You probably will not be surprised to learn that the very same Fox News pundits who fear mongered about fictitious “death panels” are trying to sweep under the rug hundreds of thousands of actual American deaths.
“Death panels,” you may recall was PolitiFact’s 2009 Lie of the Year, a term probably originating with Sarah Palin. She falsely claimed that a provision in Obamacare meant the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care. In reality, as PolitiFact explained, “Medicare would pay for doctors' appointments for patients to discuss living wills, health care directives and other end-of-life issues. The appointments were optional, and the AARP supported the measure.”
Media Matters' Parker Molloy recounts how Fox’s Obama haters got on their soapboxes:
[R]ight-wing commentators like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity used this phantom provision to claim that Democrats were putting seniors at risk. Hannity said that it was “chilling” that Obama had “so little respect for life” and was trying to “encourage … inconvenient people to consider ‘alternatives to living.’” Ingraham scaremongered about the creation of “death camps” for the elderly should the bill become law. Then-Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. claimed that proponents of the health care reform bill were trying to “save money by killing old people.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked, “Are seniors going to be in front of the death panel?” “I hope the elderly are watching,” Hannity said during an October 2009 episode of his Fox News show after baselessly declaring that “death panels are back” in a later version of the health care bill.
Now, with more than 200,000 Americans dead from coronavirus and the U.S. leading the world in cases and deaths, Fox couldn’t care less. The network wants its viewers not to care, too. More from Molloy:
On the March 10 episode of Fox News’ Hannity, the eponymous host tried to put coronavirus deaths “in perspective” by comparing COVID-19 deaths to violence in Chicago. During the March 11 edition of his radio show, Hannity got “philosophical [for] a minute” and shrugged off concerns about the coronavirus because “we’re all dying” anyway.
During the April 2 episode of The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham said that while “every life is precious, we want to keep everybody safe and we — of course, that's a given. But we also have to understand the cost of American lives on the other side of this.”
In the months since, as thousands of American deaths have piled up thanks in large part to the disastrous mismanagement of the Trump administration, Fox News has done everything it can to defend the administration at the cost of public health. Its hosts and personalities have: repeatedly argued that the death toll is actually inflated; waged a war against advice from experts about how to keep people safe, including by lying about the effectiveness of masks and fighting for an end to lockdowns; and routinely ridiculed people warning about the dangers of the crisis as alarmists.
We all know what the difference is between then and now. Fox News cares about American lives the same way it cares about everything else: as pawns in the weaponization of its conservative politics.
You can watch Hannity suggest that living in Chicago is more dangerous than the coronavirus pandemic below, from the March 10, 2020 Hannity, via Media Matters.