Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
Facing the growing threat of the new delta variant of the coronavirus, President Joe Biden's administration has begun implementing new vaccination rules for federal workers and moving to implement universal vaccination in the military. And outside of government, more and more private companies are requiring employees to get vaccinated as Americans return to regular office work.
But in Fox News' telling, this kind of national effort is somehow a threat to everything this country is supposed to be about — even as Fox News is doing it, too.
Yes, vaccine mandates are legal — and have been here a long time
Speaking on Thursday, Biden said it was "still a question" as to whether the federal government could mandate that the whole citizenry get vaccinated. But even if that is not the case, there would still be plenty of other opportunities for vaccine mandates by state and local governments, private companies, and the federal government in its capacity as an employer.
So far this year, courts have upheld vaccine requirements for private hospital employment and to attend state universities. And none of this should have been surprising because public school system already require vaccinations, which has suddenly become controversial amid the anti-vaccine propaganda during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond that, the idea of state and local governments simply mandating that all residents get vaccinated — not just depending on a particular job or school attendance — was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court all the way back in the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which occurred in the context of a regional smallpox epidemic. The court ruled that "a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members," unless there was compelling evidence in a specific case that an individual could be harmed by the vaccination.
But Fox News is ignoring all of this context and history to further its anti-vaccine fearmongering campaign.
Fox News declares vaccine passports un-American — despite their own vaccine passport system
Just as a reminder: Fox News already has its own vaccine passport at its offices under a program called the "Fox Clear Pass," in which employees who provide their vaccine information are allowed to bypass daily health screenings. But the network has simultaneously claimed that the Biden administration was attacking "unvaccinated Americans," speaking as if such a category represented an ethnic group or other protected minority.
On the Friday night edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Tammy Bruce welcomed author and Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who argued that "we cannot let the government or these corporations turn people into second-class citizens unless they bend the knee." The segment opened with Bruce approvingly reading a quote by Vance that "there is nothing more antithetical to what this country stands for than draconian vaccine passport mandates."
Bruce, moreover, compared the disparate treatment of people based on whether they've been vaccinated to the most disgraceful examples of racial segregation in the country's history — while of course ignoring that the company where she was working, Fox News, was already conducting an internal vaccine passport system.
TAMMY BRUCE (HOST): You know, let me say, and as we move now into these, these other ideas that would separate and segregate the American people — if you don't have your papers, or for in our American history, which thank goodness we have grown out of and become a better nation, is the idea that if you don't conform, if you don't look like other people, if you don't behave like a majority, you will have to sit in the back of the bus, you cannot sit at the counter in the diner.
Americans refuse to return to that dynamic, no matter what our skin color, but especially for communities of color and those who might not have the same kind of finances or access to power to push back.
On Friday's edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host appeared against a backdrop reading "Vaccine Coercion," as he seemed to suggest that mandates would lead to violence.
"The question is, really, how long are Americans going to put up with this? What happens when large groups of people start to resist these mandates?" Carlson said. "As inevitably they will, because they're too unreasonable, they're too irrational, they're not rooted in science. They are pushing us toward something awful."And on Friday night's The Ingraham Angle, guest host Brian Kilmeade falsely declared: "But I don't think you can mandate someone to get vaccinated, I'm pretty sure that we've never done that before."
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