Fox News has often sent mixed messages this year when has come to the Covid-19 vaccine. While several Fox newsers appeared in a PSA last February asking viewers to “keep up the fight” again Covid-19, many of its primetime hosts have regularly and repeatedly questioned its efficacy on-air during the past several months.
But Monday, a number of Fox News personalities were vocal in urging their viewers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort across several departments.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy, a longtime proponent of getting the vaccine, was especially adamant about it during a segment. In discussing the new delta variant, Doocy remarked:
“99% of the people who died have not been vaccinated. What they [the Biden administration] are trying to do is make sure that all of the people who have not been vaccinated get vaccinated.
Unfortunately, and this is one of the reasons apparently that Joe Biden and the administration came out last week, the administration very frustrated. They have not been able to get Facebook to get rid of some of the disinformation. The disinformation is online. The vaccine is killing lots and lots of people. Or it changes your DNA. Or their little microchips. None of that is true.”
But co-host Brian Kilmeade pushed back: “It is not proven that the antibodies disappear when they get in T cells that people who have the natural immunity not even better protected than those with the vaccine.” Doocy then responded by saying, “This is the fourth version. This is the delta version. That’s the worry.”
Doocy added that there are some isolated instances in which citizens—like a pregnant mother—are reluctant to get vaccinated; but then concluded by saying, “Everybody else, if you have the chance, get the shot, it will save your life.”
To which Kilmeade responded, “Make your own decision. It’s available to everyone. We are not doctors.”
So, some back and forth there.
In the following hour, anchor Bill Hemmer endorsed vaccines as well, saying, “If you’ve got questions, consult your doctor and ask questions and ask as many as you want, but the vaccines work. We have seen that play out.” (Meanwhile, Hemmer’s co-anchor Dana Perino, moderated a vaccine panel last Wednesday with the Ad Council.)
Hours later, Fox News afternoon anchor John Roberts and the network’s medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel also endorsed vaccines on-air, and, like Doocy, rather aggressively urged their viewers to get vaccinated.
Roberts: “With this delta variant spreading across the country, we see it’s affecting the stock market right now — how important is it for people get vaccinated, and where can they get more information on where to get a shot?”
Siegel: “It’s very important that people get vaccinated! Two shots of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine is still giving you almost 90 percent protection against this, and 95 to 100 percent protection against hospitalization. You can get your vaccine from a local pharmacy. Your physician can tell you where to get it. They are really all over the place, very easy to get a vaccine right now. The public health centers all have it. There are vaccine center still going. We are having a low compliance rate. The delta variant needs to be a wake-up call to get vaccinated.”
Roberts ended the segment by telling viewers to visit the vaccines.gov website.
Then, in primetime, Sean Hannity delivered a monologue in support of getting vaccinated, where he said “enough people have died” from Covid-19, and his viewers should to talk to their doctors and learn about how best to combat the pandemic.
“I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously. You also have a right to medical privacy, doctor-patient confidentiality is also important. And it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination.”
That said, Hannity’s monologue praising vaccines came between segments where he went in the other direction, seeming to express skepticism about them. Before the monologue, the host criticized colleges who were instituting vaccine mandates. And then after the monologue, he interviewed a female college student who refused to get vaccinated after having a negative reaction to a different type of vaccine years ago.
Given that this was the first time that multiple Fox newsers had been so vocal about vaccinations on the same day, it is not clear whether there was a mandate from Fox News management to tout the benefits of getting vaccinated against Covid-19 on-air Monday; the network did not comment.
And not every Fox News personality was on board with Monday’s pro-vaccine push. Prior to Hannity’s program, Tucker Carlson opened his show on Monday once again “asking questions” about vaccines. He added, “We never encourage anyone to take or not take the vaccine.”