After spending weeks downplaying and minimizing the threat of the new coronavirus that has now resulted in a worldwide pandemic, Fox News host Sean Hannity declared on Wednesday night that he has “always taken the coronavirus seriously” and never referred to it as a “hoax.”
Hannity, who recently changed his tune on the viral outbreak once President Donald Trump began exhibiting a sense of urgency about the crisis, complained about the amount of criticism the media has thrown at him and Fox News over their earlier COVID-19 coverage. Taking aim at his critics, the pro-Trump host insisted they were “politicizing” the pandemic with their “hysteria” and “neverending” lies about the president.
After playing a montage of cable news rivals blasting Fox News and Trump, with one commentator stating that Fox has “been getting people killed for years,” Hannity mockingly retorted: “We’ve been getting people killed for years, I had no idea I was doing that.”
“You know what, if it wasn’t so serious, it was pretty sick and you could probably laugh at it but nothing to laugh at here,” he continued. “By the way, this program has always taken the coronavirus seriously and we have never called the virus a hoax.”
Hannity went on to say that “we call what they’re doing—trying to bludgeon the president—out,” apparently addressing comments he made nine days prior on his show. While hosting Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) on March 9, who had at that time self-quarantined after coming in contact with an infected individual, Hannity groused about fears of the virus being overblown.
“We gotta be very real with the American people, I don’t like how we’re scaring people unnecessarily,” he said. “And that is that unless you have an immune system that is compromised, and you are older, and you have other underlying health issues you’re not going to die 99% from this virus, correct?”
“I mean they’re scaring the living hell out of people,” Hannity added. “And I see them again as like oh, okay, let’s bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.”
Last week, amid mass cancellations and tanking stock markets but before the president shifted his tone on COVID-19, Hannity cited a far-right QAnon conspiracist to suggest that perhaps the “deep state” was using the virus to hurt the economy and push “mandated medicines.” The Fox host also spent weeks comparing coronavirus to the seasonal flu. That is until top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci schooled him on the dangers of COVID-19 and said Hannity had to “make sure” his audience knew the mortality rate for coronavirus was at least 10 times greater than the flu.