A year ago, Trish Regan, then a host on Fox Business, accused Democrats of politicizing Covid-19, which at the time was responsible for just 26 deaths across the United States. Now, as the nation engages in the largest global vaccination effort in modern history, Regan’s remarks look even more foolish––and dangerous. According to data from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the death toll currently stands at 529,269 Americans.
At the time, Regan claimed Democrats had unleashed a “chorus of hate” toward then-President Donald Trump, who was making daily headlines for his insistence on downplaying the pandemic.
“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.”
Here are Regan’s remarks from the evening of March 9, 2020.
Regan was ousted by Fox News later that month in a decision Vanity Fair special correspondent Gabriel Sherman, the author of The Loudest Voice in the Room, about Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’s rise and fall at the network, said was done to limit legal liability.
“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,” Shermansaid at the time. “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 added.
Sherman’s comments came as the intelligence community continued to sound the alarm over Trump’s decision to ignore his briefings about the Covid-19 pandemic while continuing to downplay its severity to the public. Recordings later unveiled by journalist Bob Woodward, whose book,Rage, chronicles the former president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, showed that Trump knew that the coronavirus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu” and that he “wanted to always play it down” to avoid creating a nationwide panic.
“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward later told The Associated Press.
When you factor in that Trump largely followed his cues about the virus from Fox News’s coverage, it would not be untoward to say that the network bears significant responsibility for the pain of our current political moment.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.
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