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After spending the better part of a year discouraging viewers from getting vaccinated, Fox host Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves on November 29 to falsely claim that the U.S. has “achieved universal vaccination” and that continued high rates of coronavirus deaths mean the COVID-19 vaccination campaign is “the greatest public policy failure of all time.”
Carlson’s claim that the United States has “achieved universal vaccination” is categorically false. According to the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Tracker, 59.5 percent of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated as of November 28, with 70 percent of the population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Experts and medical professionals have battled an onslaught of vaccine hesitancy that has been driven partly by Carlson and his colleagues at Fox.
Deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. continue to far outpace those of other nations, and that is largely driven by deaths among the unvaccinated. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19-related complications than vaccinated people.
Carlson’s claim that the campaign to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, and thus prevent deaths, is a “failure” is a conclusion that can be reached only if you ignore every shred of relevant information and consider instead just the fictionalized vision of the vaccine that exists on Fox News. Carlson has dedicated an extraordinary amount of airtime not just to lying about and undercutting COVID-19 vaccination efforts, but also to attacking vaccines as a whole. To name just a few recent examples:
- Earlier this month, Carlson hosted notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to tell viewers that vaccines are one of the “key suspects” behind a rise in cases of autism. During the interview Carlson asked, “Will any thinking person ever trust vaccines again?”
- Carlson has repeatedly claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is killing Americans and called it the “single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history.”
- Frequent Carlson guest and COVID-19 truther Alex Berenson told Carlson’s viewers that “there's just no evidence that the vaccines halt infection or transmission in any way.”
Even though Fox has its own incredibly strict vaccination and testing policy for staff, the Murdoch family that owns the network has given Carlson’s reality-averse coverage of the pandemic its full backing. Across the network, vaccine misinformation has run rampant, with Fox throwing the health and safety of its viewers under multiple buses in exchange for imaginary culture war points.
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On Monday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed there were no supply chain or labor shortages in 2020 when former President Donald Trump was in office. But this is not true.
Cotton made his comments during an appearance on Fox News' Ingraham Angle hosted by Laura Ingraham.
"We've had this pandemic for two years, Laura, I don't remember inflation or supply chain shortages or labor shortages that we've seen this year in the first year of the pandemic," Cotton said. "What changed? Joe Biden and the Democrats took power in January."
But in a report his own office released in February, Cotton acknowledged supply chain problems that disrupted the distribution of personal protective equipment to doctors and hospitals.
Cotton's report, "Beat China: Targeted Decoupling and the Economic Long War," discusses actions taken by China to manufacture equipment for its virus response, which led to shortages elsewhere in the world.
"This move imperiled America's ability to procure personal protective equipment at the outset of the pandemic, likely costing American lives," the report said.
Supply chain problems became clear almost immediately after the pandemic began, forcing medical workers on the front lines of the response to reuse and ration equipment like N95 face masks. There were also more widespread supply-chain issues when Trump was in office, including shortages of groceries and consumer goods like toilet paper and diapers.
As the virus spread across the country, Trump refused to invoke the Defense Production Act to make more personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers.
"The federal government's not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping," Trump told reporters in March 2020. "You know, we're not a shipping clerk."
On January 21, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to get American manufacturers to produce more medical equipment.
Labor shortages also predate the Biden presidency. The percentage of workers participating in the economy fell as the pandemic began in 2020.
In a report on labor shortages, the Wall Street Journal noted in October that the percentage experienced its biggest drop since World War II "in the early months of the pandemic." Some economists have attributed the ongoing problem to lingering concerns about the virus as well as retirement schedules being accelerated.
The U.S. economy has improved since Biden took office. More than 5.5 million jobs have been added since January, and the unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 percent to 4.6 percent.
Nevertheless, Republicans keep using Cotton's misleading line of argument. In a Fox News appearance earlier this month, former Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway falsely claimed that "there wasn't a supply chain crisis" when Trump was in office.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.