Fox News host Steve Hilton claimed that the "ruling class and their TV mouthpieces" were whipping up fear about the current health crisis that's closed businesses across the United States in efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic. The screed was a continuation of the network's repeated dismissals of the threat posed by the pandemic.
Hilton said that an ensuing recession due to these closures could be more deadly than the virus itself.
In reality, closures of non-essential businesses are largely crucial to "flattening the curve"—slowing the rate of transmission so as not to overwhelm the healthcare system, which would result in even more deaths.
"Working Americans can't, they'll be crushed by it. You know that famous phrase, 'The cure is worse than the disease?' That is exactly the territory we are hurting towards."
im having a hard time wrapping my head around this making it on air https://t.co/8wnRuUL0xT— Andrew Lawrence (@Andrew Lawrence) 1584941159.0
Hilton continued to criticize National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci—one of the few officials Americans widely trust for accurate information regarding the pandemic. Fauci said he didn't mind Americans thinking that containment measures might be an overreaction.
"Well, that's easy for him to say. He'll still have a job at the end of this, whatever happens."
Scrambling to salvage the economy he's boasted about since his inauguration, President Donald Trump repeated a similar claim in a late-night, all-caps tweet.
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION A… https://t.co/StEiK3KSZK— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1584935420.0
The similarity of the talking points led many to believe that Trump was letting Fox News dictate his response to a pandemic.
@olgaNYC1211 @morgfair @FoxNews Policy by Donald Trump channeling Steve Hilton. God help us— Norman Ornstein (@Norman Ornstein) 1584942202.0
This is the Fox News line --- that social distancing is hysterical and they need to stop it and send people back to… https://t.co/4GCujnuPD9— digby (@digby) 1584940896.0
This man, with Instant Access to the world's greatest ever sources of intelligence and information...is quoting Ste… https://t.co/y2ew9TpFwB— Peter Arnott (@Peter Arnott) 1584963500.0
Again @realDonaldTrump is taking direction from FOX Steve Hilton. #TrumpPandemic #TrumpIsUnfit https://t.co/qIHE0e6xrI— Marjorie Skidders (@Marjorie Skidders) 1584972048.0
Fox News and other allies of the President have rushed to dismiss the threat of the virus since reports of the first outbreaks within the United States.
Even with over 33,000 confirmed cases and 428 deaths, a lack of available testing has likely resulted in an undercount of infections. Because one can have the virus while remaining asymptomatic, the importance of all Americans staying home and practicing social distancing is difficult to overstate.
Trump's tweet signaled to some Americans that he would prematurely call for businesses to reopen in an attempt to shore up the economy at the expense of the health of countless Americans.
what he means, let's be very clear, is "if shareholder value continues to plummet we will place workers' bodies in… https://t.co/dgyEl7BEqd— The Mountain Goats (@The Mountain Goats) 1584964962.0
Okay this is legit terrifying. They're too worried about the collapse of capitalism and are seriously thinking abou… https://t.co/udJArprfsa— 🔸 Izak Novák 🔸 (@🔸 Izak Novák 🔸) 1584940075.0
Remember--the people of America never mattered to Trump. Haven't since he took office. He cares only about his re… https://t.co/LmLZD3dYMW— David Rothkopf (@David Rothkopf) 1584967639.0
It's unclear if Trump will actually call for businesses to go back to normal operations in the coming days, but experts insist that it could be dire to Americans across the country.