Amid criticism from the mainstream press that Fox News is engaging in “anti-vaccine rhetoric” to cater to its viewers, host Sean Hannity expressed support for vaccination.
Increasingly, populists on the right say Fox News, and its more establishment-friendly personalities like Hannity, aren’t hardcore enough.
During his eponymous show on Monday night, Hannity began a segment by slamming universities that have mandated vaccinations for students.
But: The Fox News host then shifted gears, urging viewers to take the pandemic “seriously” and saying he believes in the “science of vaccination.”
Quote: “Take it seriously. You also have a right to medical privacy, and doctor-patient confidentiality is also important,” he said. “And it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination.”
The media’s take
- Hours before Hannity’s broadcast, reports emerged that Fox News had instituted an employee “vaccine passport” system similar to the ones criticized by some of the network’s most popular personalities.
- “Fox and Friends” hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade on Monday encouraged viewers to get vaccinated, with Kilmeade comparing the choice to go unvaccinated with cliff-diving.
Counterpoint: While the media coverage made it seem like Fox News’ pro-vaccine messaging would outrage its audience, polls paint a more complicated picture.
- According to a survey of Republican news consumers released this month, only 16% of Fox News viewers say they would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Viewers of the more dissident One America News Network and Newsmax cable stations were twice as likely to say they wouldn’t get vaccinated.
The blowback from the right
Meanwhile, a contingent of conservatives slammed Hannity’s endorsement of the vaccine and accused Fox News of selling out.