- Fox News opinion hosts aren’t just downplaying the coronavirus pandemic – they’re urging their viewers to fly on planes, despite US health officials’ warnings about even domestic travel.
- “It’s actually the safest time to fly,” Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt said Friday morning.
- But the Fox hosts’ recommendations contradict warnings from public health officials.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he would only get on a plane if it was “absolutely” necessary.
- Earlier this week, the US State Department recommended that older people and those with health issues avoid “non-essential travel such as long plane trips.”
- The Fox hosts’ message is particularly dangerous for its viewers, who skew older and are thus more vulnerable to the effects of the virus.
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Fox News opinion hosts aren’t just downplaying the coronavirus pandemic – they’re urging their viewers to fly on planes, despite US health officials’ warnings about even domestic travel.
“It’s actually the safest time to fly,” Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt said Friday morning. “Everyone I know that’s flying right now – terminals are pretty much dead, ghost towns.”
Co-host Steve Doocy interrupted Earhardt to offer his own, contradictory, anecdote.
“My wife was flying yesterday – every seat on the plane was taken,” he said.
Earhardt then joked that New Yorkers are attempting to flee the city to get to Florida.
Also on Thursday, Fox prime time host Laura Ingraham tweeted that it’s a “great time to fly” if you’re not in an “at-risk” group.
“Great time to fly if not in at-risk population!” alongside a photo from inside a plane on Friday morning. “This is @united to ORD-new plane, wonderful flight attendants, passengers wiping down everything. (Some of us always did this when travelling!).”
Ainsley Earhardt: "It's actually the safest time to fly. Everyone I know that's flying right now, terminals are pretty much dead." (It is not the safest time to fly.) pic.twitter.com/a3BnajAbj5
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 13, 2020
But the Fox hosts’ recommendations are at odds with warnings from public health officials.
On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN he would only get on a plane if it was “absolutely” necessary.
“I wouldn’t do anything that’s unnecessary,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t get on a plane for a pleasure trip. It would have to be something that was really urgent … if it was just for fun, no way I would do it.”
The Fox hosts’ recommendations also contradict rules in their own workplace. Fox executives have prohibited “all non-essential business travel” since last Monday, according to a Friday Daily Beast report.
Earlier this week, the US State Department recommended that older people and those with health issues avoid “non-essential travel such as long plane trips.”
“CDC notes that older adults and travellers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease,” the state department’s warning said, citing the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.”
The CDC issued new guidelines on Wednesday urging Americans to re-consider domestic travel. It also said that going to an airport increases a person’s risk of being exposed to and infected by the virus.
“If COVID-19 is spreading at your destination, but not where you live, you may be at higher risk of exposure if you travel there,” the CDC said. “Consider the risk of passing COVID-19 to others during travel, particularly if you will be in close contact with people who are older adults or have severe chronic health condition.”
On Friday, Jet Blue airlines banned an unidentified passenger after he allegedly boarded a plane from New York City to West Palm Beach, Florida after testing positive for COVID-19. He only informed the crew of his test results after the plane had landed.
Many of President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters in right-wing media, including on Fox, have repeatedly downplayed the threat posed by the coronavirus and accusing Democrats and other media outlets of overstating the crisis to score political points.
Notably, Fox News’ viewers are more vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus than the average American, as they skew older. The virus is significantly more deadly for those over 50 years old, and even more so for even older people, according to a study of Chinese coronavirus patients. The media age of Fox’s audience was 65 in 2018.
Paulina Cachero contributed to this report.