These are the people teaching the future journalists of the world. A group of journalism professors this week lashed out at Fox News, hitting the cable network’s handling of the coronavirus. An open letter sent to the heads of the Fox News Channel was signed by 74 teachers and released by Oliver Darcy, a senior media reporter for the liberal CNN network, accusing FNC of spreading misinformation on the coronavirus amid the global pandemic.
According to an article posted on Thursday by Leia Idliby, a reporter for the Mediaite website, the letter was addressed to Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and his son, current Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch.
This missive demonstrated the attitudes of many journalism professors who are preparing the next generation of reporters and editors:
Americans consistently rate the Fox News Channel as one of the most trusted TV channels. The average age of Fox News viewers is 65.
It is well established that this population incurs the highest risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, Fox News viewers are at special risk from the coronavirus.
However, Darcy claimed, “Viewers of Fox News, including the President of the United States, have been regularly subjected to misinformation relayed by the network,” which makes the channel “a danger to public health.”
He added that the problem is due to “false statements downplaying the prevalence of COVID-19 and its harms” and “misleading recommendations of activities that people should undertake to protect themselves and others.”
Also, the channel was accused of airing “assessments of the value of measures urged upon the public by their elected political leadership and public health authorities.” The letter also cited surveys that implied FNC viewers are “less likely than others to say they are worried about the coronavirus.”
The document then specifically criticized several Fox News hosts, including weeknight anchors Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, as well as Steve Hilton, a British commentator and host of the Sunday evening FNC show entitled The Next Revolution. As you might expect, Hannity has been hammered for supposedly dismissing concerns about the virus as a political attack on Trump by using the crisis to “bludgeon” the President.
“The basic purpose of news organizations is to discover and tell the truth,” the letter stated. “This is especially necessary, and obvious, amid a public health crisis.” “Inexcusably,” the document continued, “Fox News has violated elementary canons of journalism. In so doing, it has contributed to the spread of a grave pandemic.”
“Urgently, therefore, in the name of both good journalism and public health, we call upon you to help protect the lives of all Americans -- including your elderly viewers -- by ensuring that the information you deliver is based on scientific facts.”
Even before the scathing letter was made public, FNC personalities had joined forces to create a public service announcement about the outbreak. Apparently, the 74 professors who signed the letter have no such qualms about the quality of reporting done by FNC’s liberal rivals, MSNBC and CNN.