As the COVID-19 pandemic became more widespread and dangerous in the US, information surrounding it became unclear and uncontrolled. Establishment media outlets had the crucial task of clarifying this information and providing factual evidence to support the statements being spread to the American public. As noted by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), many establishment media networks disregarded the importance of this task. The major TV networks failed to feature the voices of health experts and public interest groups on their most prominent programs and instead focused on showcasing well-known political figures, Julie Hollar reported for FAIR. The disregard for health experts and public interest advocates raises many ethical concerns, as it created many potential risks for the health and wellbeing of American.
FAIR analyzed the Sunday schedule of programs for five major media networks—NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox—during April 2020 to determine just how many health experts and public interest groups each network’s programs featured. Of all 121 featured guests, only 21 percent were health experts and just two percent represented public interest groups. These programs also included only three foreign officials across all five networks.
While the five major TV networks provided platforms for the CEO of Bank of America, two Federal Reserve Bank presidents, and billionaire businessmen Bill Gates, Barry Diller, and Mark Cuban, FAIR “found not a single mention of the cancel rent movement or the widespread struggles people are facing to pay for housing, or of the labor strikes against Amazon to protest unsafe conditions.”
Source: Julie Hollar, “In Pandemic, Sunday Shows Centered Official Voices, Sidelined Independent Health Experts,” Fair, 22 May 2020, https://fair.org/home/in-pandemic-sunday-shows-centered-official-voices-sidelined-independent-health-experts/
Student Researcher: Madisen Ritter (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)