American News Jun 3, 2021 12:31 AM EST

Media Matters 'research' on Fox News 'disinformation' is filled with actual disinformation

Media Matters for America, a progressive research and information center, reportedly claimed that in 2020, Fox News promoted "coronavirus misinformation" an estimated 13,551 during its weekday program.

Media Matters 'research' on Fox News 'disinformation' is filled with actual disinformation
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Media Matters for America, a progressive research and information center, reportedly claimed that in 2020, Fox News promoted "coronavirus misinformation" an estimated 13,551 during its weekday program, the Daily Caller News Foundation reports.

Although a full list wasn’t disclosed, a portion that was published had flagged accurate remarks as well as statements meant as opinion.

Media Matters did not publish its methodology on its study of misinformation used as well, something that Ursinus College associate professor of media and communication studies Anthony Nadler told the Daily Caller News Foundation was a "red flag."

"My thought is that if a study of misinformation or propaganda does not offer a detailed explanation of its methods, that should give any news organization pause before reporting its findings," said Nadler. "There are certainly times when there are compelling reasons not to release full data (privacy concerns)."

"But something that lacks transparency in methods lacks credibility," he continued.

Media Matters published around 1000 of the more than 13,000 instances of "Fox's lies, propaganda, conspiracy theories, bigotry, and misinformation."

Although there were instances of actual misinformation listed from Media Matters, many instances were more accurate classified as opinion or misinterpretations of the event that transpired.

In one example, Media Matters accused medical contributor Marc Siegel of spreading coronavirus misinformation for briefly mentioning the chloroquine treatment on March 12, 2020.

Siegel was in fact reporting on testing being done in South Korea at the time on COVID-19 treatments that included chloroquine, remdesivir and Plaquenil, a brand name for hydroxychloroquine.

Media Matters also stated that Sean Hannity made a comment on February 27, 2020 that it marked as misinformation regarding the US coronavirus death toll being zero on that day. The US wouldn’t confirm its first death from COVID-19 until February 29, two days later.

They also marked numerous opinions as misinformation, including "Steve Doocy complains that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wore pink while signing articles of impeachment," "Tucker Carlson assures his viewers they ‘are not crazy’ for watching his show," and "Sean Hannity says states shouldn’t be allowed to have early voting until after the first debate."

Although many of the instances marked by Media Matters as misinformation are misleading, they do identify some cases of actual; misinformation, like on December 14, 2020, where host Laura Ingraham said that COVID-19 is "less lethal than the flu."

World Health Organization epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said last August that the COVID-19 mortality rate was at 0.6 percent, while the season flu is just 0.1 percent.

A February letter to AT&T CEO John Stankey from California Democratic Representatives Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney cited a July Media Matter study that said in a five day period when he study was conducted, Fox News promoted coronavirus misinformation 253 times.

Those 253 times were not provided by Media Matters, but they did provide the methodology for this study, saying that it counted any statement that “valued the economy over public health” or that “pushed to reopen the economy or schools” as misinformation.

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