When Fox News launched a public service announcement urging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 this week, it has been hailed by some as a virtuous gesture. What the network may not have expected is that the message will be almost immediately undermined by the network’s biggest star, Tucker Carlson.
It looked like a real-time on-screen battle between Fox News and Carlson, which has already challenged security and questioned the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine, which indicated a broader mixed message within the network on the issue of vaccination.
It was also a conflict that unfolded as the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly in areas of America where unvaccinated people are concentrated, which are often states that support Republicans. – and observe Fox.
Since vaccines became widely available in the United States, leading opinion formers on the right-wing news channel have repeatedly questioned the vaccination.
Laura Ingraham has been skeptical of vaccines, questioning the vaccine’s effectiveness this week, while during a two-week period from June 28 to July 11, VIPs and guests of Fox News have made a total of 216 claims undermining or downplaying vaccines in segments on coronavirus vaccination, according to Media Matters.
However, some of the Fox News coverage has changed over the past week. First Sean Hannity on Monday told his viewers to “please take Covid seriously – I can’t say it enough”.
Hannity added, “I believe in the science of vaccination. “
Hannity had previously made a similar comment – although it was also called an admonition to ‘talk to your doctor’ – but it came during a week in which Fox News launched its new announcement. of Public Interest, headlined on the Fox News website as: “‘We’re in Same Boat’: Fox News Hosts Urge Americans to Get Vaccinated,” Wednesday.
“America, we’re in the same boat,” Steve Doocy, one of the co-hosts of the morning show Fox & Friends, told the viewer. Then we see daytime host Harris Faulkner, who adds, “And if you can, get your shot. The video directs its viewers to a CDC link on the Fox News website where they can search for nearby vaccination sites.
That was all well and good, except that Carlson, Fox News’ most watched host, appeared an hour after the PSA aired to vent all the sentiment.
Carlson, who has done good business with far-right conservatives through his repeated questioning of the vaccine, apparently used CNN, which also urged its viewers to get vaccinated, as Fox News’ proxy in an outraged monologue .
“As a channel, CNN shouldn’t have a position on whether or not you should take medication, because it’s a news channel, it’s not a health agency,” Carlson said.
He later added: “Why is a news channel doing this? Any news channel. Many of them are.
The hoo-ha came days after Ingraham, who hosts a show called The Ingraham Angle, asked his viewers, “What about the effectiveness of the vaccine itself in adults?” Ingraham pointed out that five vaccinated Texas Democrats had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We need to know more about this,” Ingraham said.
The mixed message was the latest conflict of thought within Fox News over vaccines.
Carlson yelled on his show that the idea of vaccine passports is the medical equivalent of “Jim Crow” laws, but against the dystopian image of the congested masses presenting barcodes to large, emotionless state bureaucrats is the reality that Fox has already implemented its own version of a vaccine passport among its staff.
An email sent in late June to staff at Fox Corporation, including Fox News employees, said the company had “developed a safe and voluntary way for employees to self-certify their immunization status,” according to CNN .
Staff are encouraged to report the dates they received the vaccine and their immunization status. If they can prove to Fox that they are fully vaccinated, they are eligible for the “Fox Clear Pass”. With the Fox Clear Pass, staff can bypass an otherwise mandatory daily health check-up, CNN reported.
A Fox News spokeswoman cited examples of some of her hosts and reporters voicing their support for vaccines, and a Feb. 2 Fox News PSA that showed Faulkner telling viewers “if you can, get it. you get the vaccine ”.
There are, however, caveats about the apparent enthusiasm of at least some Fox News hosts for the vaccine. After Hannity was praised by non-right-wing media for his seemingly pro-vaccine stance, he angrily told viewers on Thursday: “I never told anyone to get the vaccine. “
And even Hannah’s – brief – encouragement for the vaccine was worded with him telling people they should talk to their doctors before getting it, a caveat that seemed to help vaccine skeptics. In the United States, where the majority of people have to pay to see a doctor, seeing a healthcare professional can be a serious barrier.
The questioning of vaccines by some Fox News hosts and other right-wing networks ”[is] on grades and grades ultimately become income, and that’s the name of the game, ”Carl Cameron, former chief political correspondent for Fox, told CNN.
The effects of anti-vaccine rhetoric could be serious. In the United States, at least 99% of people who have died from coronavirus in the past six months have not been vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
While vaccine skepticism can earn these odds and income, it is certainly a law of diminishing returns. The median age of a Fox News viewer was 65 in 2017, suggesting that many of those viewers fall into the highest risk category.
Cameron said: “It is literally a metaphor for lemmings running towards their own slaughter. People who listen to that stuff instead of the science that goes way back. “