Fox News and President Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis

Late on Friday, October 1st, President Donald Trump tweeted that Hope Hicks, one of his closest aides, had tested positive for COVID-19. A few hours later in the early morning of October 2nd, he tweeted that he and his wife had also tested positive for COVID-19. Fox News, which had hosted the first presidential debate of the election, is now testing its stars that attended debate night. Additionally, several Fox News hosts attended a news conference at the White House where the president announced his nomination to the Supreme Court, and many in the crowd did not wear masks. This news is especially troubling as the president has largely downplayed the gravity of the coronavirus. Even as the news of the president’s diagnosis spread, White House physician Sean Coney admitted he misled the public about the president’s condition. A doctor at Johns Hopkins ICU said that he suspicioned Trump had COVID-19 around Wednesday and was likely contagious several days before. If this were the case, he likely could have spread the virus at the Fox News presidential debate and prior events, in fact, by Saturday evening over a dozen people connected to the White House had tested positive.

Interestingly, while Trump has touted several news outlets as “fake news,” Fox News has—for the most part—been on his good side. As we think about Fox News and the president’s relationship, we must also think about the distortion of the news. Why did White House staff and correspondents find out about Mr. Trump’s diagnosis through the news? Why weren’t CDC guidelines followed at the debate and his Supreme Court nomination announcement? Why is the White House not releasing the number of staff infected by the coronavirus? Why is the president, who is meant to serve his country, so uncooperative with the news, which is meant to serve the people of his country? While many questions remain, perhaps the president’s diagnosis may lead to less misinformation of the virus and more coverage of the “fake news,” which may not be as fake as Trump has previously suggested.

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