Fox News is killing its own viewers — and the Murdoch family is fine with that

Fox News is killing its own viewers — and the Murdoch family is fine with that
Tucker Carlson // Fox News

As Fox News continues to degrade from propaganda to fascist propaganda to fascist burn-everything-down nihilism, the unfortunate souls at Media Matters for America are tasked with watching much of what the network produces so that it can be fact checked, or at least catalogued, or so that priests can be dispatched to perform the relevant exorcisms. It is grueling work, and anyone who can watch more than 10 Tucker Carlson rants without needing permanent hospitalization is a tougher soul than you or I.

As Fox News continues to claim, falsely, that ol' Tucker is not a white nationalism-promoting conspiracy-promoting violence-inciting anti-vaccine anti-safety weaselfaced liar with an actual pandemic body count to his name, Media Matters set out to catalog all of Tucker's mentions of vaccines during the Biden administration. There were 114 episodes of his Fox show that featured a segment about vaccines, reports Media Matters.

Of the 114 episodes, Tucker or his guest pushed anti-vaccine claims in 113. During 112 separate shows, either Tucker or his invited sockpuppets promoted conspiracy theories about the available vaccines, made false or unproven statements about vaccine side effects, claimed that the vaccines were less effective than the data shows them to be, stoked fear about the supposed oppression of vaccine requirements, or otherwise encouraged his viewers to believe false vaccine claims.

A special hat tip needs to go out to the show that compared vaccine mandates to "forced sterilization," though. Look, Tucker, if it's a quote you need, I for one would think America would be an infinitely better place if nobody who willingly watched your show could ever reproduce. Given the Fox News demographics, however, it's a problem that largely takes care of itself.

Carlson has been benefiting from a new Fox willingness to push even the most dangerous conspiracy theories out to viewers, a stance that coincides with the rise of Rupert Murdoch offspring Lachlan into the top executive role. Under old management, there were still some lines you could not cross, and those lines were drawn strictly for the benefit of the network's bottom line. Glenn Beck was allowed to sketch out convoluted, ludicrous conspiracy theories targeting everyone from George Soros to minor liberal enemies no Fox News viewer had previously heard of, but after Beck's rants resulted in an attempted domestic terrorist attack against one of his more obscure targets, the network—or rather, its advertising and legal teams—began to lose their stomachs for a show largely premised around making false claims about Republicanism's enemies so as to incite viewers into acting out against those enemies.

That was then, this is now, and if anything, Lachlan Murdoch's statements have suggested that he, personally, thinks that promoting fake propaganda to incite white nationalist or pro-fascist violence is a bit of a hoot. Tucker's been given free rein to demonize public health experts tasked with ending the pandemic, vaccine developers and manufacturers, and political figures willing to abide by previously uncontroversial pandemic safety plans like "you should obviously wear a mask to protect against an airborne disease, you brickheaded assholes."

The important context here, of course, is that the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has morphed solidly into a pandemic that is most severe in Republican-voting, Republican-governed regions of the country. That doesn't mean non-Republicans aren't getting sick and dying, but the vast majority of deaths are among the unvaccinated in places where vaccination rates are low and safety measures are often ignored.

The Americans who are dying in droves, in other words, are Fox News viewers. There's no guess as to when or if this will ever cut into Fox's own bottom line—having shed most of its advertisers, the network is more reliant than ever on "carriage fees" it charges to cable and satellite companies that feel compelled to offer it to their subscribers—but so far, network hosts are going pedal to the floor with an approach that maximizes viewer outrage towards pandemic restrictions while minimizing viewer willingness to have, you know, basic human decency.

That's an approach that both Lachlan and the Fox News board have given a stamp of approval to, even if the horrific amorality of leading your own viewers into mass death has caused several of the network's top "straight news" stars to leave the network rather than share airwaves with Tucker and his ilk.

But here's the data, in any event. When Lachlan Murdoch claims his hosts aren't promoting pandemic misinformation or making false claims about the vaccines that offer the best (only?) path towards the pandemic's eventual end, he's lying. Straight-up lying, and he knows it. Fox News may not be paying attention to what their own broadcasts are claiming, but other people are. And those other people have the goods, Lachlan.

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