Fox News hosts railed against ‘vaccine passports’ – the company requires one to return to work without a mask

After top personalities spent weeks repeatedly undermining Covid-19 vaccine outreach and public health guidance, company quietly rolls out internal vaccination report for stay to bypass screenings

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 20 July 2021 16:52
Fox News host Sean Hannity tells viewers to ' take Covid seriously'.mp4

Tucker Carlson compared them to racist Jim Crow-era laws targeting Black Americans. A programme hosted by Laura Ingraham – who recently hosted a guest who falsely claimed that there is “no clinical reason to go get vaccinated” – called them “Orwellian” and suggested they are “eliminating freedoms”.

Businesses requiring so-called “vaccine passports” to display proof of vaccination from Covid-19 have become a frequent target for Fox News and its primetime personalities to invoke right-wing rage against perceived “big government” intrusion while accusing “big tech” of conspiring with government officials to mandate vaccines.

But no Fox personality has told their audience about the company’s own “passport” – the “FOX Clear Pass”, which is required for employees returning to the office to bypass internal mask guidance, screenings and physical-distancing requirements.

An internal email first reported by Ryan Grim and viewed by The Independent explains how vaccinated employees can voluntarily send their vaccination information to the company’s human resources web portal to receive their pass.

“Fully vaccinated individuals who have entered their vaccination information into Workday are not required to wear a mask or socially distance while at work,” the email said.

That month, Mr Carlson – the top-rated host on the network – called the idea “Medical Jim Crow.” He has not publicly confirmed whether he has been vaccinated, comparing such questions to inquiries about his sex life or HIV status.

“If we still had water fountains, the unvaccinated would have separate ones,” he said on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

The email tells employees that “providing this information to Fox will assist the company with space planning and contact tracing”.

Once they self report their information, the email tells them: “Thank you for providing Fox with your vaccination information. You no longer are required to complete your daily health screening.”

The network’s most-watched hosts and their guests have frequently sought to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and undermine vaccine efficacy, vaccine outreach and public health guidance during the crisis that has killed more than 600,000 people in the US.

Several other network personalities – like Sean Hannity and Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy – have urged viewers to get vaccinated, though their statements are often couched in sceptical coverage of vaccines that media critics warn can validate baseless conspiracy theories and vaccine skepticism amplified elsewhere.

On 19 July, Mr Doocy told viewers to “get the shot, it will save your life.

“99 per cent of the people who died have not been vaccinated,” he said before discussing a potential White House strategy to connect more Americans to vaccine access. “What they are trying to do is make sure that all of the people who have not been vaccinated get vaccinated.”

On his programme that night, Mr Hannity said: “Please take Covid seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more deaths.”

The network has also aired a PSA featuring network hosts urging viewers to get vaccinated.

In remarks from the Senate Floor last week, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said Mr Carlson and Ms Ingraham “have been spreading what I consider to be irresponsible information about vaccines across America and about the effort of this nation to deal with them”.

“If there are things that can remove you from the air for being said on a programme, I certainly hope that the management of the station will caution Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham with the statements they have made in opposition to vaccines,” he said.

The Independent has requested comment from Fox News.

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