Fox News Harms its Viewers by Denigrating COVID Vaccines!

Dear Commons Community,

Despite devastating outbreaks among unvaccinated people, Fox News has been encouraging its viewers not to take the COVID vaccines.  Repeated refrains on Fox prime-time shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham send a message that is at odds with the recommendations of health experts, even as the  virus’s Delta variant and other mutations fuel outbreaks in areas where vaccination rates are below the national average.  As reported by The New York Times.

“Mr. Carlson, Ms. Ingraham and guests on their programs have said on the air that the vaccines could be dangerous; that people are justified in refusing them; and that public authorities have overstepped in their attempts to deliver them.

Mr. Carlson and Ms. Ingraham last week criticized a plan by the Biden administration to increase vaccinations by having health care workers and volunteers go door to door to try to persuade the reluctant to get shots.

“Going door-to-door?” Ms. Ingraham said. “This is creepy stuff.”

Mr. Carlson, the highest-rated Fox News host, with an average of 2.9 million viewers, said the Biden plan was an attempt to “force people to take medicine they don’t want or need.” He called the initiative “the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far.”

Mr. Carlson’s guest on that episode, the veteran Fox News political analyst Brit Hume, pushed back slightly, saying, “What they’re trying to do is make it as easy as possible for people to get the vaccine and, for people who are hesitant, to perhaps encourage them that they have nothing to fear.” Mr. Hume was quick to add that “vaccines do have side effects” and said those who are hesitant “should be respected.”

Opposition to vaccines was once relegated to the fringes of American politics, and the rhetoric on Fox News has coincided with efforts by right-wing extremists to bash vaccination efforts.

Served up to an audience that is more likely than the general population to be wary of Covid vaccines, the remarks by Mr. Carlson and Ms. Ingraham echoed a now-common conservative talking point — that the government-led effort to raise vaccination rates amounted to a violation of civil liberties and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The comments by the Fox News hosts and their guests may have also helped cement vaccine skepticism in the conservative mainstream, even as the Biden administration’s campaign to inoculate the public is running into resistance in many parts of the country.

Public health experts have said that a strong vaccination effort is critical for the United States to outrun the virus, which has killed more than four million people worldwide and continues to mutate.

The amplification of vaccine skepticism through conservative media channels could harden the reluctance of those who might otherwise have been persuaded to get a shot, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“If you have constant exposure to an outlet that is raising vaccination hesitancy, raising questions about vaccinations, that is something to anchor you in your position that says, ‘I’m not going to take the vaccine,’” Ms. Jamieson said.

A Fox News spokeswoman provided past statements by Mr. Carlson voicing his general support for vaccines. “I’ve had a million vaccines in my life, as we all have,” the host said on an April show. “I think vaccines are great.” The spokeswoman also noted that Ms. Ingraham had spoken in favor of adults choosing to receive vaccines if they wanted them.

White House officials said on Thursday that virtually all new coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths nationwide involved unvaccinated people. The five states with the worst outbreaks as of Wednesday had below-average vaccination rates; four of them voted for President Donald J. Trump in the 2020 election.

Vaccine resistance was greater among Republicans than Democrats, according to an April study by the Public Religion Research Institute. Among Republicans who watch Fox News, 45 percent said they were hesitant or unwilling to get a Covid-19 shot, compared with 68 percent of viewers who watch the niche right-wing news channels Newsmax or One America News Network.”

Fox News is a disgrace and does harm to its viewers!



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