Fox News brass has prohibited its employees from all non-essential business travel amid the coronavirus outbreak. But some of the network’s hosts are sending viewers the opposite message: There’s never been a better time to travel!
In a memo to staff on Thursday, Fox News executives Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace warned employees of COVID-19’s dangers and announced an internal policy “prohibiting all non-essential business travel since last Monday,” advising staff to work from home, and reducing in-studio guest bookings.
The company also shared with employees a CDC advisory page cautioning against traveling to Europe and abroad. The advisory noted that while the agency does not generally issue travel restrictions in the U.S., “cases of COVID-19 have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, if there are other travelers with COVID-19.”
Despite these official warnings, and the internal Fox News policy, some of the network’s hosts have decided to encourage their viewers to pick up and travel.
During Friday’s broadcast of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that sparsely booked flights and near-empty airports mean “It’s actually the safest time to fly.” She added, “Everyone that I know that’s flying right now, terminals are pretty much dead. Ghost towns.”
Besides claiming it’s the “safest” time to fly—during a pandemic—Earhardt also gushed over the comfort and extra space passengers will enjoy on these emptier flights. “Remember back in the day when you had a seat next to you possibly empty?” Earhardt excitedly noted. “You could stretch out a little more. It’s like that on every flight now.”
Earhardt wasn’t the only prominent Fox News host actively encouraging viewers to travel by air. Primetime host Laura Ingraham, apparently from her seat on a United Airlines flight to Chicago, tweeted that it was a “great time to fly if not in at-risk population,” essentially cutting an ad for the airline as she praised the cleanliness of the plane and the “wonderful flight attendants.”
Earlier this week, meanwhile, Fox Business Network host Charles Payne found the silver lining to plunging oil prices and stocks by noting that gasoline will be much cheaper for American consumers. His advice to viewers: “Go somewhere.”
“The irony of course is anyone watching this is like, ‘Well, does that mean my gas prices are going to go down?’” Payne said on Monday’s America’s Newsroom. “The answer is yes. Now, the bigger question now for American economists and this stock market is, are you going to take advantage of it and go somewhere?”
Later that day, on Payne’s FBN show, Fox News contributor David Webb was briefly distracted during a segment on the coronavirus response, boasting on-air that he was busy “booking a flight.” After apologizing and again noting he’d just scheduled a flight, Webb loudly coughed.