Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
For his new book, Bob Woodward taped conversations with President Donald Trump earlier this year. In some of the tapes, Trump admits that he knew the novel coronavirus was deadly even while he was downplaying it in public. Despite the damning revelation, Fox personalities immediately defended Trump.
In newly released audio excerpts from Woodward's interviews with Trump, the president said on a February 7 recording: "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flu." In another conversation, Trump admitted that he was downplaying the risk of the virus, saying, "To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down."
Even though the revelations show that the president misled the public about a pandemic that is a few days out from having caused the deaths of 200,000 Americans, Fox personalities immediately went to bat for Trump.
On Outnumbered, Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis portrayed Trump as the victim, saying he would be attacked no matter what he said: "This is a situation where if the president didn't know it was serious, he was ignoring the science. When he talks about it's serious, he didn't emphasize that to the public enough."
Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth dismissed Woodward's book as a "trash Trump book." Hegseth called it a "yawn to voters," saying the election would not be about COVID-19.
Pete Hegseth calls Bob Woodward's book a "trash Trump book" (though he hasn't read it) and then says "I don't think… https://t.co/TXrz55qAEO— Jason Campbell (@Jason Campbell)1599671043.0
Francis continued, suggesting that reports that show Trump lied to American public are just from "an inside the Washington bubble type of book." Francis also commented that Americans may be too "busy with other stuff" to care about the president lying to them.
Woodward's book shows that Trump knew how deadly coronavirus was, and still intentionally downplayed it and misled… https://t.co/8e4CyxKWGE— Lis Power (@Lis Power)1599671397.0
Fox anchor Harris Faulkner glossed right over Trump's lies, saying, "We don't need a book to tell us how much pain we've suffered as a nation."
After Fox aired White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany's press conference, Faulkner just reiterated what McEnany said: "So she never said, Kayleigh McEnany, that the conversations about coronavirus didn't happen. However, however, she said the president never misled the people."
It's amazing to see Fox's struggle to spin in real time. Fox anchor Harris Faulkner: "So she never said, Kayleigh… https://t.co/95LeHt3wkz— Lis Power (@Lis Power)1599672723.0
Faulkner interviewed progressive radio host Ethan Bearman and repeatedly tried to make the revelation about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Just absolutely pathetic spin going on at Fox Faulkner: What about Biden's comments? Bearman: Biden wasn't presi… https://t.co/pQKAvGQbzZ— Lis Power (@Lis Power)1599673941.0
After Fox aired remarks by Biden, Fox correspondent and guest anchor John Roberts framed Trump lying as Biden's allegation. Roberts and Fox correspondent Kristin Fisher then spent time reviewing the White House's reaction.
Fox News' website led with the White House's reaction to the story.
Update (3:00 p.m.): CNN's Brian Stelter points out that a Fox on-air graphic got the date wrong for one snippet of Woodward audio.
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