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Tag: covid vaccine campaign

Fox News Buried Trump’s Endorsement Of Vaccination Campaign

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Former President Donald Trump urged Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday night. "I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it — and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly," he said during a Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo. "It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works." While Trump caveated his comments by saying that "we have our freedoms and we have to live by that," his comments were nonetheless significant because, as he indicated, polls show Republicans are particularly hesitant to take the vaccine.

But Trump's remarks will have an impact only if his supporters hear them. And while his comments originally aired on Fox, that network -- by far the most popular and influential among Trump voters -- has largely ignored them since.

In the 36 hours following Trump's vaccine endorsement, Fox devoted only about six and a half minutes to the remarks. Only a handful of programs covered the remarks; flagship "straight news" broadcast Special Report and popular opinion shows The Five, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and The Ingraham Angle are among those that have not aired or referenced the comments.

Sean Hannity became the only Fox prime-time host thus far to discuss Trump's vaccine endorsement when he briefly mentioned it (without playing the clip) on Wednesday night. But that aside came in the context of criticizing mainstream media for "chastising" Republicans for not wanting to get vaccinated.

Hannity, to his credit, said that he personally plans to get the shot and acknowledged Trump's comments, but then pivoted to arguing that "it isn't really anyone's business" who gets vaccinated and that "you need to make your own decision" no matter what liberals say.


It's not hard to tell when Fox's hosts and executives want the network's viewers to hear a politician's comment -- the clip will air over and over again across the network's programming, interspersed with segments dissecting it.

That's what happened when President Joe Biden described Republican governors who lifted COVID restrictions, including mask mandates, as engaged in "Neanderthal thinking" on March 3.

Fox ran roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes of coverage about the purported controversy over the following 36 hours — 12 times as much coverage as it later devoted to Trump's vaccine endorsement. The "Neanderthal" commentary spanned almost the entire Fox lineup during that timespan, with several shows featuring multiple segments of discussion.

Fox could have treated Trump's comments with the same urgency that it did a random Bidenism, using the network's megaphone to encourage their viewers to be safe. But Fox's hosts are apparently more interested in making their audiences feel victimizedthan they are in keeping viewers healthy and alive, and its executives, including the Murdochs, are willing to let them as long as the money continues rolling in.

Bar chart comparing Fox coverage of Trump endorsing vaccines vs. its coverage of Biden's "neanderthal" comment

I keep coming back to this because it's true: Fox has a unique moral responsibility, having successfully convinced viewers not to believe anything mainstream news outlets report. There are vanishingly few other vehicles available to reach the network's audience with critical public health information. The network could be trying to create a permission structure to help viewers decide to take safe, effective shots in order to drastically reduce their personal risk from a deadly virus that has killed more than 530,000 Americans.

But Fox is instead failing its viewers, as it has throughout the pandemic. The network's most popular hosts would rather pander to anti-vaxxers for ratings and clout than tell their viewers, "I am going to get vaccinated, just like our founder Rupert Murdoch did, and you should too."

It's disgusting and cowardly and everyone involved should be ashamed.

Methodology

Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any variation of the term "vaccine" within close proximity of the term "Trump" from March 16 through 8 a.m. EDT March 18, 2021.

We also searched the transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for the term "Neanderthal" from March 3 through March 5, 2021.

We timed any segments, which we defined as instances when either story was the stated topic of discussion or when we found "significant discussion" of either topic. We defined "significant discussion" as instances when two or more speakers discussed either topic with one another. We also timed teasers for segments coming up later in the broadcast, and we timed passing mentions of either story, which we defined as instances when a single speaker mentioned either topic without another speaker in the same segment engaging with the comment.

We included any instances that fell within the first 36 hours after Biden and Trump's comments. We rounded all times to the nearest half-minute.

Research contributions from Lis Power and Rob Savillo

Misinformer, Meet Liar: Correcting Maria Bartiromo’s Latest Trump Interview

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

On March 16, Fox News Primetime and Fox's Maria Bartiromo hosted former President and Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump for a friendly interview full of the kind of lies and misinformation for which both interviewer and interviewee are known.

Bartiromo spent most of the interview lobbing softball questions and letting blatant lies go unchecked while the former president rattled off a series of lies and delusions. In several instances, Bartiromo herself was a source of false information.

Below is a list of some of the lies and distortions uncritically aired by Fox.

Trump's Phone Calls To Georgia Officials Conflated

Bartiromo misrepresented a correction issued by The Washington Post regarding a conversation between Trump and Georgia election investigator Frances Watson, asserting that the correction was in regard to the now-infamous conversation between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The Post reported that Watson had a conversation with Trump in which the then-president pressured Watson to "find the fraud" and said she would become a "national hero" if she did so. The statements turned out to be false, meriting correction, yet Trump and right-wing media have used the error to excuse and vindicate Trump's behavior during the 2020 election and the aftermath.

As explained by Vox:

According to a newly surfaced recording of the call with Watson, Trump did not in fact use those exact words. He did say she could find "dishonesty" in Fulton County, and that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised." But the language of the quotes the Post attributed to Trump were not accurate. As a result, the Post had to run a prominent correction. Trump and conservatives are now scorning the paper, and even some mainstream reporters are looking askance and wondering how it happened.
The correction was merited — it's important for reporters (and their sources) to be careful in attributing exact language in quotes. And it is unfortunate that these incorrect quotes spread so widely.
...
However, Trump has used the correction to claim in a statement that "the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning," which is untrue. The original story that got so much attention was Trump's call with Raffensperger, for which we had the full and accurate transcript all along. It has not been corrected. Furthermore, it remains the case that Trump did in fact call Watson to insist he won the state and that she should turn up evidence revealing fraud. "The country is counting on it," he said.

More Lies About The 2020 Election

Trump stated that "our Supreme Court and our courts didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned." Courage had nothing to do with it; in fact, of the 62 lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies in a desperate and embarrassing attempt to delay the inevitable, all but one were rejected.

The Supreme Court itself declined to take up two Trump-supported lawsuits over the election, rejecting a major one from Texas as lacking standing and saying all other pending motions were "moot."

Lies About Voting Bights Bill HR-1

V

Trump echoed Fox News's drumbeat of misinformation around HR-1, or the For The People Act, which would expand voting rights and increase campaign finance transparency across the country. Trump echoed Fox's claim that the For The People Act is not constitutional, despite legal precedent and even though experts have affirmed that H.R. 1 is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power. In the interview, Baritomo gave Trump free reign to echo right-wing media attempts to falsely paint the legislation as a corrupt attempt to seize power from Republicans and state legislatures.

Lies About Immigration


Trump said immigrants coming through the southern border would "destroy our country if they don't do something about it." He also claimed that there was an influx of migrants arriving from the Middle East. The claim likely relates to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent statement that migrants at the border are "not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador. They're now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they're rushing in all at once."

There is no concrete evidence backing this assertion. In fact, according to The Washington Post, Trump's own State Department debunked the claim:

The Trump administration first asserted this in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, offering a range of misleading statistics to buttress the claim that terrorists from the Middle East were filtering through the U.S.-Mexico border. But administration officials never offered any proof or identified a single terrorist.
In reports issued during the Trump administration, the State Department said that there was "no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States" and that "there have been no cases of terrorist groups exploiting these gaps to move operations through the region."

COVID-19 Vaccine


Trump claimed that he and his administration "came up with the vaccine, which is going to save the world." Of course, that's incorrect, and the COVID-19 vaccine went into development almost as soon as the coronovirus's genetic sequence was made public.

The claim also sits uncomfortably amid Fox News's reticence to encourage its viewers to actually get vaccinated. Hosts on the network are regularly sowing doubt and distrust in vaccinations, Tucker Carlson accused President Joe Biden of "vaccine coercion," and Laura Ingraham called Biden's COVID-19 relief speech "vaccine propaganda." The network is caught between indignation that Trump doesn't receive enough gratitude for the existence of the vaccine and assertions that the vaccine itself should not be trusted.

That being said, it is objectively good that Trump told his supporters to take the vaccine, especially given that others at Fox have been suggesting otherwise.

Tucker Carlson Ignites Outrage With Deceptive Anti-Vax Tirade

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is being accused of promoting coronavirus vaccine skepticism and anti-vaxxer talking points when he posed questions Monday night as if they were unanswered and legitimate – questions that have been very publicly answered for months.

"So all of this should prompt some pretty tough questions for our public health experts in this country," Carlson insisted to several hundred thousand viewers. "And one of those questions is, how effective is this coronavirus vaccine? How necessary is it to take the vaccine? Don't dismiss those questions from 'anti-vaxxers,'" he said scornfully.

"Don't kick people off social media for asking them, answer the questions."

"The administration would like you to take this vaccine. Joe Biden told you last week if you don't you can't celebrate the Fourth of July. But it turns out there are things we don't know about the effects of this vaccine — and all vaccines by the way."

Americans generally agree that the job of a journalist is to inform, to deliver news and information, not to ask basic questions that are easily answered because – in this case – the federal government and the vaccine manufacturers have already answered them.

These are not state secrets, but as many on social media noted, when you posed them as if they were, you're promoting anti-vaxx skepticism, and during a pandemic, that is potentially deadly.

Watch Carlson from his Monday night show:

Last year CNN reported Carlson makes $10 million a year. And while the combined annual salaries of everyone I know don't reach that staggering umber, let's do Tucker's job for him.

Just going to Google and entering "how e" literally gave me the answer:

And, as most Americans already know, the vaccines range between about 85% effective (Johnson & Johnson, one dose shot) to about 95% effective (Moderna and Pfizer, two-dose shots.)

But Carlson thinks the government is hiding this information. It's not.

Media Matters has a longer clip here.

Here's how some are reacting: