As approximately zero of us have noticed, government pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has been strikingly absent from Fox News in the last half-year or so. While the Fox News evening lineup continues to do their level best to stoke death threats against him, comparing him to infamous Nazi torturers and propagating bizarre conspiracy theories about him, the man the Murdoch family is blithely putting in the crosshairs of delusional Trumpian mobs is rarely—if ever—himself appearing on the network’s supposed “news” programs.
Politico brings us a mini-scoop of sorts: It isn’t because Fox News hasn’t been asking him. Politico reports that Fox programs have been “trying to book Fauci for months but he’s been turning them down.”
Most of the rest of Politico’s piece is analysis, and we can skip that part because we can provide it ourselves. Is Dr. Anthony Fauci right in refusing to appear on a “news” network that has incessantly stoked conspiracy claims against him and turned him into a top national target for anti-mask, anti-vaccination crackpots and thugs? Yes! Absolutely yes! Cinnamon Toast Jesus, yes!
Not only is Fauci making the right move in refusing to engage with a network that willfully allows its hosts to lie about him while peddling extraordinarily dangerous rhetoric, there is a very good case to be made that government health agencies should refuse bookings with the network en masse as long as the network’s programs continue to promote pandemic conspiracy theories.
That does not mean—and we can hear the sound of puckering press orifices from here, requiring this to be said—that the federal government should be freezing Fox News out of the pandemic information loop. Far from it. Fox News can cover all the federal briefings it wants, and the government can and should provide whatever information the network’s reporters reasonably want to know.
But individual government health experts are well within their rights to demure on giving personal, on-camera interviews to a network that has chosen to demonize government health experts as a matter of corporate policy. No public servant should be putting themselves out as the next target for Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity to spread hoaxes about. As hosts and guests lie relentlessly about the pandemic in ways that endanger public safety for the sake of boosting partisan talking points, network heads have repeatedly refused to step in.
There are now uncountably many Fox News viewers who, because of the conspiracy theories stoked by Tucker Carlson’s show alone, believe Dr. Fauci and other government experts to be conspirators seeking to do them harm. Some believe he and other doctors “engineered” the pandemic in order to take “freedoms.” Some believe health experts mean to “prolong” the pandemic in order to gain unclear personal powers.
Just as partisan “news” hosts were a prime source through which absolutely fraudulent information about voting machine companies were laundered, partisan hosts are now the megaphones for fraudulent pandemic information that is killing Americans. Dr. Fauci is now a top target of the nation’s most violent and unhinged conspiracy theorists—and Fox News continues to giddily target him. He is absolutely within his rights, even as a federal government official, in preventing the network from collecting new videoclips that the network’s conspiracy heads will assuredly use to stoke new rounds of misinformation.
Fox hosts have relentlessly mocked pandemic safety measures. They have mocked those who would mask even in places masking is not mandated. They have mocked the notion of masking at all. They have spread countless conspiracy “questions” promoting false vaccine dangers. The network has, indisputably, caused deaths.
The COVID-19 pandemic is now primarily a Republican disease ravaging Republican regions. It spreads in the places Americans have resisted vaccination, based on “conservative” pundit urgings that they do so. It did not have to be this way; it was done intentionally. It was done on purpose, for the sake of creating a new cultural divide that could be used as election fodder.
The Fox News board has been steadfast in allowing their hosts to promote fraudulent, dangerous hoaxes that have helped kill untold numbers of their own viewers. It is not just that a single government official is right in refusing to provide for-profit content to a network stoking death threats against him; no government health official should be put in that position. Fox will demonize whatever replacement figure the government provides, and will do so for the sake of stoking further confusion and partisan rancor … even if it continues to directly result in new pandemic surges.
The network’s “news” shows can claim they are not responsible for the death threats fomented by their colleagues, but that is irrelevant. They work for a network that broadcasts those hoaxes, on purpose, for partisan gain. No decent person—much less anyone who collects a paycheck from taxpayers—should be assisting it.