Fox News host Sean Hannity urged viewers Monday night to “take COVID seriously,” saying he believes in the “science of vaccinations.”
It appears that his fellow primetime hosts weren’t moved by his appeal.
On Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson continued to promote vaccine skepticism, excoriating former Obama administration Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for her assertion that the unvaccinated may be putting other people’s lives at risk.
“Weird how many vaccinated people seem to be spreading the virus at this point,” Carlson said. He was responding to the news that a White House staffer and a member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, after attending a reception with Democratic lawmakers from Texas visiting in Washington to prevent the passage of new voting restrictions in the state Legislature.
The White House staffer and the member of Pelosi’s team, as well as the Texas lawmakers, had all been fully vaccinated.
“So maybe it’s not as simple as unvaccinated bad, vaccinated virtuous. Maybe it’s a disease, not a moral category,” Carlson said. “Maybe you should be quiet, Kathleen Sebelius, you’re an idiot.”
Fox News’ other primetime host, Laura Ingraham, used her 10 p.m. slot on Tuesday to rail against the White House’s vaccine outreach and mitigation efforts.
“Let people come to their own conclusions,” Ingraham said. “No more mandates. No more masks.”
Like Carlson, Ingraham has also extensively criticized the vaccine. She called the Biden administration’s door-to-door vaccine awareness campaign “creepy” and its calls to vaccinate children “disgusting.”
“Be smart, use your common sense,” she told viewers.
Fox News’ vaccine skepticism is not just relegated to primetime. During a discussion about deaths of unvaccinated people in recent weeks, the “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy implored viewers to “get the shot — it will save your life.”
But Doocy’s co-host Brian Kilmeade quickly interjected, telling viewers to “make your own decision” about the vaccine.
“We’re not doctors. I’m not going to go there and give you other medical advice,” Kilmeade said.
Doocy pointed out that 99 percent of the people who are dying from COVID are unvaccinated.
“That’s their choice,” Kilmeade replied.
“They don’t wanna die,” Doocy said. “So the administration and the government is saying we need the mask mandate to protect the unvaccinated.”
“That is not their job,” Kilmeade shot back. “It’s not their job to protect anybody.”
Some GOP leaders have pushed back against this rhetoric on Fox.
Earlier this month, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, called out conservative pundits who were raising concerns about the vaccines and playing down their importance.
“We have these — these talking heads who have gotten the vaccine and are telling other people not to get the vaccine,” Cox said in response to a question about anti-vaccine rhetoric. “That kind of stuff is just, it’s ridiculous. It’s dangerous, it’s damaging, and it’s killing people. I mean, it’s literally killing their supporters. And that makes no sense to me.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated the importance of vaccines on Tuesday, saying they’re needed to avoid another economic downturn. McConnell was then asked about Cox’s comments and about whether he would speak out against people who are casting doubt on the vaccines.
“I don’t know how I could be any more clear than I have been,” said McConnell, who contracted polio as a child. “I’ve been saying the same thing about vaccinations all along the way. Others can say whatever they choose to say, but this is something I think I’m a good example of, something I know the answer to. It’s not at all unclear that the way to avoid getting back in the hospital is to get vaccinated. I want to encourage [you] to do that and to ignore all the other voices who give demonstrably bad advice.”
Hannity’s plea Monday night for viewers to get vaccinated was wedged between segments in which he criticized vaccine mandates at universities and called attention to the case of a student at Brigham Young University-Hawaii who was temporarily paralyzed after receiving a different vaccine in 2019 and was not granted an exemption by the school.
On Tuesday night’s show, Hannity again urged viewers to take COVID seriously, following a monologue in which he bashed President Biden's chief health adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and suggested that the National Institutes of Health “may have played a role” in the development of COVID-19 — a conspiracy theory that Fauci and the NIH have vehemently denied.
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