168 hours; Fox and Trump change tone; more infections at news orgs; Nunes attacks ‘media freaks’; disinformation spreads fear; studios try something new

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168 hours

Last Monday, Tucker Carlson delivered a warning on his Fox News show. He said the coronavirus posed a great threat. He said it was much more severe than the flu. And he said that people have “spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem.” While he delivered that monologue, his colleague Trish Reganwas on Fox Business dismissing coronavirus as nothing more than an attempt to impeach Trump.

“Since then, just 168 hours have passed, not even enough time to watch every episode of ‘The Simpsons’ and in that time, everything has changed,” Carlson said Monday.Indeed, everything has changed, including Fox News’ overall coverage of the lethal virus.

Regan is no longer on the air. And Fox’s biggest stars are no longer denying the crisis. “With Trump’s declaration on Friday that the virus constitutes a national emergency, the tone on Fox News has quickly shifted,” wrote WaPo’s Paul Farhiand Sarah Ellison in a Monday story.Farhi and Ellison summarized, “In all, it has been a complicated dance for a network whose hosts are among Trump’s most ardent boosters and defenders — an increasingly challenging position to take as the crisis grew in magnitude.”

Watters’ World rocked

On “The Five” Monday, host Jesse Watters admitted that he “didn’t take the social distancing that serious” over the weekend. Watters said he “went out to dinner” in NYC. “And I woke up this morning I realized that was not the right move. I am no longer going out to dinner,” Watters said. The contrast between last week and this week was visually on display as well. “The Five,” like other shows on Fox and other networks, practiced social distancing on Monday’s episode.

Comes with change in Trump’s tone

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“Welcome to the pandemic, Mr. President,” Chris Cuomo said to kick off his show Monday night. NYT’s Thursday A1 said, “With economy in peril, Trump urges caution.” Like Fox has done in the last few days, it seemed that at Monday’s press conference, Trump recognized the reality of the public health emergency. He acknowledged the dire situation and explained what needs to be done to tackle it. He even said the media has been “very fair.”

“It’s like we got a different POTUS,” Jim Geraghty notedPhillip Bump seemed to agree, writing, “First time I’ve seen Trump speak on this without significantly downplaying things.” And Josh Barrotweeted, “Today is the first day in a while that I feel more optimistic about this thing than I did the previous day. Feels like government responses are getting closer to what they need to be.”

Why Fox’s coverage is so important

Given that Republicans largely turn to Fox for their news, it’s likely the network’s previous dismissive coverage has affected how Republicans view the crisis. A Gallup poll published Monday found that “political party identification reflects the starkest differences in levels of worry about coronavirus exposure.”

According to the poll, “Democrats (73%) are the most worried of any group, and their level of worry has increased the most out of any group. Meanwhile, less than half of Republicans (42%) report having this level of concern — the lowest of any group Gallup measured.” Hopefully things will change with the network’s shift in tone…

That’s not to say partisanship has disappeared from Fox

While Fox News is certainly taking the coronavirus more seriously, that’s not to say that partisanship has vanished from the network. Yes, Sean Hannityencouraged viewers on Monday to “flatten that curve” to save lives. But he also made time for praising of Trump and attacked those he claimed are “more interested in bludgeoning the President than actually solving a problem.”

Nunes attacks “media freaks”

Hannity, for instance, allowed Devin Nunes to misrepresent his Sunday coronavirus comments unchallenged on his program Monday night. Nunes, you’ll remember, spread dangerous misinformation on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox show Sunday, telling Americans it was a “great time to go out and go to a local restaurant.” Nunes told Baritromo “likely you can get in easy” and told people, “Go to your local pub.”

On Monday’s episode of Hannity, Nunes attacked “media freaks” and said they “don’t have a clue what’s going on in the real world.” Nunes claimed he meant Americans should order take out or use drive-thru. And then he attacked “media freaks” saying *THEY*are the ones “endangering lives” by “continuing this panic when we have no food shortage in this country.” Of course, Hannity didn’t challenge Nunes on any of these assertions… 

FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

 — Chris Cuomo on CNN Monday night: “We may be forcing ourselves deeper into isolation — and we should — but this effort, this war, may bring us closer together than we imagined.” (Twitter)

 — Rachel Maddow: Among officials in New York state, “the fear is palpable, because they see this coming…” the surge of sick people needing hospitalization is days, not weeks, away…

 — Read Michelle Goldberg “Grieving For My Sick City:” “For those who revel in urban life, it’s hard to believe it can just stop…” (NYT)

 — With “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in repeats, “Nightline” has moved back to 11:35 p.m. Brian Steinberg has details… (Variety)

— “SNL” has suspended production… (CNN)

 Rachel Abrams reports from inside the Seattle Times, one of the local newspapers at the center of the coronavirus pandemic… (NYT)

— Surreal San Francisco Chronicle homepage Monday: “Bay Area ‘shelter in place’ ordered: Only essential businesses open…” (SF Chronicle)

What Monday felt like

This upside-down time reminds me of the first moments of a long international flight. Your phone is fully charged. You have a book to read, maybe a movie to watch. You brought several different snacks for the long journey. You’re ready to take the flight on. And hour one is easy: You listen to some music, perhaps, and read a couple of chapters from your book. You snack on some chips.

For parents, of course, the start of a long flight is inordinately stressful. It can be stressful for older flyers too. And that’s definitely applicable to this analogy. But for me, hunkered down at home with my new fiancé Elise (!!!!), Monday felt like hour one, relatively peaceful and even a little bit pleasant. Same for my friends who settled into working from home and began to isolate their physical selves from the rest of society. 

Unfortunately, tougher days are ahead. Over the next days and weeks, supplies will be depleted and eventually run low. Unexpected turbulence will hit. Many are already feeling it as we get off the ground. No one knows exactly what will happen. But as we leave the runway, it’s worth remembering: We are all on this flight together. And we will get through it together.

“The global coronavirus recession is beginning”

Havoc continued to be wrecked on the economy Monday, as stocks plunged nearly 3,000 points in another historic decline. The headline on CNN BusinessMonday night warned, “The global coronavirus recession is beginning.” And WSJ’s Tuesday front page blares, “Stocks Slide Amid Clampdown.”

>> Bloomberg’s Tom Randall points out: “Coronavirus is now responsible for two of the five worst trading days of all time. Today’s drop exceeded the original Black Monday, the biggest percentage decline in the Dow of 1929…”

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Trump’s “mission accomplished” moment?

That is what CNBC contributor Josh Brown asserted on Monday: “I would say [Trump] autographing the five-minute chart of the market’s performance on Friday will go down in history along the same lines as George W. Bush with the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner on the aircraft carrier. It’s pretty much the same thing.”

New infections at news orgs

Brian Stelter writes: The NYT is the latest news outlet to report that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. Dean Baquet and A.G. Sulzbergerannounced the news in a company-wide memo Monday night.

Unfortunately this is going to happen at lots of newsrooms. In fact, it already has. Staffers at CBS NewsVox, and other media companies have been infected in recent days. An employee at NBC’s “Today” show, assigned to the 9 a.m. hour, has tested positive, so NBC has made some adjustments. ” Al Roker and Craig Melvin will continue to self isolate and remain at home,” per Deadline… “On Tuesday, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb will co anchor from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., but the 9 a.m. third hour, hosted by Roker and Melvin, will air previously taped segments.”

At ABC News, an employee based in the L.A. bureau has fallen ill from the virus. “This person was part of our Seattle coverage team and has been in isolation at home since last week,” James Goldston wrote in an internal memo. The employee “is feeling much better already,” he said. Since the employee returned to the L.A. bureau from Seattle, the bureau is now closed for cleaning.

Additionally, a person working at WarnerMedia’s Hudson Yards office in NYC has also tested positive. The person is “currently in self-quarantine” and another cleaning of the affected areas is underway, the company said.

TUESDAY PLANNER

 — At 10:30am ET, the White Housecoronavirus task force will hold a briefing. Trump will speak on Tuesday with restaurant executives, tourism executives, and supply retailers and wholesalers…  

— Primaries are set for FloridaIllinois, and Arizona, though there are concerns about the safety of the elections. Ohiowas also supposed to vote, but the governor says the state’s health director is declaring a “health emergency” to order the polls closed…

Trump admin says a foreign disinfo campaign is spreading fear

“The Trump administration is alleging that a foreign disinformation campaign is underway aimed at spreading fear in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the AP’s Zeke Miller and Colleen Longreported Monday, citing three unnamed officials. Miller and Long reported that the campaign sought to stoke anxiety about a nationwide quarantine.

Trump addressed the pervasive rumors at Monday’s press conference. He said foreign entities could be “playing games.” He also poured cold water on the quarantine idea…

This exposes the hidden way bad info spreads…

Fears of a nationwide quarantine appeared to spread considerably through good old-fashioned text messages. “With social media networks like Facebook and Twitter cracking down on the spread of dangerous misinformation in the face of the pandemic, misleading information and false claims have moved to what experts are calling a literal ‘game of telephone’ in text-messaging apps,” NBC’s Ben Collins reported Monday.

Collins reported that “some users, even those who have no intention of spreading wrong information, are forwarding along viral rumors and urban legends in an effort to push vital information that is frequently untrue.” But unlike false information that spread on social media platforms, it can be difficult to track info spread in private messages and groups…

Twitter removes David Clarke’s tweets

Twitter took action against a series of tweets former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke posted over the weekend. Clarke, who once was a fairly regular fixture on Fox News, encouraged people to defy warnings from health and government officials and “visit bars, restaurants, shopping malls.”Clarke asserted that the reaction to the coronavirus was the result of “several decades of liberal wussificaiton.” And he claimed the country was shutting down out of “panic, fear & hysteria.” 

By Monday morning, as Jared Holtreported for Right Wing Watch, “three of Clarke’s tweets were no longer visible on his Twitter timeline.” The social media company told Holt that it took action against Clarke for violating its policy against encouraging state harm

…but leaves Nunes’ tweet with similar message online

Twitter, however, said a similar message from Devin Nunes did NOT violate it’s rules. Nunes tweeted his Sunday Fox appearance in which he advised Americans to go to restaurants and bars. But a Twitter spokesperson told me, “This specific tweet and the video in it don’t break our rules at this time, but we are keeping a close eye on the evolving conversation and considering ways in which our rules and the actions we take may need to evolve…”

>> Related: Twitter posted an update Monday night, with execs Vijaya Gaddeand Matt Derella writing, “As the entire world faces an unprecedented public health emergency, we want to be open about the challenges we are facing and the contingency measures we’re putting in place to serve the public conversation at this critical time….”

YouTube says to expect “increased video removals”

YouTube said on Monday that users should expect “increased video removals” as the company relies more on technology “to help with some of the work normally done by reviewers” who are now working remotely. “This means automated systems will start removing some content without human review, so we can continue to act quickly to remove violative content and protect our ecosystem, while we have workplace protections in place,” YouTube said in a blog post. 

FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

 — “[Jared] Kushner’s early involvement with dealing with the virus was in advising the president that the media’s coverage exaggerated the threat…” (NYT)

— WSJ editor Matt Murray‘s memo to staffers: “This is one of those transformational times when an organization shows its mettle…” (Twitter)

— The Met Gala has been postponed… (CNN)

— The 2020 Kentucky Derby is also being postponed, the Louisville Courier Journal reported… (Courier Journal)

— Kate Bolduan shared how she’s talking with her kids about the coronavirus… (CNN)

— Several right-wing media figures are still sharing misleading coronavirus info… (Media Matters)

“War bulletins”

Brian Stelter writes: One of the stories on the front page of Tuesday’s WaPo is subtitled “As obituaries fill a local newspaper, isolated Italians are forced to mourn alone.”

Per Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, this newspaper, L’Eco di Bergamo, usually has two or three pages of obits. “In recent days, it has been 10 or 11 pages. Some 90 percent of the deaths, its editor says, are related to the coronavirus:”

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Alberto Ceresoli likens the obits to “war bulletins.” Read on…

Anna Wintour, “appalled” by Trump coronavirus response, endorses Biden 

In a short piece posted to Vogue’swebsite, Anna Wintour wrote that she has “made up her mind to rally behind” Joe Biden. Wintour described Biden as “unmistakably a man of character and has so many qualities that we are in desperately short supply of in Washington right now: decency, honor, compassion, trustworthiness, and best of all experience.”

Meanwhile, Wintour slammed Trump, writing, “I, like so many of us, have been appalled by how he has responded to the pandemic—the optimistic and fact-free assurances that all will be fine, the chaotic implementation of travel bans and claims about a ‘foreign virus,’ the narcissistic ease with which he has passed blame to others, his dishonesty with the American people, and worst of all, his shocking lack of empathy and compassion for those who are suffering and fearful.

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