Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman reported on Monday that Fox News insiders are worried that the network could face “potential legal action” from viewers for misleading them about the coronavirus.
Sherman told MSNBC on Sunday that “there’s 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.”
Sherman noted that polls show Republican views on issues like the coronavirus are “completely different” than “people who gather their news from a wide array of sources.”
“Fox News tried to do their original playbook — which was dismissed 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,” he said.
Sherman added that Fox viewers are only now “confronting what the rest of us have known since February and early March — is that this is a global pandemic that is unprecedented in American history.”
According to Sherman, the firing of Fox Business host Trish Regan after she spread false conspiracies about the coronavirus was a sign that the network was worried that their coverage could come back to bite them.
“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, and The New York Times reported days ago that the Murdoch family was privately taking the coronavirus seriously,” Sherman said. “The Murdochs, of course, own Fox News. So, they were taken personal steps to protect themselves, while anchors like Trish Regan and Sean Hannity were telling viewers that it’s a hoax and putting themselves in potentially mortal danger. So 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.”