Fox News host Sean Hannity had a message for viewers of his prime-time show Monday night: ” Thank you for taking Covid seriously. «
The influential host, a close ally of Donald Trump, also said, “I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination. “
Nearly 609,000 people have died in the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, but vaccination rates have slowed due to resistance from conservative sections of the population, stoked by politicians and the right-wing media.
While the infectious Delta variant is causing an increase in cases, federal officials said more than 99% of deaths were in unvaccinated people. At the White House on Friday, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said: “This is becoming an unvaccinated pandemic. “
Hannity has voiced his support for science and vaccines before, but his post has made the news anyway. Fox News has been widely criticized for casting doubt on vaccines.
Last week, The New York Times reported on statements from two of the most influential presenters, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. Carlson said a plan by the Biden administration to offer door-to-door vaccinations was aimed at “forcing people to take drugs they don’t want or need” and called the initiative of “by far the biggest scandal of my life”.
On Monday evening, he said Walensky’s statement about an “unvaccinated pandemic” was “simply false.”
But change seemed to be in the air at some studios, as hosts Steve Doocy and Bill Hemmer made statements in favor of vaccination and so – after critically criticizing a decision that upheld a vaccination requirement for students from Indiana – did Hannity.
“Just like we said,” he said, “please take Covid seriously. I cannot say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need more deaths.
“Research like crazy, talk to your doctor, doctors, healthcare professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current condition, and you and your doctor make a decision. very important for your own safety. Take it seriously.
“You also have the right to medical confidentiality, doctor-patient confidentiality is also important.
“And it makes perfect sense that many Americans get vaccinated. I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination.
But skepticism or resistance to vaccines remains common at Fox News. On Monday morning, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade said, “Look, if you haven’t been vaccinated it’s your choice, but if you have, like I did and they did and maybe you did, then you shouldn’t wear masking.
“And if you’ve done it and want to go cliff diving this weekend, you don’t have to check with me.” “
Kilmeade also argued that the federal government is not supposed to protect Americans.
“It’s not their job,” Kilmeade said. “It’s not their job to protect anyone. “
Doocy said, “If you get the chance, get yourself vaccinated, it will save your life. “
Hannity said he had been vaccinated. Carlson did not and told reporters it was a private matter, asking a writer in return, “When was the last time you had sex with your wife and in which position ?
Fox News hosts criticized the idea of ”vaccine passports,” a catch-all term for measures by which proof of vaccination is required and a target for right-wing politicians and media. Carlson called these measures the medical equivalent of the Jim Crow laws, under which racial segregation was enforced in the southern United States.
On Monday, CNN reported that Fox News had “quietly” introduced vaccine passports in its own offices, having “developed a safe and voluntary way for employees to self-certify their immunization status.”
CNN also said there had been several high-level conversations between Fox News and the White House regarding the network’s vaccine coverage. But a Fox News spokesperson denied that description.
“CNN reports are inaccurate. There was no high-level conversation between Fox News Media and the White House regarding our coverage. We had a routine briefing with the White House in early May on vaccination rates and our DC office staff are in regular contact with them on various issues, as is the case with all other networks. “