Dear Fox News:
On behalf of every healthcare worker in the country, those who support them, the millions of store clerks, delivery people, mail carriers and food providers who risk their lives daily, and, especially, on behalf of the nearly 98,000 Americans we have tragically lost so far to COVID-19 and the 1.6 million who have contracted the vicious and relentless disease to date,¹ I have a simple, but important request, Fox News.
I come to you with respect and great humility. Your morning and evening programs are incredibly popular, powerful and influential. Millions hang onto your every word. It is for this reason that I, that we need your help.
Would it be possible, please, for you to use only confirmed facts from credible, expert sources — say, our very own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — when reporting on the coronavirus?
I realize the serious implications and enormity of this ask. If you accept, no longer would you report that COVID-19 is a hoax nor that it is a plot concocted by the Democrats to undermine the president. You would not claim, as the president’s sons have repeatedly, that COVID-19 is the Democrats’ method to prevent the president from holding large campaign rallies and that the pandemic will ‘magically vanish’ after the November election.² No longer would you report that the number of COVID-19 deaths is being artificially inflated by the media or the Democrats to hurt the president. Instead, the true victims of the virus are the nearly 98,000 people who have died and their grieving families and friends. Each suffering enormous loss.
No longer could you claim that the lack of a vaccine is a profound failing of the Obama administration because, of course, the disease was unknown before November 2019, several years after Obama left office. No longer would you report that the Obama administration failed to provide the incoming president with a pandemic roadmap, because, of course, it did. No longer would you report that our rate of testing leads the world nor that our response to the virus is the gold standard to emulate because, you know, the data simply do not support either claim. Quite the contrary, actually.³
On a far more important note, if you accept my humble request, you would not claim that wearing a mask is a way to undermine the president or his interest in reopening the country but, instead, that it is a proven way to reduce the risk of spreading and contracting the disease. You would report that maintaining physical distancing and washing hands repeatedly are other proven methods to minimize risk, as is not congregating in close proximity with large numbers of people. Our CDC and every credible medical source worldwide have data to support this. You would also report that the CDC and public health experts throughout the country strongly urge that the reopening of the country must be done carefully, with appropriate testing and contact tracing. Anything less is bound to result in a spike in confirmed cases and additional deaths. So say the experts.
Despite the president’s advocacy, you would report that hydroxychloroquine has not been proven to prevent and/or cure COVID-19 and that taking it has potentially serious health risks. A study involving 96,000 individuals on six continents confirm these conclusions.⁴ Consider this a responsible, public service thing to do, given your influence on millions of viewers, and given the recent surge in the purchase of this drug.⁵ You might also make it clear that bleach is in no way a prevention or cure. Remember: keeping your viewers alive is one way to maintain your strong ratings.
I realize that my request will put you at odds with one of your most fervent and vocal fans. Even so, this is not the time for politics or popularity to define what you choose to communicate about the virus. Nor is this the time for opinion or conjecture. We are in the fight of our lives and you, Fox News, play a critical role. If you ask people to set aside their partisanship and wear a mask for the good of the country, people will listen. If you provide the findings of scientific studies about physical distancing, hand washing, and that close proximity increases risk substantially, your viewers will pay attention and change their behavior. If you explain that the virus kills people regardless of political or religious affiliation, your loyalists will believe it. If you focus on facts, rather than innuendo and, worse, conspiracy theories, we just might have a chance to come together — at least around virus prevention — and get back to some form of normalcy. In contrast, as long as you tout the belief that individual freedom is more important than the health and safety of family, friends and neighbors, and that our response to the virus is political, we and the economy are doomed.
Fox News, we are all in pain. Since our first COVID-19 death on February 6 of this year⁶, we have lost nearly 98,000 souls to the virus, with many more in its path. Another 1.6 million are currently infected. Millions are out of work. Many are hungry. Feelings of futility, anger, fear, dread and powerlessness abound. It would be easy to assign blame for our current plight. It might even be human to do so. China, the World Health Organization, the Democrats, the left, governors, blue states, red states, local officials who have imposed shelter-in-place rules, those who haven’t. While it might be satisfying, possibly comforting, to find someone or something to blame, we would still be faced with a virus for which, at this moment, we have no effective treatment or cure. Our best defense, our only defense, is to come together and fight as one.
All we have is science, Fox News. All we have is hand washing, facial coverings and physical distancing. That’s it. Please help your viewers understand this. Because although many claim, romantically, that we’re in this together, it’s simply not true. At present, we are decidedly not in this together and it can and just might be our undoing. You, and you alone, can change that.
¹ As of 8:45 p.m., ET, May 24; https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-us-maps-and-cases/