evidence that the novel coronavirus that had claimed 26 lives in the United States at that point, is being politicized by Congressional Democrats who’ve unleashed a “chorus of hate” toward President Donald Trump and, she said, are looking for another reason to impeach him.

“We’ve reached a tipping point. The hate is boiling. Many in the liberal media are using coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the president, despite the virus originating halfway around the world,” Regan said. “This is yet another attempt to impeach, and sadly, it seems the left cares little for any of the destruction they leave in their wake, including losses in the market. This, unfortunately, is all just part of political casualties for them.”

Regan further suggested that Democrats “don’t care who they hurt, whether it be their need to create mass hysteria to encourage a massive sell-off in an overly anxious stock market or, to create mass hysteria in order to stop our economy dead in its tracks.”

Fox News announced Friday that it “has parted ways” with Regan, whose program was pulled earlier this month.

“I have enjoyed my time at Fox and now intend to focus on my family during these troubled times,” Regan later wrote in a statement.

At least 2,490 Americans have died from the coronavirus according to the most recent count.