Fox News anchor Ed Henry appeared a bit cavalier when discussing recent deaths from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, highlighting how two people who died in Florida were both elderly and had recently traveled abroad so, in the end, it’s nothing “scary” for viewers at home.
Speaking with Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) on America’s Newsroom, Henry noted at the outset that Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis had recently declared a state of emergency to deal with the viral outbreak.
Pointing out that Scott himself is a former governor, Henry said that people may tend to “have fear” when they hear the term “state of emergency” but it is sometimes just about a governor “asserting power so they can respond quickly.”
Henry, meanwhile, said he needed to add some “important context” having Scott discuss the emergency action in Florida.
“There have been 18 cases of COVID-19, two people, sadly, have died, but both of those residents were elderly and had traveled internationally,” the anchor declared. “So when you hear the context, it's not quite as scary.”
The notion of a Fox News host shrugging off deaths of coronavirus victims because of their age wasn’t lost on critics of the network who have observed that many Fox personalities have downplayed the growing crisis or blamed it on Democrats playing politics. Henry’s dismissiveness also rings as tone-deaf considering the Fox audience’s median age is 65—part of an age group that is at the highest risk of complications from the virus.
“Dear old folks watching this show, (which is essentially everyone watching this show) don’t worry, the coronavirus is only coming for you,” Media Matters reporter Lis Power, who first spotted the moment, mocked in response on Twitter. “Sincerely, Ed.”
But it isn’t just liberal detractors who have taken issue with the way President Donald Trump and Fox News have soft-pedaled the virus outbreak. During his Monday night monologue, Fox News host Tucker Carlson took aim at those who have been “minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem.”