'It is everywhere already': Fox News hosts amp up the pressure on Trump to give up on coronavirus lockdowns and reopen the economy

Fox News host Tucker Carlson

Screenshot/Fox News

Fox News host Tucker Carlson

  • A slew of Fox News opinion hosts and anchors are pushing back on public health experts and urging President Donald Trump to abandon its social distancing policies and reopen the economy. 
  • Primetime host Tucker Carlson attacked "the public health establishment," which he argued "failed us badly" by recommending stay-home orders that are hurting the economy. 
  • Fox commentator Melissa Francis argued on Friday that the virus is "everywhere already" in New York and she's "losing faith" in social distancing policies as the economy shrinks. 
  • On "Fox and Friends," one of the president's favorite Fox New programs, co-host Brian Kilmeade called the economic damage from the virus "a self-inflicted wound."
  • The Fox News pundits are ignoring widespread consensus among public health experts and government officials that the only way to save thousands, if not millions, of American lives is to stay home. 
  • The US has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world: more than 260,000, or about one-quarter of global cases. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A slew of Fox News opinion hosts and anchors are pushing back on public health experts, including the White House coronavirus task force, and urging President Donald Trump to abandon its social distancing policies and reopen the economy. 

Primetime host Tucker Carlson argued on his Thursday night program that "one of the main lessons of this crisis is that the public health establishment failed us badly" by recommending stay-home orders and other social distancing policies that are hurting the economy. Advertisement

"What would've happened, for example, if we'd adopted a more conventional response to this epidemic?" Carlson said. "What if we'd asked the elderly and immunocompromised and anyone else facing statistically higher rates of risk to stay inside, cloistered away? And then at the same time allow the rest of the population to use informed common sense and continue to work?" 

He went on, "What if we'd done that a month ago? Would the death rate today be much higher than it is now? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know. But it's clearly a conversation we should've had before we locked the entire country down and put 10 million people out of work. But we didn't have that conversation. Instead, we outsourced the decision to public health officials." 

Carlson and other Fox News pundits are ignoring widespread consensus among infectious disease and public health experts that the only way to slow the spread of the virus and prevent thousands, if not millions, of deaths is to keep people at home until modeling shows it's safe to reopen businesses, schools, and public places. 
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Fox News commentator Melissa Francis argued on Friday that the virus is "everywhere already" in New York and she's "losing faith" in the stay-home orders states have implemented across the country as the economy implodes. She suggested the economic fallout from the lockdown is scarier than the deadly virus itself. 

"It does seem like it's spread all over New York, so at this point I don't know about the efficacy of staying inside indefinitely," Francis said on Fox's "Outnumbered." "Who doesn't know 10, 12 people who have it at this point, personally? It has run rampant all over this city at least." Fox News host Harris Faulkner, who Trump recently called "one of my favorite people," pushed back gently on Francis and interrupted to ask a doctor on the panel to give her perspective. The doctor, Janette Nesheiwat, argued "you can't put a price tag on lives." Advertisement

On "Fox and Friends," one of the president's favorite Fox programs, co-host Brian Kilmeade argued on Friday that the economic damage from the virus is avoidable. 

"This is a self-inflicted wound, it's a slow-motion car wreck that we brought on ourselves," Kilmeade said. "We should talk about how many people are working ... I'd rather find out the 20% that are still on their jobs ... we're an anomaly now." 

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At least 90% of the country - 297 million Americans - are affected by some kind of stay-at-home order. State governments have asked residents to shelter in place and go out only for essential services, with the goal of encouraging social distancing, and thereby reducing the spread of the coronavirus and "flattening the curve" so healthcare systems aren't overwhelmed.

But a handful of governors have so far refused to issue statewide stay home orders in their states. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is frustrated with the lack of a federal mandate and on Thursday said "I don't understand why" the president hasn't issued a nation-wide stay home order. Advertisement

Many of Fox News' most high-profile hosts and pundits spent weeks in February and March aggressively downplaying the threat posed by the virus and accusing Democrats and the media of hyping the global health crisis to hurt Trump. 

Shortly after the Trump administration finally began cracking down on the virus as it began its rapid spread throughout the country last month, several Fox News hosts began making the case that the economic fallout from widespread lockdowns will be a greater price to pay than the additional lives that would be lost if the economy reopens.

"Our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces whipping up fear over this virus - they can afford an indefinite shutdown. Working Americans can't, they'll be crushed by it," host Steve Hilton, a former adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron, said on March 23. "You know that famous phrase, 'the cure is worse than the disease?' That is exactly the territory we're hurtling towards." Advertisement

Just a few hours later, Trump tweeted, "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF." 

Since then, many of the president's allies have argued that older Americans and others more vulnerable to the disease should sacrifice themselves for the good of the economy.During his Thursday night program, Carlson defended Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who argued that "lots of grandparents" were willing to die of COVID-19 if it meant the economy could get back up and running more quickly. Advertisement

Aylin Woodward and Rhea Mahbubani contributed to this report. 

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