While Fox News has come under fire for some of its on-air personalities undermining the US effort to get Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus, two of its anchors recently urged viewers to go and take the shot.
Monday on Fox's morning show "Fox & Friends," host Steve Doocy discussed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is almost entirely concentrated among unvaccinated Americans.
“Well, here’s the thing. And one of the CDC officials said yesterday, look, the pandemic right now is really just with people who have not been vaccinated. 99 percent of the people who died have not been vaccinated. What they are trying to do is make sure that all of the people who have not been vaccinated get vaccinated," he said.
He then addressed Facebook, which has been slow - and in some cases reluctant - to remove anti-vaccination disinformation from its social media platform.
“Unfortunately, and this is one of the reasons apparently that Joe Biden and the administration came out last week, the administration very frustrated," he said. "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 there are little microchips. None of that is true.”
"Fox & Friends" cohost Ainsley Earhardt discussed the frustration from the Biden administration that rampant anti-vaccination disinformation was contributing to some Americans' refusal to take the shot, after which Mr Doocy directly addressed the viewers, urging them to take the vaccine.
"If you have the chance, get the shot, it will save your life," Mr Doocy said.
Later on the show, a Fox News medical commentator Marc Siegel was asked to comment on the efficacy of the vaccine.
"The vaccine works extremely well even against the delta variant, preventing infection in 90 percent of cases," Mr Siegel responded.
The direct encouragement for viewers to take the shot stands in stark contrast to the views expressed by the network's popular pundits, specifically Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.
Mr Carlson, whose show is the highest rated in the country, is often filled with conspiracy theories, including those about the white nationalist "great replacement" and accusations that the NSA is spying on him. He has also dabbled in anti-vaccination conspiracy, claiming the Biden administration was trying to "force people to take medicine they don't want or need."
The pundit also suggested that people who don't take the vaccine will "wind up on a government list."
Another pundit who frequently dabbles in conspiracy theory, Jeanine Pirro, claimed that the Biden administration's planned effort to go door to door to encourage Americans to take the vaccine was actually "about confiscating your gun," a claim that is utterly without merit.
Ms Ingraham suggested that the door-to-door effort was "creepy" and has frequently pushed that some Americans have "natural immunity" to the coronavirus - an assertion not backed up by science - and was personally involved in Donald Trump's endorsement of hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus. That drug was ultimately found to be ineffective at battling the virus.
The irresponsible parading of conspiracy theories regarding the virus are particularly damaging coming from Fox News pundits, as nearly 60 per cent of the network's audience is made up of people over the age of 65, who are especially at risk from the virus.
A Media Matters analysis of the network's coverage regarding the vaccine found that between 28 June and 11 July, the network aired 129 segments about the shot. Of those segments, 57 per cent included claims that either "undermined or downplayed immunization efforts."
The network has made some efforts to promote the vaccine outside of its "Fox & Friends" hosts comments on Monday.
The network debuted a vaccine-focused PSA in February with a group of its hosts encouraging Americans to "keep up the fight" against the virus. Another Fox News host, Larry Kudlow, has also frequently mentioned on his show that he took the vaccine and impressed upon people the importance of taking the vaccine.
“Skyrocketing vaccinations is the single best stimulus of all, and the skyrocketing vaccinations will reopen virtually the entire economy," Mr Kudlow said in March. "We are on our way. Herd immunity is coming this spring.”
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