Fox News host Todd Piro got COVID and staff say they were never told

FOx News’s apparent split-personality – a more polite term here than “hypocrisy” – doesn’t simply describe the disconnect between its direct news anchors, who regularly call Joe Biden “the president-elect,” and the prime time and Others Opinion leaders touting Donald Trump’s baseless claims about a stolen election.

The case of Fox and his friends first Co-host Todd Piro, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, highlights a potentially dangerous contradiction between the network’s stated security policies and the supposedly cavalier way management is implementing them, according to members of the network. top rated straight class staff. cable outlet.

Current Fox News employees, who asked not to be further identified for fear of retaliation, told the Daily Beast they had not received any official alerts or explanations after Piro stopped reporting for work in the Midtown Manhattan network studios starting Nov. 9, as its co-host, Jillian Mele, continued to host the early-morning show working closely with members of the production crew.

“They are definitely lax about COVID,” said a staff member, noting that Piro’s diagnosis was severe enough that he was unable to attend the birth of a girl last weekend, lest he infect her new baby, McKenna; his second wife, local Connecticut TV presenter Amanda Raus; and members of the medical team. “They didn’t mention names because of the health data [privacy]. This location allows the anchors to perform the show, and their airtime is more important than our safety. “

The staff member added, “They are doing the minimum on COVID so that they are not prosecuted. Everyone is talking about him [Piro] to be positive. Some wonder why his co-anchor is still allowed in the building. Most fear the company is being too lax with its COVID response. “

Mele apparently tested negative within days of Piro’s diagnosis, this staff member said, “but nobody seems to care about the incubation period. The company is also going with less than 15 minutes of cumulative exposure. Staff are more afraid of not doing enough to avoid exposure, especially since it is very easy for these people to do their shows from home.

Even without naming names and thus preserving the privacy of Piro and Mele, the company never officially alerted employees to their possible exposure to infected and potentially infected colleagues, they said.

“For me, the most concerning part of all of this is that Mele is still allowed to enter the building,” said a member of staff. “She sits next to him [Piro] for at least an hour. Then she goes to Fox and friends after that. Its potential to expose people is therefore very high.

Mele and Piro – whose last name is pronounced with a hard “i”, unlike Fox News personality “Judge Jeanine” Pirro – did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Fox News Media, however, told the Daily Beast in a statement: “Since the start of the pandemic, Fox News Media has implemented strict company-wide protocols, adhering to all CDC and state guidelines, including regular on-air studio personality tests as well as mask warrants and daily health assessments for all employees entering the building. “

The spokesperson added: “Following Todd Piro’s positive diagnosis, the network immediately started tracing contacts and all contacts were informed. Notably, none of his colleagues on the air [including news reader Carley Shimkus] were never within six feet of Piro for 15 minutes prior to his diagnosis, both having since reported multiple negative tests as a result. The health and safety of employees remains our top priority. “

The Fox News employee, however, told the Daily Beast that the company had not officially informed staff members of Piro’s diagnosis, and that this was only known after the anchor took it personally. the initiative to inform a member of the crew. This contrasted starkly, the employee said, with more stringent Fox News practices in the early months of the pandemic, when the company regularly alerted employees to new cases of COVID-19, revealing which floors infected employees were working on. .

The Fox News general management team – including the executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp. Lachlan Murdoch, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and its chairman Jay Wallace – have made all the right rumors about the company’s efforts to take security precautions to avoid exposing employees to potentially deadly viruses.

“We have endured the personal and professional changes caused by the pandemic,” wrote Rupert Murdoch’s oldest son in a recent company-wide memo, “and my thoughts are with all whose lives and families have been personally affected by COVID-19. . “

Instead of the original January 2021 return-to-work plan, Murdoch announced that most employees will continue to work remotely until at least March 2021. “We made this decision with welfare in mind. of the entire Fox organization, ”he wrote.

Scott and Wallace, meanwhile, sent out several memos claiming, as one recent put it, that “we have operated under the strictest health and safety protocols throughout the pandemic, the majority of our staff operating remotely ”.

However, unlike the safety procedures of other television organizations such as NBC News – which has medical staff on hand to take employee temperatures and administer COVID-19 tests, as needed, before they can be cleared. to work at 30 Rockefeller Center – Fox News has contracted with an outside vendor, WorkCare, to remotely administer COVID-19 screenings in which staff members, using their cell phones on the honor system, “auto- assess »their state of health in a questionnaire and report their self-measured temperatures before entering the workplace.

On the air, prime-time Fox News stars have frequently flirted with denial of COVID-19. Back in April, New York Times Columnist Kara Swisher slammed Sean Hannity for giving false comfort to his 86-year-old mother, a loyal Fox News viewer, saying concerns about the pandemic were essentially a hoax.

“Of the various Fox personalities he is the most egregious,” Swisher told The Daily Beast at the time. “And my mom is looking at him, and I heard from her what he was saying hours later or soon after. So i used it [in the column] as an entry point and saying, “Look, Sean, I’m not going to sue you, but what the hell are you doing?”… He’s a big bad news spreader. “

In recent weeks, and particularly with public health experts recommending people not to travel and gather together for Thanksgiving as coronavirus cases and deaths increase, a number of hosts and commentators from Fox News denounced the guidelines as an unwarranted restriction on US fundamental freedoms.

Prime time star Laura Ingraham, who for months has been one of the network’s brazenest coronavirus skeptics, grumbled last week that restrictions and social distancing warrants were just an effort by Liberals for “shaming you” for spending Thanksgiving with your family, adding that Democratic governors are implementing the guidelines because they “appreciate the prospect of controlling our most intimate choices.”

Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, explicitly said this month that lockdowns and masks are not working to stem the spread of the virus, pointing to the recent spike in cases as evidence. “If masks and locks prevented peaks in coronavirus infections, we wouldn’t see peaks,” he insisted, ignoring all scientific evidence to the contrary.

And Fox and friends Host Brian Kilmeade argued loudly with his co-hosts on Monday that virtually all of the COVID-19 guidelines were absurd, even as Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt tried to explain that local leaders were imposing capacity restrictions and curfews in bars and restaurants to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“Well, they don’t trust us!” Kilmeade stormed. “Because they make these restrictions and make personal decisions. This is what they say. They know more, which I find incredibly disrespectful.

As for Todd Piro, after weeks of silence, he finally went public with his COVID-19 infection on Monday night in an apparent attempt to get ahead of the story.

Diana falzone was a camera reporter for Fox News from 2012 to 2018. In May 2017, she filed a sex discrimination and disability complaint against the network and settled and left the company in March 2018.

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