When MSNBC and CNN were reporting, earlier this year, that COVID-19 was shaping up to be the worst global health crisis since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918/1919, many of the opinion hosts at Fox News were downplaying its severity and claiming that the media coverage of the novel coronavirus was overblown — and months later, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, parts of the right-wing cable news outlet continue to be a source of dangerous misinformation.
Fauci, an expert immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on CNN on Monday, September 28 and told Brian Stelter, "If you listen to Fox News — with all due respect to the fact that they do have some good reporters — some of the things that they report there are outlandish, to be honest with you."
The NIAID director, who is part of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, made it clear that he wasn't criticizing everyone at Fox News. But he was highly critical of those at Fox who are pushing misinformation about COVID-19 — which, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has now killed more than 1 million people worldwide and over 205,000 people in the United States.
Fauci told Stelter, "Some of the media I deal with really kind of — I wouldn't say distort things — but certainly give opposing perspectives on what seems to be a pretty obvious fact."
According to Fauci, "This is about public health. The bad guy is the virus. The bad guy is not the person on the other side of your opinion…. There is so much misinformation during this very divisive time that we're in, and the public really needs to know the facts."
Although Fauci has, for the most part, avoided directly criticizing Trump, he has been highly critical of one of the president's allies: Dr. Scott Atlas, who has been promoting "herd immunity" about COVID-19. Atlas has been claiming that if enough Americans are infected with COVID-19, the U.S. could neutralize the novel coronavirus by achieving "herd immunity." But according to Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield (director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and other medical experts, taking that approach would be deadly.
Nonetheless, Fauci tried to sound diplomatic when discussing Atlas with Stelter, telling the CNN host he is always happy to have a polite conversation with Atlas and see if they can "resolve" their "differences."