A new ad from The Lincoln Project takes aim at Fox News for the network’s anti-vaccine messaging (watch above).
“Is Rupert Murdoch trying to kill Americans?” asks the spot, referring to Fox News’ 90-year-old owner. “His network is the leading voice against Covid vaccination.”
The ad contains clips of Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingram, and Brian Kilmeade expressing skepticism and outright disdain for the life-saving jabs.
There is no doubt that Fox News has fueled vaccine hesitancy; Carlson and his guests, in particular, have overstated the side effects and downplayed the efficacy of inoculation. Carlson hides behind a raised eye brow, as if framing misinformation as a question instead of a statement doesn’t introduce unnecessary confusion.
But other Fox News personalities, including right-wing standard bearer Sean Hannity, have recently changed their tune on vaccinations.
“I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination,” Hannity asserted on Monday night.
“Just like we’ve been saying,” he added, “please take Covid seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more deaths.”
Similarly, Fox & Friends co-anchor Steve Doocy said on Monday, “If you have the chance, get the shot. It will save your life.” Doocy also pushed back on anti-vaxxers, saying “The disinformation is online: The vaccine is killing lots and lots of people or it changes your DNA or there are little microchips. None of that is true.”
Meanwhile, reports indicate that Fox News is adopting a vaccination passport system, despite the fact that many of its commentators have raged agains the vaccine-tracking system, comparing them to Jim Crow laws. From CNN:
The company has encouraged employees to report their status, telling them that “providing this information to FOX will assist the company with space planning and contact tracing.”
Employees who report their status are allowed to bypass the otherwise required daily health screening, according to a follow-up email those who reported their vaccination status received.
Fox News’ about-face on COVID comes amid reports that the White House has “organized an informational briefing for Fox News producers and journalists this spring with several officials who are helping with the coronavirus response,” according to The New York Times.
The network claims the meeting was routine. “There have been no high-level conversations between Fox News Media and the White House regarding our coverage,” Fox News said in a statement. “We had one routine briefing with the White House in early May on vaccination rates, and our D.C. bureau personnel are regularly in touch with them on a variety of issues, as is the case with every other network.”
Still, it’s clear that many prominent Republicans and right-wing personalities are adjusting their message on vaccines as the delta variant causes new infections to soar. From Axios:
Members of House GOP leadership and the GOP Doctors Caucus are having a press conference this morning to “discuss the need for individuals to get vaccinated, uncover the origins of the pandemic, and keep schools and businesses open,” per a press release. Attendees include Reps. Elise Stefanik and Steve Scalise, who received his first shot of the vaccine last weekend.
“Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” Scalise told NOLA.com.