Yahoo reports Fox News is facing intense scrutiny for its initial coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and a lawsuit filed in Washington is asking a state court to bar the network from sharing false information about the pandemic.
The top-rated network was sued Thursday by the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics. TheWrap has reviewed the ten-page document, in which Fox News Corp., owner Rupert Murdoch, AT&T TV and Comcast were named as defendants.
The organization is seeking an injunction to prevent Fox News from “interfering with reasonable and necessary measures to contain the virus by publishing further false and deceptive content.” Fox News, the suit says, violates the Consumer Protection Act, which ”declares unlawful and prohibits deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.”
Responding to Thursday’s lawsuit, general counsel for Fox News Media Lily Fu Claffee said, “Wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law. We will defend vigorously and seek sanctions as appropriate.”
In the last month, Fox News’ on-air talent has been criticized for what they have shared about the virus, both on-air and through their social media accounts. (At the time of this article’s publication, #FoxNewsLiedAsPeopleDied is a trending hashtag on Twitter.)
Much of the criticism stems from the New York Times’ opinion section, which has published some scathing pieces recently that attack Fox News’ coverage and what the authors say are the effects of that coverage. Kara Swisher, the veteran tech journalist who co-founded the site ReCode, wrote in an op-ed this week that she blamed Fox News for her aging mother’s initial lack of concern about the coronavirus pandemic.
Swisher wrote that her mother’s “primary source of news” is Fox News, and the older woman initially did not take the coronavirus threat seriously because of what she watched.
“But she was not concerned — and it was clear why. … In those days she was telling me that the COVID-19 threat was overblown by the mainstream news media (note, her daughter is in the media). She told me that it wasn’t going to be that big a deal. She told me that it was just like the flu,” Swisher wrote of her mother, who continued to go out to eat with friends for some time and went as far as to threaten to block Swisher’s number if she kept talking about the seriousness of the pandemic.
That characterization earned Swisher a two-day fight with Fox News’ ratings behemoth and primetime host Sean Hannity.
“You got one far-left media mob maniac over at ‘The New York Times’ using the virus to attack her least favorite network, oh, and yours truly,” Hannity said during his show Wednesday. “Yes, she’s accusing Fox News of putting her mother and the elderly people at risk.”
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