Minnesota’s rural Martin County has inexplicably become a coronavirus hot spot and at least one local official thinks the explanation may be that ‘some media outlets” were downplaying the dangers. I think we all know that Fox News is one of those.
The Grand Forks Herald reported on this health mystery this morning. It noted that Martin County, with 20,000 residents, has 24 confirmed cases while St. Louis County, with ten times the population, has only 12.
Local officials think community transmission is the explanation but how and why? Noting that there were likely about five travel-related cases a month ago, Tim Langer public health sanitarian with Martin County Human Services was at a loss as to the spread, other than that people had discounted those warnings. From the Herald:
Pressed for a theory, Langer pointed to early skepticism within a certain cable news outlet.
"My personal opinion is there are some folks listening to some media outlets that were not taking this seriously. That can be a factor too. It's hard to prove that. I don't want to get political. But there were outlets saying it's a hoax, it's no worse than a cold, and those are things people listen to. Our advice has been to look to credible sources of information like the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). "
The Herald also notes that increased testing could be the cause. But there are still screens for who gets tested, “raising the possibility that [Martin County’s] Fairmont, with its agricultural economic base, isn’t being excessively tested.”
I don’t want to leap to conclusions but we know that Fox viewers are or were more likely to think that the dangers of the pandemic have been “greatly exaggerated.”
My god. https://t.co/5OzTfY2vhG pic.twitter.com/65IXsjmhls— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) March 18, 2020
On Sunday, Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox News is concerned that its diminution of the coronavirus threat may expose the network to lawsuits. I would guess this is exactly the kind of situation that causes its worry.
But I’m not letting Donald Trump off the hook. Fox messaging went hand-in-hand with his.
Check out the two brilliant Washington Post videos below. The first shows Trump’s shifting views on the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with his overly-rosy views that contradicted public health officials’ warnings. Underneath is the brutally damning mashup showing how Fox News is more interested in protecting Trump than Americans.
(H/T Christopher Ingraham)
(Top image via screen grab)