According to studies conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and the University of Chicago (among others), coronavirus infection and mortality rates are higher in areas where Fox News host Sean Hannity has his widest audience. The studies were surfaced by the Washington Post.
“We are receiving an incredible number of studies and solid data showing that consuming far-right media and social media content was strongly associated with low concern about the virus at the onset of the pandemic,” said Irene Pasquetto, chief editor of the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review.
One study examined the difference between Hannity’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and that of fellow Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
“Carlson warned viewers that the coronavirus might pose a serious threat from early February, while Hannity first ignored the topic on his show and then dismissed the risks associated with the virus, claiming that it was less concerning than the common flu and insisting that Democrats were using it as a political weapon to undermine the president,” researchers noted.
“Our results indicate that a one standard deviation increase in relative viewership of Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight is associated with approximately 32 percent more COVID-19 cases on March 14 and approximately 23 percent more COVID-19 deaths on March 28,” the authors write, noting that the differences between the two hosts’ coverage fade considerably after March.
A Fox News spokesman rebuked the studies in a statement, writing that “as this timeline proves, Hannity has covered Covid-19 since the early days of the story. The ‘study’ almost completely ignores his coverage and repeated, specific warnings and concerns from January 27-February 26 including an early interview with Dr. Fauci in January. This is a reckless disregard for the truth.”