Fox News ramps up its dangerously misleading anti-vaxxer tweets on its official Twitter account

Fox News ramps up its dangerously misleading anti-vaxxer tweets on its official Twitter account

What Fox News says and what Fox News does can be two very different things. The right-wing cable news channel has a COVID-19 vaccine requirement in its Manhattan headquarters, and in December 2021, a Fox News spokesman told the New York Times that more than 90% of its employees had been vaccinated for COVID-19. But that hasn’t stopped Fox News from shamelessly promoting anti-vaxxer nonsense.

Journalist Aaron Blake, in an article published by the Washington Post on February 7, takes a look at anti-vaxxer tweets that have been coming from Fox News’ Twitter account @FoxNews — some of which are implying that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.

“For the entirety of the coronavirus vaccination campaign,” Blake explains, “one of vaccine skeptics’ most oft-used and likely effective tools has been to focus on vaccinated people falling ill. Often, this will be done without explicitly linking the two events, but the suggestion and implication will be there for everyone to see. This is especially popular among fringe, conspiracy theory websites and blogs.”

Blake notes that in a February 6 tweet, for example, Fox News tweeted that comedian Heather McDonald had collapsed on stage during a performance in Tempe, Arizona after telling the audience that she had received a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot. There was no proof that McDonald’s collapse had anything to do with the booster shot, and according to Blake, “Those close to McDonald have cited dehydration (as) a potential cause.”

“Just the day prior,” Blake observes, “Fox also ran a lengthy piece on a New Jersey mother who fell ill shortly after getting a vaccine — a vaccine she said she didn’t want to get but felt compelled to. She wanted to take part in her pre-wedding events for her daughter’s upcoming nuptials in New York City, which was launching vaccine requirements for many businesses.”

Blake continues, “The story’s headline reads: ‘NJ mom, forced to get vaccine before a family wedding, ends up in the ER.’ An accompanying tweet again features a tabloid-y ALL CAPS lead-in: ‘BAD JAB: Mom of bride lands in ER after mandates force her to get COVID vax for wedding’…. This piece is much more explicit about implying and even flat-out stating a connection between the vaccine and the mother falling ill with ‘a blazing headache and very high blood pressure.’”

The Post journalist also points out that Fox News has described anti-vaxxers as “freedom fighters,” and some of its hosts have falsely claimed that the vaccines aren’t working. Some Fox News hosts have been promoting the anti-vaxxer truck drivers who oppose Canada's vaccine mandate for truckers, which says that truck drivers entering Canada from the U.S. must show proof of vaccination for COVID-19.

But even former President Donald Trump has recently been stressing that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and are saving lives, arguing that Republicans should be taking credit for the vaccines instead of attacking them.

“The arguments of…. anti-vaccine activists have long had a home on Fox, particularly on Tucker Carlson’s show and other opinion shows,” Blake explains. “But to the extent it continues to bleed into other coverage and the framing of stories and tweets from the hard news side, that’s notable. What we’re increasingly seeing is that the market for vaccine skepticism on the right has spoken, and politicians and influencers are responding accordingly. While most Republicans are vaccinated, most are now spurning boosters.”


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