Social Distancing Becomes New Normal on Cable News

WH Issues Guidelines to stop Spread of Coronavirus - Screen shot Fox News-H 2020
Courtesy of Fox News

Network personalities — and guests — are going remote or even filming from different parts of the same studio amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Part of what has made Fox & Friends the top-rated morning show on cable news is the interplay between co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade on the "curvy couch" they sit on while filming the show every day from a studio in Manhattan.

But on Tuesday morning, only Doocy sat on the couch, while his co-hosts sat in other parties of the same studio, one level down.

In doing so, the co-hosts were practicing the "social distancing" policy that Americans have been told to put in place to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"To be responsible, to show social distancing, all three of us are apart," Kilmeade told viewers. "Same studio, plenty of distance."

"We're doing exactly the same thing people all across America are trying to do, and that is: Stay away from each other, because you don't want to get infected, and you don't want to spread infections," Doocy added. (The Fox News shows Outnumbered Overtime and The Five have also done something similar.)

On MSNBC, Morning Joe personalities Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist beamed in from different locations on Tuesday.

On CNN, New Day co-hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman sat at the same desk, but several feet apart — in line with the recommended six feet of separation guideline.

Representatives for Fox News, MSNBC and CNN all confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that their on-air staffers are practicing social distancing.

Networks have also cut down on in-studio guest bookings.

At MSNBC, guests who do come to the network's 30 Rock headquarters in New York for on-camera appearances will do them from a "separate location," the network said. On-air staffers who sit at the same desk will always be at least six feet apart.

On Monday, MSNBC anchor Joshua Johnson highlighted the distance between himself and the other people on his panel. "You may have noticed if you've been watching these specials for the last few days that we've been all at this one table," he said. "We're not doing that anymore."

Across the television news industry, shows have cut out live audiences.

And at least one prominent host, The View co-host Joy Behar, has taken a temporary leave from her perch out of concern about potentially contracting the illness.

Also on Tuesday morning, Today show host Al Roker beamed in live from his kitchen after he and fellow host Craig Melvin went into self-quarantine after a staffer on the third hour of the show's franchise tested positive for the virus. "I didn't have to commute in, so I did sleep in," he said.