Despite weeks of telling its viewers the coronavirus was no worse than the flu and that the virus was mostly a liberal conspiracy to infringe upon Americans’ right to walk barefaced into a TGIFriday’s, it appears there’s one situation in which Fox News takes covid-19 very seriously: when it’s their offices that are potentially infected.
Heather Childers, the 4 a.m. anchor of Fox and Friends has been fired from the network for coming in to host the show visibly sick on March 18. March 20 was her last day at work, despite Childers firing off a series of increasingly desperate tweets in April begging to return to work. “When this is over don’t forget about the many people who are always alone everyday, feeling forgotten & unessential without a pandemic. I won’t,” read one tweet from April 17. In another, on April 19, she pleaded with Donald Trump to “Please get us all back to work.”
But it wasn’t until this morning that a spokesperson for the network told CNN that “Fox News and Heather Childers have parted ways. We wish her all the best.” Childers’s LinkedIn now lists her ending date with the network as July 2020.
But even as the network suspended Childers for coming to work sick during a pandemic, its anchors were proselytizing non-compliance in the early days of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. On March 6, less than two weeks before Childers’s final appearances on the network, a “medical expert” appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to assure his viewers that the coronavirus was “at worst, worst-case scenario, it could be the flu.” That early, misleading information had real-world repercussions, according to a recent study by the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, which found that Republicans—who make up the vast, if not total, majority of Fox News viewers—“were more likely to believe that the CDC was exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus to hurt President Donald Trump,” perhaps because that’s exactly what the network spent the early days of the pandemic telling them, all while taking precautions to literally save their own asses.