A seemingly small act from a pair of online personalities Wednesday spoke volumes about cable news’ highest-rated network and its supposed commitment to accurately informing the public amid this pandemic.
Fox News, “Diamond & Silk,” and dangerous misinfo
Fox News might be working hard to whitewash its past coverage and convince the public that it is taking the coronavirus pandemic with the upmost seriousness, but its actions — or apparent lack of action, in this case — speak louder than its words.
“Diamond & Silk” might not seem like a duo worth your attention, but the pro-Trump sisters command a sizable audience that includes the President of the United States. They are also paid by Fox, where the two have a Fox Nationshow. And they appear on the network’s programming.
Over the last few weeks, the duo has advanced all sorts of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. They’ve questioned the death toll. They’ve questioned whether the virus is being “deliberately spread.” They’ve suggested the “Deep State” is working “behind the scenes” and that it is “engineered.” On and on and on it goes.
On Wednesday, “Diamond & Silk” posted a tweet. “The only way we can become immune to the environment; we must be out in the environment,” the duo declared. “Quarantining people inside of their houses for extended periods will make people sick!”
Twitter promptly took action against the tweet for violating its rules against coronavirus misinformation. The suggestion from the Fox News personalities is clearly dangerous. People should not be “out in the environment.” Twitter required the two to remove the tweet in order to regain access to their account.
But while Twitter was the responsible outlet and declined to allow “Diamond & Silk” to spread their hazardous misinformation on its platform, Fox News fell silent. I sent a Fox News spokesperson requests for comment on the duo’s Wednesday tweet. I never heard back. Apparently the request was not even worth a reply.
That’s how far down the rabbit hole we are. Where two fairly prominent Fox News personalties — who have been elevated on numerous occasions by the President and Republican lawmakers — can promote wild conspiracy theories and dangerous misinformation and it does not even merit a response from the network’s public relations office.
The next time you see a story about how serious Fox News is taking coronavirus, or a fancy promo from the network offering a similar message, remember this: The network is paying “Diamond & Silk” for their opinions and it doesn’t seem to care much about the dangerous misinformation they disseminate.
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
— Greg Sargent writes that Sean Hannity’s “latest propaganda” actually “exposes Trump’s epic failures…” (WaPo)
— Speaking of Hannity, Bill O’Reilly told him on radio Wednesday that “many people who are dying” of coronavirus were “on their last legs anyway…” (Media Matters)
— NYT Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller tells Erik Wemple the newspaper stopped carrying the Trump briefings live on its website “because they were like campaign rallies…” (WaPo)
— Jim Acosta asked Dr. Deborah Birxand Dr. Anthony Fauci about right-wing commentators who are “suggesting that the number of dead are being inflated…” (Mediaite)
— Jeremy Barr is out with a new profile of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and how he “was made for this moment…” (THR)
— “Of course President Trump is getting advice about the pandemic from Mehmet Oz, and of course Dr. Oz is eager to provide it,” Frank Bruni writes. “They’re a match made in ratings-obsessed heaven…” (NYT)
— ProPublica and NYT respond after Jerry Falwell, Jr. accuses the outlets of trespassing… (Talking Points Memo)
— Here’s a fun Q&A with Katy Tur and Tony Dokoupil on how they are anchoring two broadcasts from their basement while caring for their one-year old son… (People)
Chris Cuomo questions Andrew Cuomo on New York pandemic response
In an interview that grabbed my attention, Chris Cuomo questioned NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the precautionary measures he took to prepare the state for the pandemic. CNN’s Cuomo seemed to reference a Wednesday NYT story that found the “state’s and city’s own initial efforts failed to keep pace with the outbreak” and asked his brother whether he “agreed with that criticism.”
Gov. Cuomo said it was a situation in which he would have been criticized no matter what. “They’ll second guess any decision,” he said. “That’s what you guys in the ‘media’ like to do, right?” CNN’s Cuomo pressed on, saying he’d buy Gov. Cuomo “lunch” for every instance he could show that says he was “too prepared” for the pandemic. “I don’t think you’ll find any piece like that,” CNN’s Cuomo said. Watch the interview here…
>> That’s not to say that the sibling back-and-forth didn’t occur. Later in the interview, Chris Cuomo shared a picturethat embarrassed his brother…
— At 10am ET, The Associated Presswill publish a big package story about “The Fight for New York.” The story follows several people over New York for 24 hours, including an ER doctor, paramedic, taxi driver, concierge, and others. Here’s the trailer…
— In this DealBook Debrief at 11am ET, NYT’s Ben Smith and Edmund Lee will talk with subscribers about the pandemic’s “potentially lasting impact on media and advertising…”
Introducing Vanity Fair’s new weekly newsletter
Its name is Vanity Fair Weekly, and its purpose is to “package and showcase VF’s freshest, best, and most urgently informative journalism, and proactively share it with readers on a weekly cadence,” a rep for the magazine says.
Like a weekly mag, it will come out every Thursday at 4pm ET. This week’s debut edition will include an editor’s letter from Radhika Jones, plus a black and white photo portfolio, shot by Mark Seliger, of empty scenes in NYC during the pandemic. Here’s a sneak peek…
Bernie is out…
Brian Stelter writes: Bernie Sanders‘ decision to suspend his campaignresulted in a brief suspension of wall-to-wall Covid-19 coverage. Sanders cleared Joe Biden’s path to the Dem nomination, but as CNN’s team noted here, it remains to be seen whether, and to what extent, Sanders and his supporters “will lend their support — and organizing energy — to Biden’s campaign…”
>> Sanders will be on with Stephen Colbert for his first interview since suspending his campaign…
…Now what will the Berniesphere do?
Matthew Yglesias said it’s “important to recognize that Biden’s party unity problem is going to be driven by Berniesphere media — Chapo, Jacobin, Current Affairs, Bruenigs — rather than by Bernie personally, and he probably can’t fix it.” Yglesias expanded on his point in this Vox piece…
Sullivan: McEnany will make press nostalgic for Spicer
In her latest WaPo column, Margaret Sullivan predicted that new White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany“could do the impossible: Make us miss Sean Spicer.” Sullivan said her “best guess” was that McEnany will “be even worse” than her predecessors: “Even more blatantly political, even more contemptuous of the truth, even more of a sycophant.” Hard to argue with that…
>> Related: Sarah Ellison and Elaeh Izadi wrote that McEnany’s gig as a pro-Trump CNN commentator during the 2016 election made her “into everything Trump would want in a press secretary…”
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
— Ex-Facebook security chief Alex Stamos is consulting with Zoom. He says it was “too interesting to pass up…” (Medium)
— Meanwhile, Google has banned Zoom’s software from employee computers over security concerns… (BuzzFeed)
— Herb Scribner looks at how the comic book industry is faring amid the pandemic… (Deseret News)
— Endeavor has launched a new podcast with Dr. Zeke Emanuel and Dr. Jonathan Moreno… (Deadline)
“GMA” mourns loss of camera operator Tony Greer
The “GMA” family on Wednesday mourned over the loss of their colleague, Tony Greer. Describing him as a “bright light,” Robin Roberts said Greer, a studio camera operate for the show, died due to complications related to coronavirus. “You could just feel Tony’s beautiful spirit, you could feel it from a mile away,” Roberts said.
“We loved every single moment we were blessed to spend and share with Tony,” Roberts continued. “Our condolences to his family in Chicago. To his mother Fanny … your son was a good man.” George Stephanopoulos echoed Roberts, calling Greer a “total pro” and a “lovely spirit.” Our sincerest condolences to the “GMA” team…
A look at health reportersKerry Flynn emails her latest: We’re all coronavirus reporters now. But some reporters have been covering health and policy for much longer than others. I spoke to 10 of those people at different outlets to learn how they’re staying safe and what they’re focusing their coverage on. As The Atlantic’s Ed Yong told me, “The pandemic truly is one of the biggest stories — if not the biggest story — of our time, and I think it demands our full attention right now.” Read my full story here…
Gupta writes about the struggle to remain dispassionate In a beautiful essay remembering Charlotte Figi, the “little girl who changed the world,” Dr. Sanjay Guptaaddressed the challenges of remaining dispassionate when telling some stories: “For the last 20 years, I have straddled the world of medicine and journalism. … All along, you are asked to maintain an objective arm’s-length from the emotional pain and suffering of those around you. Do your best work, we are told, but don’t get too close.”
Gupta wrote that his problem is that he struggles to live within those guidelines. “Yes, I got close. It’s hard not to when her mother, Paige, described holding baby Charlotte and feeling her seize every few minutes, wondering if this would be the last movement she would ever sense from her daughter. Yes, I embraced, when I saw Charlotte healthy, and she took me by the hand, walking me around a holiday party in Colorado. Yes, I held tight. Paige reminded me that I once asked to turn off the camera during an interview because my tears flowed too freely and my heart ached…” Read Gupta’s full essay here…
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE
By Kerry Flynn:
— Clara Hendrickson finds that 50% of the counties that reported coronavirus cases, as of April 6, are news deserts… (Brookings)
— Nick Catucci, formerly of Billboard, announces he’s EIC of nofilter, a new publication for and about influencers… (Twitter)
— Hannah Ryan analyzed Daily Mail Australia headlines… (BuzzFeed)
— NPR’s Elise Hu is joining TED as the inaugural host of “TED Talks Daily…” (TED)
— Tristan Ahtone is the new EIC of Texas Observer. He comes from High Country News… (Texas Observer)
YOU HEARD IT FIRST…
Center for Journalism and Liberty
Brian Stelter writes: The Open Markets Institute, variously described as independent and liberal and anti-monopoly, is starting something new. Through a three-year grant from the Knight Foundation, the institute is launching a Center for Journalism and Liberty. Staffers and fellows will conduct research “in support of independent journalism,” the group says. News consultant Jody Brannon is the center’s director; researcher Nikki Usher is the center’s first fellow; and investigative journalist Mya Frazier is an OMI fellow…
Fred Ryan: WaPo not immune, but “financial foundation” is strong
WaPo publisher Fred Ryan emailed staff on Wednesday, telling them that the newspaper “has not been immune to the impact of the pandemic on the global economy.” Ryan explained that some advertisers had postponed marketing campaigns “while others are pausing” their campaigns.
But, Ryan said, “The financial foundation of The Post remains strong because of our innovations in advertising and our years of substantial growth in subscriptions.Thankfully, although we are offering a significant number of coronavirus-related stories for free, readers are showing support for our journalism by subscribing in record numbers.”
Kerry Flynn emails: As digital media companies announce cost-cutting changes over the last month, my eyes have been glued on Vox Media. Bankoff had been communicating with staff, as I reported last month, but no big changes yet. Per Bankoff’s Wednesday memo, stay tuned. Bankoff wrote to staff, “I wanted to give you this update and tell you we expect to be back with more information within the next week or so. I realize the anxiety this uncertainty creates, especially during these times, so I commit to share more detail as soon as it is ready.”
Group Nine layoffs
Flynn adds: Group Nine Media laid off 7% of its 800-person workforce on Tuesday, WSJ reported Wednesday. That’s about 50 people of the company that includes NowThis, Thrillist, Seeker, The Dodo and PopSugar. Group Nine had already introduced some cost-cutting measures, such as CEO Ben Lerer electing not to take pay for 6 months.
The Hill implements pay cuts
The Hill will be implementing pay cuts, The Daily Beast’s Max Tani