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To begin her program on Wednesday night, Rachel Maddow walked viewers through the front pages of the nation’s top news organizations. Maddow pointed out that the top headlines across the board were about the United States passing a grim milestone: 100,000 deaths from coronavirus. NYT, WaPo, CNN and others were all leading with that story, she explained to viewers.
But there was one outlier. “Just so you’re aware, this is what is, in contrast, this is what is the front page for our friends at the Fox News Channel right now,” Maddow said. “It’s as you can see a little bit different.” Indeed, above the fold, Fox was covering everything but the death toll.
“If you scroll down and scroll down and scroll down, eventually you do get — they do ultimately get to, oh yeah, 100,000 Americans dead,” Maddow said. “They do get to it eventually.”
Maddow’s observation was not unique to Fox’s homepage. The network’s on-air programming Wednesday night was similar. None of its prime time shows led with the somber news regarding the death toll. Martha MacCallum, who hosts what is supposed to be Fox’s go-to “straight news” program, started her show with the story regarding a student suspected of two homicides. It took her more than 50 minutes to get to the news about 100,000 dead Americans. She saved it for her last segment.
Tucker Carlson led his program with a monologue on “Big Tech censorship.” Sean Hannity with live-coverage of the Minneapolis protests. And Laura Ingraham with a call to reopen the country and an attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci. Ingraham even found time for a “FARTGATE 2020” segment. (You really can’t make it up.)
Like the President, whose Twitter feed focused on everything but the death toll Wednesday night, Fox largely looked away as the death toll crossed 100,000. If historians were to go back and watch Fox News on the night the country passed 100,000 deaths, they’d be forgiven if they didn’t know it happened.
This is, of course, part of a larger pattern. A study by the progressive watchdog Media Matters found that “between May 11 and May 26, the coronavirus’s total U.S. numeric death toll was mentioned between the hours of 8-11 p.m. on Fox only 11 times in almost 36 hours of programming.” And I previously reported that Fox had one week traded in its coverage of coronavirus to go all in on the President’s “OBAMAGATE” conspiracy.
It is all remarkable. We are living through what is widely considered to be one of the greatest stories in a generation, and the country’s most-watched cable news network keeps putting it on the back burner.