The Misleading Attack from CNN's 'Reliable Sources' on Fox News' Coverage on Flynn and COVID-19

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Posted: May 18, 2020 9:10 PM
The Misleading Attack from CNN's 'Reliable Sources' on Fox News' Coverage on Flynn and COVID-19

Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

CNN's "Reliable Sources" newsletter that was sent on May 13, authored by media reporter Oliver Darcy, held nothing back against Fox News and what he saw as the media company shifting all focus onto the news surrounding retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn's case and largely ignoring the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

"Fox dumps virus coverage for conspiracy" was the leading headline for the newsletter, which went on to say:

"If you woke up from a coma on Wednesday afternoon and flipped on Fox News, or checked the network's website, you'd be forgiven if you had no idea the country is currently grappling with a pandemic killing tens-of-thousands of Americans and leaving millions more unemployed.

"That's because the conservative network largely ignored the virus in the afternoon and into its prime time programming. After Republican senators released a list of Obama officials who sought to unmask the name of an unidentified American caught in intelligence reports, who turned out to be Michael Flynn, Fox News went all in on the story. (When asked about the lack of coronavirus coverage, a Fox News spokesperson pointed to coverage from earlier in the afternoon.)"

Darcy pilloried the network's leading hosts, such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, for hyping up "the new developments as part of the supposed 'OBAMAGATE' scandal the network has been promoting for the last few days with President Trump. Anchors at the network, such as Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, also elevated the story."

He then noted there were "softball interviews" for Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) during the daytime programming about "Obamagate" and that they have "declined to appear on CNN" so far.

The criticisms did not stop for the on-air coverage. For the website, Darcy said, "Fox News homepage prominently displayed articles on the topic, while barely mentioning the coronavirus or havoc it has wrecked on the nation and world. It looked far more like the front page of the far-right website Breitbart than a credible news organization."

Of course, looking at what Fox News did for their coverage of both events, it's a far cry from how Darcy described it. Here are a few examples of the network's coverage during the time period: 

  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin talked with host Martha MacCallum to discuss what the Trump administration's plans are for getting the economy back on its feet.
  • Medical Contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier went on "Outnumbered" to talk about Dr. Anthony Fauci testifying to the Senate about the plans for combating COVID-19. Anchor Bret Baier appeared on Dana Perino's "The Daily Briefing" to also talk about Fauci's hearing.
  • Also during Perino's "The Daily Briefing," correspondent Jonathan Serrie reported from the CDC in Atlanta to provide details about an inflammatory syndrome appearing in children that could have links to the coronavirus.
  • Baier even asked Sen. Johnson during "Special Report" whether Flynn's case was a distraction by President Trump to take focus away from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fox News website also did not simply ignore the virus as there were stories ranging from the Chinese Communist Party putting pressure on the World Health Organization to downplay the virus early in the outbreak to the rapid tests being used at the White House may be missing positive cases.

Darcy's newsletter echoed what "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter said, criticizing conservative news outlets for their "obsession" over the revelations on Flynn's cases instead of the viral pandemic.

The reason why only some news outlets reported on Flynn's case and the drama surrounding it in-depth is that the Russia investigation was a heavy item to report on during Robert Mueller's investigation. Now that the narrative is not what it seems to be what the mainstream media reported on, they can't get away quickly enough from their previous "obsession." It's also disingenuous to suggest a giant news agency can't report on two different, yet significant, situations at one time.