legal liability

Fox News purportedly bracing for “legal bloodbath” after peddling coronavirus misinformation

Fox News is purportedly doing serious preemptive damage control after misleading its millions of viewers about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fox Business recently announced it had “parted ways” with homophobic prime time host Trish Regan, who famously called the coronavirus a politically motivated “scam” by Democrats on her March 9 show.

The network said it wished Regan all the best and that her firing was part of its effort to “continue our reduced live primetime schedule for the foreseeable future” to focus on “the coronavirus crisis.”

But reporter Gabriel Sherman isn’t buying the excuse.

Speaking to Joy Reid on MNSBC’s AM Joy, Sherman said he suspects Regan’s firing is part of a larger effort by the network to limit legal liability surrounding its wildly inaccurate coronavirus coverage, which included repeatedly lying to viewers by saying the virus was less deadly than the flu.

“Fox News tried to do their original playbook, which was dismiss it 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,” Sherman said.

But as Fox News anchors downplayed the pandemic to viewers, Fox News execs were sending out internal memos to employees detailing the actions it was taking to prevent them from getting sick. On top of that, the Murdoch family, who owns the network, took serious precautions to protect themselves against the virus.

Sherman continued, “Fox News is a very powerful media organization, but it cannot stop people from dropping dead. And what happened is that people did start dying. We did see hot spots in New York, on the West Coast and now we’re seeing one in the deep South, which is getting closer to Trump country, and Fox News has had to pivot to actually cover this as a real story.”

It wasn’t until after Donald Trump declared a national emergency that the network made a noticeable shift in tone.

Sherman said that Fox News viewers are now being forced to confront “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.”

He added: “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.”

Former federal prosecutor and Justice Department inspector general, Michael Bromwich, agrees. He believes Fox News may be in store for a “legal bloodbath.”

In a tweet, he writes: “Fox is right to be concerned. Very concerned. This could be a legal bloodbath. Discovery will undoubtedly show that its personnel were putting out falsely comforting information it knew to be false and misleading in order to sync up with [White House] messaging.”

Related: Fox News host Jeanine Pirro swears she wasn’t drunk during her show, but everyone else disagrees