Thursday’s edition of Fox News’s Ingraham Angle featured egregious coronavirus misinformation, courtesy of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.
Rudy Giuliani and Laura Ingraham teamed up to mock the idea of contact tracing — a surveillance tool experts broadly agree is key to getting the US coronavirus outbreak under control. (Contact tracing involves the strategic deployment of testing so anybody who comes in contact with a coronavirus can be tested and, if necessary, quarantined, hopefully nipping outbreaks in the bud.) Giuliani, however, thought it useful to compare Covid-19 to other potentially deadly, but non-infectious, maladies like cancer or heart disease.
After Ingraham brought up a $10.5 million contact tracing program Bloomberg Philanthropies and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) are working together on, Giuliani said, derisively, that “we should trace everybody for cancer, and heart disease, and obesity, and — I mean a lot of things kill you more than Covid-19, so we should be traced for all those things.”
Ingraham responded by shaking her head and saying, “Yeah.”
Rudy Giuliani mocks contact tracing by asking why we don't also do it for cancer, obesity and heart disease pic.twitter.com/QzyBMGilhv— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) April 24, 2020
But here’s the thing: Covid-19 is a highly communicable disease that’s easily transmitted from person to person. Cancer, by contrast, cannot be spread by someone coughing on someone else. Nor can obesity, or cardiovascular disease.
This basic insight explains why, in lieu of pairing contact tracing with far more testing capacity than the US currently has, stringent social distancing measures are necessary to slow the spread of the disease.
Giuliani seems not to understand this. Yet America’s top-rated cable network nonetheless showcased his opinions as though he’s some sort of expert.
Trumpists seem to feel no shame about terrible coronavirus takes
Fox News may no longer be portraying coronavirus as a Democratic hoax, but network personalities are falling short in other ways, like by touting unproven miracles cures and making amoral arguments to push for businesses to reopen.
In mid-March, as the network suddenly pivoted away downplaying the coronavirus as the “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam” and “this new hoax,” Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace sent a memo to staff urging them to “keep in mind that viewers rely on us to stay informed during a crisis of this magnitude and we are providing an important public service to our audience by functioning as a resource for all Americans.” The Ingraham/Giuliani clip serves as perhaps the starkest example of the network not living up to that, but it’s nowhere near the only one that could be cited just from Ingraham’s show.
For instance, during an interview with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci last week, Ingraham pushed a false equivalency between HIV — another virus that can’t be spread by coughing — and the coronavirus, prompting Fauci to say, “I think it’s a little bit misleading to compare.”
Ingraham, undeterred, went on to say that “but we don’t know — [coronavirus] could disappear.”
“It’s an extraordinarily efficient virus in transmission from one person to another,” Fauci pointed out. “Those kinds of viruses don’t just disappear.”
INGRAHAM: We don't have a vaccine for SARS or HIV. Life went on, right?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 17, 2020
FAUCI: HIV/AIDS is very different. We have effective treatments. And SARS went away. So your comparison is misleading.
I: But coronavirus could disappear too.
F: These kind of viruses don't just disappear. pic.twitter.com/YptrqViRQx
In their lack of self-awareness, Ingraham and Giuliani have something in common with Trump, who took dangerous misinformation up a notch on Thursday by musing that injecting disinfectants might be a miracle cure for the coronavirus — prompting the maker of Lysol to release a statement urging people not to follow the president’s advice.
But Ingraham — who had worked hard to push the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential miracle cure until this week, when a new study found it can be dangerous as a coronavirus treatment — defended Trump’s comment on Thursday’s edition of her show.
“If you listen long enough to Democrat governors and their poodles in the press these days, you’re going to realize that there’s really no good news in the Covid era,” she said, “no developments positive enough to get us to think that the science or the data is changing to justify reopening the states that really want to open anytime soon.”