In other words, the problem with Fox isn’t that it’s conservative but that it monetizes conspiracy theories and disinformation in ways that are sometimes lethal. Researchers have found, for example, that places where Fox News is randomly assigned a lower channel number (and thus gets more viewers) had riskier behavior during the pandemic, and that media markets where Hannity is particularly popular had higher Covid-19 death rates early in the pandemic.

Suppose Discovery Channel went haywire and encouraged viewers to drink arsenic to lose weight? Or Cartoon Network was bought by a tobacco company and encouraged children to try smoking? Or MSNBC pundits called on viewers to burn down police stations?

We would agree that advertisers should not support their programs and that cable channels should not force Americans to subsidize them. In other words, we accept that there must be red lines even if we don’t always agree where to draw them — and I believe that Fox crossed those lines in 2020.