New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Fox News stars are echoing President Trump’s call to “reopen the country” and urging people to get back to work in the face of the coronavirus threat. But Fox’s offices won’t be opening up anytime soon.
A Friday memo from Fox Corp chief operating officer John Nallen extended the company’s work from home directive through June 15. On that date, at the earliest, Fox Corp properties like Fox News will begin a gradual reopening of offices. The date could very well be delayed further.
Sources told me that Nallen’s memo said any resumption of activity in the office will happen in phases. Fox News is essentially already operating in the first phase, with technical personnel and some anchors working from Fox News HQ in New York City under essential personnel rules, to keep the network on the air. Other TV networks have been operating the same way, with a greatly reduced headcount. Fox’s work-from-approach has been getting extra attention, though, due to the rah-rah back-to-work rhetoric espoused on pro-Trump shows like “Fox & Friends.”
While some hosts have expressed caution and emphasized the need for safety, others have been gung-ho about getting back to normal, even while broadcasting from their homes or other socially-distant locations. I understand what all of the hosts are saying — businesses are failing, people are suffering, and most people want a way out of this ASAP. Different approaches are probably appropriate in different places. But it’s strange to see Fox stars hosting from home, albeit in hard-hit areas like New York, telling viewers that it’s time to get back out.
Corporations leading the way
Big corporations like Fox are making calculations and finding that now is not the time to let people back into the office en masse. This fits into a pattern we’ve been seeing since the winter — corporate America has been a step or two ahead of the government.
As one Fox source said to me, “We were originally told of a potential return to the office in mid-May back in late March, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t make [the June 15 date] and we push it to late summer.”
The May date was always just a target date, and Fox is just like many other companies in its decision to extend the work from home period. Friday’s memo said any return to the office will happen in phases.
At CNN, the vast majority of staffers who have been working from home since March have been told they won’t be back in the office until September at the earliest…