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Fox News panel erupts at a liberal guest for saying it's 'not time to joke' about COVID-19 as US deaths near 250,000

  • After a Fox News panel traded memes and banter mocking COVID-19 restrictions in some states heading into Thanksgiving, the discussion got testy.
  • "It's not a joke, first of all. A bunch of people are dying every day in this country from coronavirus," Former State Department spokeswoman and Democratic operative Marie Harf said.
  • "God forbid we laugh at a meme on the internet," Fox Business Network host Dagen McDowell replied. "God forbid we have a chuckle about a meme on the internet."
  • "It's fine, but people aren't taking these restrictions seriously, and people are dying every single day," Harf said. "I get the memes, it's just not the time to joke."
  • At another point, "Fox & Friends" weekend co-host Pete Hegseth called mask wearing and social distancing among family "absolute garbage," saying "people ignore" these restrictions, "as they should."
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A Fox News panel got heated on Wednesday after a liberal guest called out the others for joking about COVID-19 as the US death toll approaches 250,000.

What started as a general news segment for "Outnumbered" on new coronavirus restrictions in some states heading into Thanksgiving took a turn when the conservative panelists began sharing memes mocking things like limits on the number of people per household.

As of Wednesday morning, the United States death toll was approaching 250,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally, which had pandemic deaths nationwide at 249,187.

Fox Nation streaming Host Emily Compagno described a meme about a "funeral for my pet turkey" that would allow 30 people to get together instead of just six, while other panelists said they would "one-up ya on one" and "raise you on the meme thing."

Pete Hegseth, weekend co-host of "Fox & Friends," went beyond internet fodder to eschew skepticism over health measures.

"Wait, weren't we supposed to wear a mask if we couldn't social distance? Now we have to wear masks even if we can social distance while meeting with members of our own family on Thanksgiving?" Hegseth said. "It's absolute garbage."

"When the rules are so ridiculous, they go out the window," he continued. "People ignore them, as they should."

Former State Department spokeswoman and Democratic operative Marie Harf was not amused, telling the panel "It's not a joke, first of all. A bunch of people are dying every day in this country from coronavirus."

Things went downhill from there.

Harf pointed out that much of the virus' spread has come from intimate gatherings among friends and family, and that "Thanksgiving can look different this year. That's OK, it should."

Dagen McDowell, a Fox Business Network host and frequent guest or co-host on the show, loudly cut in as host Harris Faulkner tried to move the conversation along.

Fox News has taken heavy criticism at the outset of the pandemic for several high profile hosts downplaying the virus. The CDC says the safest thing is to limit Thanksgiving to only people in your immediate household, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised people who are elderly or have health conditions to reconsider larger family gatherings.

"God forbid we laugh at a meme on the internet," McDowell said. "God forbid we have a chuckle about a meme on the internet."

"It's fine, but people aren't taking these restrictions seriously, and people are dying every single day," Harf said. "I get the memes, it's just not the time to joke."

Crosstalk ensued, with McDowell saying "we're not laughing at death" and Hegseth interjecting as his audio cut in and out.

"People should be treated like adults and be able to make their own choices, that's what it comes down to," Hegseth said.

"But their choices impact other people," Harf replied before Faulkner cut her off to move things along to a new segment on California Gov. Gavin Newsom attending a birthday party at a fancy restaurant, which has received frequent coverage on the network this week.

"And Marie, if you'll give me a chance — if you'll give me a chance to co-host the show," Faulkner said, "I'll come to you first on this one, because I'm dying to know what you think."

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