Fox News has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for the mixed messages it has sent viewers about getting vaccinated against coronavirus. Steve Doocy might promote getting vaccinated on “Fox & Friends,” but primetime host Laura Ingraham has suggested U.S. government efforts to get Americans to take their shots should make people wary.
“Someone comes up to your door outside wearing a mask, showing up at your house claiming to work for the government asking you personal medical questions,” Ingraham said on her show earlier this month. “What could possibly go wrong there?” Tucker Carlson, another Fox News primetime stalwart, has also criticized government efforts to get people vaccinated, telling viewers to be wary of efforts to undermine personal freedoms.
At Fox News, executives appear to be drawing a line between what is good health-wise and whether viewers should have to give up personal freedoms to do so. But that has created a volley of different stands on the issue, with Fox News running a public-service campaign in February urging viewers to “keep up the fight” against the pandemic, and “Fox & Friends” co-anchor Brian Kilmeade generating controversy Monday by comparing people who didn’t want to get vaccinated to “cliff divers,” noting “It seems a little dangerous, but I’m not going to judge you. And if you go ahead and put yourself in danger, and you feel as though this is not something for you, don’t do it. But don’t affect my life.”
On Monday, two of Fox News’ best known faces, Doocy and Sean Hannity, made blunt pleas to the audience to get vaccinated. “If you have the chance, get the shot. It will save your life,” Doocy said yesterday’s “Fox & Friends.” Hannity’s comments were even more impassioned: “Please take COVID seriously, I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more deaths.”
Viewers of Fox News may see a back and forth over coronavirus protocols, but Fox News employees have not. Fox News’ parent company, Fox Corp., has in recent weeks told employees they must get vaccinated in order to enjoy greater freedoms at work. Los Angeles-based employees of Fox Corp. were told recently that they had to wear mask “regardless of your vaccination status,” due to rising cases in California. In June, employees were told that to be considered “fully vaccinated” at work they had to provide proof of getting vaccinated to the company in order to obtain a “Fox Clear Pass” that would allow them to go without masks in the office. “Employees who may be fully vaccinated but who have not entered their vaccination information into Workday will be considered unvaccinated under Company policies,” a June memo said.
The way Fox News handles the subject is likely to have more ripples in days to come. The nation is growing more concerned about the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, which is likely to cause great harm to people who remain unvaccinated.