Fox Business announced Friday that it has "parted ways" with Trish Regan, a prime time host who gained notoriety for suggesting on her March 9 show that the COVID-19 coronavirus was a politically motivated "scam." The decision "took some journalists and anchors at the network by surprise," The New York Times reports, because "Fox executives are accustomed to withstanding public pressure, and rarely make personnel moves that can be construed as validating criticisms of the network."
Fox Business wished Regan the best and said the network "will continue our reduced live primetime schedule for the foreseeable future" to focus on "the coronavirus crisis." On MNSBC Sunday morning, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman said ousting Regan appears to be part of a larger effort to limit legal liability tied to the disconnect between Fox's public and private responses to the pandemic.
In early March, "Fox News tried to do their original playbook, which was dismiss it as a hoax, say that this is another partisan attempt by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump, and this was the case where they could not prevent reality," Sherman said. "Fox News is a very powerful media organization, but it cannot stop people from dropping dead." He added:
When I've been talking to Fox insiders over the last few days, there's a real concern inside the network that their early downplaying of the coronavirus actually exposes Fox News to potential legal action by viewers who maybe were misled and actually have died from this. I've heard Trish Regan's being taken off the air is, you know, reflective of this concern that Fox News is in big trouble by downplaying this virus. ... I think this is a case where Fox's coverage, if it actually winds up being proved that people died because of it, this is a new terrain in terms of Fox being possibly held liable for their actions. [Gabriel Sherman, MSNBC]
Whether Fox's coverage of the coronavirus hurts Fox, it has helped Trump, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted March 19-24.
% of U.S. adults who say Donald Trump is doing an excellent job at responding to the coronavirus outbreak, by main source of political news
Fox News: 63% CBS: 24% NBC: 15% ABC: 14% CNN: 7% MSNBC: 2% NPR: 2% New York Times: 1%
New York state is trying to pass a bill guaranteeing paid leave to employees who've lost a relative, and these Fox Business Network hosts are positively peeved about it.
On Tuesday, Mornings with Maria host Maria Bartiromo was joined by Varney & Co.'s Stuart Varney to discuss a New York state bill that would amend its paid family leave legislation to include bereavement of a family member. The law already allows time off to bond with a newly born or adopted child, or to care for a sick relative. This new addition passed both houses of New York's legislature and is headed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) desk.
As Varney passionately explained, "you get three months — three months!" to deal with a family member's death under the bill. He forgot to put "up to" in front of "three months," and took particular issue with the fact that "family" includes in-laws. "There's no pets in there — yet," Varney added.
Bartiromo and Varney went on to discuss how losing one employee could squeeze small businesses, especially because in 2018, businesses would have to pay employees 50 percent of their weekly wages while they're away. That could be up to $652.96 per week, per one estimate. But if a small business owner denies to offer the leave, "you could lose your job for your gross insensitivity," Varney sarcastically added. "I am not being insensitive, but it is freaking ridiculous!"
Watch the whole exchange below. Kathryn Krawczyk
.@Varneyco and @MariaBartiromo are *OUTRAGED* about a paid bereavement bill that's working its way through the New York legislature.
"That is crazy! 3 months! A mother-in-law?" Bartiromo says.