Fact-Challenged CNN Mocks Fox for Defending Restaurants Over COVID

On Wednesday’s CNN Newsroom, host Brianna Keilar devoted an eight-minute segment to freaking out over Fox News hosts scoffing at liberal philanthropist Bill Gates’s recommendations that restaurants should be closed while she also failed to pick up on a recent finding that, in New York, only 1.44 percent of COVID patients caught the illness at a restaurant while 74 percent contracted it from private social gatherings.

Keilar began the segment by mocking Fox News Channel: “Over on planet Fox which loyally orbits planet Trump, there’s a new villain of the day, and its billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. The target on his back was born of this interview with Jake Tapper here on CNN.”

Then came a clip of Gates appearing on Sunday’s State of the Union on CNN in which he spoke favorably of closing restaurants for the next several months.

The CNN host then recalled the results of a CDC study from September reporting that those who were infected with COVID were twice as likely to have eaten recently in restaurants:

During the largest surge of a deadly pandemic, this is the inconvenient truth even with a flailing economy. Just ask the CDC. In September, it explained that adults who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative.

She did not mention a more recent study presented last Friday by New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo finding that only 1.44 percent of COVID patients had contracted the illness in restaurants while 74 percent came from private social gatherings. Combining the two studies, it’s possible that people who go to private social gatherings are also more likely to go to restaurants, but restaurants may not be the places where they are being infected as many concluded from the first study.

Not only did Fox & Friends mention the more recent study suggesting less danger in restaurants in a part of the same show not shown to viewers by Keilar, but her own network on Monday confronted New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio with the findings.

The CNN host also incorrectly suggested that the three Fox & Friends hosts were hypocritically doing the show in separate studios to avoid infection when, in fact, it could clearly be seen earlier in the show that Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade were all on set together, but socially distanced. But Keilar spread misinformation as she mocked them:

But for Fox’s sunrise trio who criticize temporarily closing bars and restaurants despite the human cost of keeping them open when 300 — pardon me — 3,000 Americans were reported dead of COVID per day, here’s how they responded to that warning from Bill Gates as they broadcast from the coronavirus-safe confines of their separate television studios.

After a soundbite of Fox Business host Charles Payne on Fox & Friends on Tuesday tearing into Gates, Keilar seemed conflicted about whether to praise Payne for mocking Gates’s wealth because it reminded her of a “true liberal.” Here’s Keilar: “Spoken, most of that, like a true liberal. And there was no way that the trio was going to let that stand.”

After bristling over a clip of Earhardt expressing reservations about taunting Gates over his wealth because he earned it, Keilar soon complained about Republicans and Fox News being opposed to pandemic restrictions:

But Fox and Fox Republicans paint any restriction as a government seizure of your freedoms. And now they’re attacking a billionaire whose wealth they normally champion whose foundation is donating nearly $2 million to deliver vaccines to poor countries — more than $100 million of that money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated to manufacture vaccines.

The CNN host then pivoted to trashing Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel for dismissing Gates on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Keilar cracked: “As we’ve shown you before on this program, his medical advice ranges from sycophantic to potentially homicidal.”

She spent the rest of the segment lambasting Dr. Siegel over some of his pandemic commentary from earlier in the year.

By contrast, on Monday’s New Day, host Alisyn Camerota brought up the study finding only a small amount of transmission in restaurants as she pressed New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio over his plans to forbid indoor dining:

This episode of CNN Newsroom with Brianna Keilar was sponsored in part by HughesNet. Their contact information is linked.

Transcripts follow:

CNN Newsroom

December 16, 2020

1:27 p.m. Eastern

BRIANNA KEILAR: Over on planet Fox which loyally orbits planet Trump, there’s a new villain of the day, and its billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. The target on his back was born of this interview with Jake Tapper here on CNN.

BILL GATES, PHILANTHROPIST: Bars and restaurants in most of the country will be closed as we go into this wave, and I think, sadly, that’s appropriate. Depending on how severe it is, the decision about schools is much more complicated because they are, you know, the benefits are pretty high. The amount of transmission is not the same as in restaurants and bars. So, you know, tradeoffs will have to be made. But the next four to six months really call on us to do our best because we concede that this will end.

KEILAR: During the largest surge of a deadly pandemic, this is the inconvenient truth even with a flailing economy. Just ask the CDC. In September, it explained that adults who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative.

But for Fox’s sunrise trio who criticize temporarily closing bars and restaurants despite the human cost of keeping them open when 300 — pardon me — 3,000 Americans were reported dead of COVID per day, here’s how they responded to that warning from Bill Gates as they broadcast from the coronavirus safe confines of their separate television studios.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX & FRIENDS CO-HOST: What’s his problem?

CHARLES PAYNE, FOX BUSINESS HOST: Well, here’s the question for Bill Gates: What’s the sacrifice that he’s making?

KILMEADE: None.

PAYNE: He’s still one of the richest people in the world because he actively engages in ways of staying in the top tier of rich people in the world. His wealth gets to grow exponentially while small business owners — maybe folks who worked for 20, 30 years, saved up, scraped, sacrificed, and finally opened the business of their dreams. He willy nilly says it’s a “sacrifice we have to make.” Here’s the problem: Bill Gates is a globalist.

KEILAR: Spoken, most of that, like a true liberal. And there was no way that the trio was going to let that stand.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX & FRIENDS HOST: I’m not knocking him because he worked hard to make that money.

PAYNE: You know, he worked hard, but, you know what, the person who’s going to come to pick up this garbage outside my house today, they work hard.

KEILAR: Perhaps there is common ground between for Fox and AOC since that there is the crux of the liberal argument in the wealth gap debate. But back to coronavirus restrictions — people are losing their livelihoods. Kids are out of school — they’re isolated, Millions and millions of Americans are hungry, so, yes, there is a legitimate debate to be had about restrictions. Why are schools closed and restaurants open in many places? Can restaurants and businesses improve conditions so that they can promote a safer working or indoor dining experience? Should the government keep them afloat if they can’t? How do you balance the economic toll with the human cost? 

But Fox and Fox Republicans paint any restriction as a government seizure of your freedoms. And now they’re attacking a billionaire whose wealth they normally champion whose foundation is donating nearly $2 million to deliver vaccines to poor countries — more than $100 million of that money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated to manufacture vaccines. Gates has also donated billions of dollars over the years to focus on what? Global pandemics. But don’t tell that to planet Fox’s doctor for hire.

Dr. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR (from the Monday, December 14, Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News Channel): By the way, Tucker, if you had me on — if that network has on a computer expert to talk about COVID instead of a physician, imagine if you had me on to talk about computers. You wouldn’t do that, right? You’d have me on to talk about COVID.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Good point,

KEILAR: Now, that’s rich coming from Dr. Marc Siegel, celebrity doctor of internal medicine, not to be confused with celebrity doctor of epidemiology, by the way. True he isn’t exactly the Geek Squad member you want fixing your laptop, but ask yourself if he’s really the MD you’d want at your bedside. As we’ve shown you before on this program, his medical advice ranges from sycophantic to potentially homicidal.

(…)

CNN

New Day

December 14, 2020

8:32 a.m. Eastern

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Today, indoor dining in New York City is being shut down. And I know that you and Governor Cuomo don’t ever reach these decisions lightly. But in terms of the data — I mean, if I just pull up the data of where the most spread happens, the way coronavirus is spread is, number one, in these household gatherings, small gatherings, you know, friends and neighbors and family — that’s at 74 percent, okay, of the threat, according to contact tracers.

Then, there’s number two, health care delivery. Number three, higher education system, meaning at the colleges. Number four, education, and number five is restaurants and bars. And by the time you get to number five, it’s one and a half percent of the spread. And so is it possible that closing restaurants isn’t going to do what you hope it will?

[GOVERNOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY)]

I understand, but, I mean, in terms of you say we have to start shutting down the most sensitive places, it doesn’t look like restaurants are that place, and so, on balance, maybe it would be more important to protect people’s livelihoods and paychecks than a place that does 1.5 percent of the spread.

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