Don’t Blame Delta, Blame Fox

It’s past time for a class-action lawsuit against Fox News, and health care professionals who have suffered most caring for the endless stream of coronavirus patients should bring it.

As the nation watches, many seemingly dumbfounded, the Delta variant of the coronavirus has filled hospitals again, often to the levels seen at the height of the pandemic back in February — depending, stupidly, on the politics of your local and state officials.

It’s time to sue Fox News, the major cause for the dumbfounding of America — around the pandemic (and, well, in general).

The former president recently brought a class-action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, and Google, demanding that he be reinstated on those social media platforms. Is it not long past time for health care professionals to bring a class-action lawsuit against Fox News for what they have personally and professionally suffered due to its endless disinformation campaign about the coronavirus and the vaccines?

The Former Guy — as they put it on The Bulwark, attempting to not use the name — should also be sued for his catastrophic handling of the global crisis. Failed businessman and alleged Russian asset Donald Trump ignored the pandemic, then played it down (“I wanted always to play it down”), then made states battle each other for masks and gowns, suggested the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and then bleach (“by injection inside or almost a cleaning”) or “powerful” light (“supposing you brought the light inside the body”) as treatments, and generally drove a clown car (tooting its horn) around the podium whenever real health officials tried to speak. If there were any justice in the world, he would face charges for his utter mendaciousness around nearly every aspect of his administration’s pandemic response.

Trump claimed (and still claims) to be president much in the same way Fox claims to be a news organization. A few Fox “personalities” have recently said that people should seek the vaccine, but this seems disingenuous at best, given their constant attacks on factual information about the pandemic from the beginning.

An early class action in the United States was a case about an estate. In the West v Randall decision of 1840, it was determined that one individual was able to sue on behalf of many. In the decision, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (he of the famous Amistad decision) wrote:

“It is a general rule in equity, that all persons materially interested, either as plaintiffs or defendants in the subject matter of the bill ought to be made parties to the suit, however numerous they may be.”

Note that “either as plaintiffs or defendants.” So, sue Fox News and every single one of those so-called hosts or “personalities” who have lied day in and day out about the pandemic and best practices, like social distancing, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated. There’s no end to the clips you could show in court. And, please, no whataboutisms; yes, we all know about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and the other self-styled virology and immunology experts (the “Disinformation Dozen”) pumping out a massive amount of misinformation about the pandemic and vaccines on Facebook. Should they be shut down? Absolutely, and good luck with that.

Fox News? Ostensibly a relatively professional operation with decision-makers at the top. Start there. They know better or have the resources to know better, and they continue to lie to conform with the wishes of the former president and their Troll in Chief.

The stories of exhaustion, loss, and despair that health care professionals could tell from their work since the beginning of the pandemic are endless: physicians and nurses working long shifts and isolating themselves away from their families; health care professionals watching patients die horrible, suffocating deaths — each without the presence of loved ones. The psychological damage cannot be measured. They are experiencing something akin to what health professionals see in a war zone. These are incredibly dedicated professionals. But many are past burned out and are leaving the profession as a result.

The likes of “hosts” Sean, Tucker, Laura, Janine, Dan, Maria, and the trio from that excruciatingly insipid show in the morning (“Gaggle of Dunces” would be more apt) continued, day after day, week after week, month after month, to undermine and belittle critically important information coming from public health officials. They must bear responsibility for this.

Research from the Yale School of Public Health published by the Commonwealth Fund has estimated that the vaccines have saved nearly 300,000 lives in the United States. An earlier study estimated that hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States could have been spared if people had been given better information sooner. The pandemic certainly would have shaken our complex, unequal, and surprisingly un-sturdy health care system in any case; the pandemic with the president and governors and Fox News hosts disputing the science right, left, up, and down has been an utter catastrophe that just keeps on giving, keeping people from getting vaccinated and filling hospitals in red states across the nation. And health care professionals have paid the bulk of the price.

As fully vaccinated people, my wife and I would like to sue Fox for making it necessary for us to continue to wear a mask when we go to the store. Thanks, to you, Tucker and all your Fox cohorts for your outrageous narcissism (you know better than the scientists and public health officials) and bizarre dedication to ignoring suffering and death and continuing this pandemic indefinitely in the name of opening up the country.

Would a judge throw out such a suit as frivolous? Maybe. But I think an examination by any reasonable judge would have to get to the heart of the whole Fox News enterprise. Does Fox operate as a news organization, with First Amendment rights? A large portion of Fox’s time is given over to hosts who outright lie or dissemble to the public, and hammer those points because that was the Roger Ailes’ way and the corporation wants to curry favor with the bully who still calls for a coup against the U.S. government. And because cruelty and disinformation is the point for authoritarians.

Everyone knows (to use a favorite Trumpian leading phrase) that Fox is only tangentially about news — it is manifestly a political propagandist/disinformation organization and was founded as such. People on the Right often equate the likes of MSNBC with Fox, and both fill many hours with opinion journalism. But MSNBC doesn’t just make things up; they don’t traffic in conspiracy theories or bad mouth scientist and other experts. If they report something in error, like real journalists, they own up to it. Not Fox.

It’s anything but frivolous: Sue ‘em.

Next up: class-action lawsuits over continued disinformation from Fox concerning the Jan. 6 insurrection and global warming. Even if humanity perishes in the end — which seems more likely by the day — the truth must out.