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Make no mistake, vaccine misinformation continues to flourish on Fox News

When Fox News star Sean Hannity pleaded with viewers to take COVID-19 seriously and promoted the vaccine on Monday, heads turned. Has the network that has long played down the pandemic, questioned the effectiveness of vaccines and politicized, finally used its influence over conservative America to disseminate accurate public health information?

It would be nice to think so, especially as the delta variant of the virus is taking hold across the country. But as Hannity’s monologue quickly swept liberal corners of the internet, the viral moment likely did more for Fox News’ public image than for vaccine uptake, which remains much lower among conservatives. In fact, the network always lets its main hosts spread misinformation about vaccines.

The roughly 2.59 million people who watch Hannity’s show – not just snippets on Twitter have heard his remarks this week in a very different context. Shortly before, he implored his viewers to “take [COVID-19] seriously ”and said he“ believed in the science of vaccination, ”Hannity denounced universities forcing the vaccine on all students“ whether or not they have natural immunity ”- mistakenly confusing the effects of the vaccine. virus cure with vaccination. Later on her show, Hannity told the story of a woman who was temporarily crippled by a different vaccine in 2019 and now refuses the COVID-19 vaccine, stoking fears of a highly unlikely side effect.

In the days that followed, Fox News made it clear that it had no intention of reducing vaccine skepticism. Nowhere is this more evident than on Tucker Carlson’s show, which is the network’s largest audience and the most watched cable news show in the country.

On Tuesday evening, Carlson continued as usual and spent much of his show questioning the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I hardly attack vaccines or try to convince people not to get them at all. I never did that and I won’t. However, I am against lying, and they tell us that once you are vaccinated you cannot get it or spread it, ”he said. “Here you vaccinated people who got it and then spread it to other vaccinated people. Maybe we should start being honest about the limits of the drug, right? “

In fact, the vast majority of COVID-19 outbreaks are among the unvaccinated, which still represents about half of the country. But Carlson went ahead: “It’s strange how many vaccinated people seem to be spreading the virus at this point, so maybe it’s not as simple as bad unvaccinated, virtuous vaccines,” he said. he said, later adding: [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi said the masks and vaccines are actually science, right? “

At the heart of Carlson’s rant, six fully vaccinated Democratic lawmakers from Texas have tested positive for the virus in recent days, showing that, as with all vaccines in medical history, groundbreaking cases are possible. What Carlson didn’t mention Tuesday night is that all of these lawmakers’ cases are largely or completely asymptomatic. It’s the vaccine that does its job of reducing viral loads – the amount of virus in a person’s blood – in an infected person.

Carlson’s vaccine speech was pretty much the same Monday night, for months now. And Laura Ingraham, another Fox News star, was there with him this week. In the Monday and Tuesday episodes of “The Ingraham Angle”, she repeatedly referred to the shot as an “experimental vaccine” and “an emergency vaccine” while describing the push for inoculation as a conspiracy of the. government.

“The more you try to coerce people, the more distrust grows,” Ingraham said. “The more defensive the experts are in answering legitimate questions, the more questions they end up raising. “

Perhaps most bizarrely, after more than a year of the coronavirus’ constant presence in the United States and killing more than 600,000 Americans, Ingraham told his viewers on Tuesday: “This virus may indeed be seasonal.”

Fox News’ vaccine opposition – which appears in 60% of all vaccine-based segments, Media Matters report says continues to unfold despite network instituting a COVID-19 policy strict in his office similar to those of Hannity, Carlson and Ingraham railed against. In order to work in network offices without masks or social distancing, employees must present proof of full vaccination.

The one Fox News personality who has always spoken positively and specifically about the vaccine is Steve Doocy, co-host of the popular morning show “Fox & Friends”. On Monday morning’s show, he implored viewers, “If you get the chance, shoot. It’ll save your life. ”He’s been making similar remarks on air for months, even though his own co-hosts contradict him.

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