- The White House has held discussions with Fox News about its COVID-19 vaccine coverage.
- Fox News hosts have been urging viewers for months to question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
- Investigations have found a partial rift in the will to get the shot.
The Biden administration has confronted Fox News over the bid of some of its top-rated hosts to undermine confidence in the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed at a news conference Tuesday that officials had held talks with the right-wing Fox News network and other media about their coverage of the vaccine’s rollout strategy.
“We’ve been in touch with every network and many, many media outlets covering COVID-19 to make sure people have accurate information, to express concerns when we have them,” Psaki said.
And specifically addressing Fox News, Psaki stressed “the importance of reaching Fox News’ audience about the COVID-19 vaccines and their benefits, and just as we are with all of you here today, we are of course in regular contact.”
Psaki’s statement came after CNN reported that discussions between White House officials and Fox News about its vaccination coverage had taken place regularly and at a “high level.”
A Fox News spokesman denied CNN’s characterization of the White House meetings.
“CNN’s reporting is inaccurate. There have been no high-level talks between Fox News Media and the White House about our coverage. We had a routine briefing with the White House in early May on vaccination rates, and our DC agencies. staff are regularly in touch with them on a variety of issues, as is the case with all other networks, “the spokesman said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for information about the meetings.
Over the past week, the Biden administration has intensified its backlash against vaccine skeptics and anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists as vaccination rates are delayed and the highly contagious Delta variant spreads rapidly.
Last week, President Joe Biden accused Facebook of “killing people” by hosting anti-vaccine propaganda on its platform in comments, which he then moderated. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Officer, said Saturday that media networks that have pushed vaccine-skeptical views have played a key role in discouraging many from getting shot.
Several studies have found a clear biased gap in the willingness to be vaccinated with the states where vaccination rates are lowest among the most conservative in the country.
Some of Fox News’ best hosts, including Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, have for months called on Americans to question the safety of vaccines, misrepresent the views of public health officials and skew data in their arguments.
Critics told Insider back in February that the campaign was likely an attempt to harm the Biden administration and increase ratings by touching on paranoia about plots from liberal and scientific “elites”.
In a sudden shift in message focus on Monday, hosts including Sean Hannity and Steve Doocey urged viewers to get the vaccine. Senior Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also issued public statements Monday, urging Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
A Fox News spokesman denied allegations that the positive comments about hosts being vaccinated on Monday were a new stance that led Insider to a list of times where hosts in recent months had expressed support for efforts to get Americans vaccinated.