Right-wing media is killing us

Very much related to the previous post, we’ve got a real problem that Republicans, in particular, are just not taking the virus seriously enough.  People don’t decide this on their own and they don’t decide it just because Trump doesn’t want to wear a mask.  Rather, those on the right are being systematically mis-led by right-wing media.  And it’s killing people.

David Leonhardt’s newsletter today:

Sinclair Broadcast Group recently published an online interview with a conspiracy theorist who claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci created the coronavirus using monkey cells. Sinclair — which operates almost 200 television stations — has also run segments downplaying the severity of the virus.
Fox News has repeatedly run segments promoting ideas that scientists consider false or that question the seriousness of the virus.
Breitbart published a video this week in which a group of doctors claimed that masks were unnecessary and that the drug hydroxychloroquine cured the virus. It received 14 million views in six hours on Facebook, my colleague Kevin Roose reports. (President Trump tweeted a link to it.)
Why is the U.S. enduring a far more severe virus outbreak than any other rich country?
There are multiple causes, but one of them is the size and strength of right-wing media organizations that frequently broadcast falsehoods. The result is confusion among many Americans about scientific facts that are widely accepted, across the political spectrum, in other countries.
Canada, Japan and much of Europe have no equivalent to Sinclair — whose local newscasts reach about 40 percent of Americans — or Fox News. Germany and France have widely read blogs that promote conspiracy theories. “But none of them have the reach and the funding of Fox or Sinclair,” Monika Pronczuk, a Times reporter based in Europe, told me.
Fox is particularly important, because it has also influenced President Trump’s response to the virus, which has been slower and less consistent than that of many other world leaders. “Trump repeatedly failed to act to tame the spread, even though that would have helped him politically,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent has written. The headline on Sargent’s opinion column is: “How Fox News may be destroying Trump’s re-election hopes.”

A healthy fear

Presumably this will be appearing in the Monkey Cage or somewhere similar soon, but for now, Marc Hetherington has shared some really interesting findings from the first two waves of the UNC Covid survey on his FB page.

Pretty interesting stuff.  A concerned Republican is a Republican who takes the virus appropriately seriously and does not let their partisanship (and the horrible elite Republican cues) get in the way.  And note, this was a panel survey, so these are the same respondents.

Next step for the UNC Covid (plus that one guy at NC State) team is try and work on messaging that gets Republicans appropriately concerned about the virus.

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