Dr. Scott Atlas, the unqualified radiologist who wants to let COVID spread throughout the population, and whom Trump hired as a pandemic adviser based on his Fox News appearances, has been deemed not credible enough for most of Fox's “hard news” shows. But he’s still a fave on Fox prime time.
Atlas has no background in infectious diseases or epidemiology. But he has espoused on Fox just the kind of pandemic “prescription” Trump wants to hear: Let ‘em die, while putting on a show of protecting some people.
From The Washington Post (my emphases added):
One of President Trump’s top medical advisers is urging the White House to embrace a controversial “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus, while taking steps to protect those in nursing homes and other vulnerable populations, according to five people familiar with the discussions.
Atlas, who does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has expanded his influence inside the White House by advocating policies that appeal to Trump’s desire to move past the pandemic and get the economy going, distressing health officials on the White House coronavirus task force and throughout the administration who worry that their advice is being followed less and less.
Atlas has argued both internally and in public that an increased case count will move the nation more quickly to herd immunity and won’t lead to more deaths if the vulnerable are protected. But infectious-disease experts strongly dispute that, noting that more than 25,000 people younger than 65 have died of the virus in the United States. In addition, the United States has a larger number of vulnerable people of all ages because of high rates of heart and lung disease and obesity, and millions of at-risk people live outside nursing homes — many in households with children, whom Atlas believes should return to school in person.
Atlas caught Trump’s attention with a spate of Fox News appearances in recent months, and in the former Stanford professor the president has found a more simpatico figure for his push to reopen the country so he can focus on his reelection campaign. Atlas often sits in the briefing room with Trump during his coronavirus news conferences, while other doctors do not. He has given the president something of a medical imprimatur for his statements and regularly helps draft the administration’s coronavirus talking points from his West Wing office, as well as the slides that Trump often relies on to make his case for a diminishing threat.
The Daily Beast notes that in addition to promoting herd immunity on Fox, Atlas has “often downplayed the effectiveness of lockdowns, and has brushed off the “hysteria” about school reopenings, arguing that many children and teachers are at low risk to get and transmit the disease.”
But more recently, Atlas’ appearances on Fox have taken a “dramatic plunge,” The Daily Beast reports:
According to three people familiar with the situation, Fox News producers have been instructed in recent weeks to take extra care when inviting Atlas onto the network to discuss the pandemic, which is rapidly approaching a U.S. body count of 200,000. Some Fox staffers involved in the network’s more straightlaced daytime news programs have been increasingly reluctant to book him altogether.
A Daily Beast analysis of all of his Fox News hits shows that … since joining the administration, he’s been largely absent from almost all of the so-called “hard news” shows—including Special Report, Newsroom, and Fox News @ Night.
One glaring exception? The Story with Martha MacCallum. You may recall that Fox claimed MacCallum embodies “the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism” when it was begging the DNC to let her moderate a presidential primary debate. But according to The Daily Beast, Atlas has appeared on MacCallum's show "at least a dozen times" in the past several months "and is referred to as an expert on coronavirus despite his lack of specific credentials in infectious diseases."
The Daily Beast also notes that Atlas remains a “semi-regular” on prime time.
(Atlas image via screen grab)