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New Poll Reveals Deadly Impact Of Fox’s Pandemic Disinformation

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new poll out this week, also reported on by The Washington Post, showing the alarming extent to which COVID-19 misinformation has penetrated among American adults, but particularly Republicans and people who consume right-wing media. The really scary thing: A lot of people actually believe the things they see on Fox News and further right networks like Newsmax.

The poll found that Republicans' No. 1 most trusted source for information is Fox News. Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between trusting Fox News and believing one or more pieces of COVID-19 misinformation, with 36% of people who trust Fox believing or being unsure about four or more pieces of COVID-19 misinformation.

And while Kaiser made clear that it could not "disentangle" the complex issue of whether these news sources are causing their viewers to believe misinformation — or if instead people who are predisposed to such misinformation are flocking to Fox News and other right-wing media outlets — that kind of chicken-or-the-egg question does not simply acquit Fox from its responsibility for encouraging these apparently widespread misconceptions among its viewers.

Even if this is a vicious feedback loop between media outlets that push misinformation and an audience eager to hear it, Fox is still choosing to be part of the problem rather than the solution. The network is enthusiastically spreading misinformation — and looking to make a buck from it, since according to Fox insiders, the COVID-19 lies have been "great for ratings."

Fox News Under Trump Played Down COVID-19 Deaths

The poll found that a whopping 84 percent of Republicans either believe or are unsure about whether the government has exaggerated the number of COVID-19 deaths. By contrast, researchers have said throughout the pandemic that the numbers are likely undercounted. But there is a reason so many Republican voters believe this: Right-wing media, especially Fox News, mounted a full-scale push to spread doubt about the COVID-19 death count during the first year of the pandemic— that is, while former President Donald Trump was in office.

Very early on during the pandemic, Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume claimed in April 2020 that "we're going to get a very large number of deaths" attributed to COVID-19, but which he said would not be an "accurate count" due to co-morbidities. Fox host Tucker Carlson replied, "There may be reasons that people seek an inaccurate death count, but we can address that later." At that point, the official death toll in the United States was only 13,000, but Fox news anchor Harris Faulkner also argued even that was too high a count: "How many of those people had other health risks at play, though? And maybe it wasn't, in fact, COVID-19 that caused their death."

As the death count kept climbing, network figures pushed a full propaganda campaign arguing that the numbers were too high, and siding with the Trump White House in "pushing back" against the official reports. Polling then showed that Fox viewers believed the conspiracy theory about supposedly inflated death tolls, even as public health experts argued that the official numbers were actually too low. By December 2020, Fox host Laura Ingraham argued that "the virus is a lot less lethal than previously thought," even as the official death count reached 300,000.

Fox News Under Biden Imagined Mass Vaccine Deaths

The poll also found that 28 percent of Republicans believe the government is hiding vaccine-related deaths — while another 16 percent have heard this claim but are unsure about it, and only 8% know it is false. And here, too, Fox News has done its part to spread the lie.

While Carlson and other Fox hosts set out to claim that COVID-19 deaths were being overcounted in 2020, they have set out to paint a frightening picture of the vaccines in 2021. Carlson claimed in May that nearly 4,000 people had died from the vaccine, and that "the actual number is almost certainly higher than that — perhaps vastly higher than that." Those claims had circulated online for months before Carlson picked them up, and the online chatter has only picked up since then.

The claims are based on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a government-run public database where individuals can self-report side effects or other incidents following a vaccination. The problem, however, is that the information in VAERS is unvetted and does not always differentiate negative health events from their normal frequency in the population — or even confirm whether they happened at all. As Meredith Wadman of Science notes, "One of VAERS's strengths — its openness — is also a potential weakness in the politicized COVID-19 era."

Earlier this year, for example, a VAERS report that a two-year-old allegedly died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine during clinical trials was later removed from the system for being "completely made up" — in fact, vaccine testing for children that young had not even begun at the time of the report.

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch stood by Carlson's escalating series of claims. "He basically just went into the CDC data, right?" Murdoch said. "So there's nothing the CDC itself isn't saying." (In fact, a disclaimer on the VAERS site actually makes clear: "The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable.")

By now, Carlson's show and other Fox programming have used these claims in order to argue that the vaccine is deadlier than COVID-19 itself. Fox News could not possibly believe all of this at the company level, though — despite Lachlan Murdoch's public support for Carlson — because the company also practices a strict vaccination and testing mandate at its company offices, as well as at its upcoming corporate shareholder meeting.

Republicans Seek The Easy Drug — But Not Vaccines — With Fox's Help

The poll also found that 28 percent of Republicans believe that the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, while another 17 perecent were familiar with the claim but unsure of its validity, and only six percent know it is false. Fox News has promoted ivermectin for about a year, in something of a sequel to the network's earlier promotion of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Going by the same playbook, Fox hosts have denounced the "medical establishment" for purportedly lying about the drug because it is a "threat" to the adoption of the vaccines; claimed that researchers "will never develop a drug that is more effective than ivermectin"; and that it is a "miracle drug" with "little to no side effects."

Following a warning in August from the Food and Drug Administration, which highlighted the drug's "highly dangerous" side effects if taken to excess or in combination with other medications, the network has continued to advocate for the drug. One Fox guest imagined the rest of the media thinking, "If we could have just maybe stopped some people from taking ivermectin, maybe we can get more people to take the vaccine."

What this really did, though, was expose via psychological projection the entire right-wing influence operation to keep pushing any possible drug except the vaccines on their audiences.

Fox Shareholder Meeting: Vaccine Passports And Strict Pandemic Protocols

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The Fox Corporation's upcoming annual shareholder meeting in Los Angeles will feature something that totally contradicts its own media outlets' right-wing editorial line: vaccination passports, mask requirements, and a variety of other COVID-19 safety measures as part of Fox's health and safety protocols.

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The Murdochs Love Tucker Carlson’s Vile Conspiracy Theories

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Tucker Carlson's Fox News show is a toxic combination of Infowars-style conspiracy theories and Stormfront-esque xenophobia because that's what network founder Rupert Murdoch, parent company CEO Lachlan Murdoch, and network CEO Suzanne Scott want in their 8 p.m. hour. Fox executives keep making excuses for Carlson's malignant commentary, he correctly interprets their defenses as a green light to be ever more extreme, and all the other stakeholders in the network are willing to go along with it.

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"Father Knows Best": A One-Act Play

"MEDICAL TYRANNY" reads the screaming headline in large red letters behind Tucker Carlson as he broadcasts his show on Fox News.

CARLSON: It's purely about obedience, it's hardly about medicine. More than 150 health care workers in that Houston hospital system were fired just because they wouldn't be vaccinated, so remember that the next time they tell you there's a health care shortage in this country. This is lunacy. We should not go along with it. It has nothing to do with medicine. It is a terrifying precedent that, if we let solidify, we will deeply, deeply regret. This is not about Covid, this is about the existence of rational decision-making in this country and personal autonomy. Most people are going along with this because they are afraid. A few brave souls are not.

He shuffles his papers and puts them aside.

CARLSON: Ta-ta-da, da, da, da da! That's all folks!

VOICE OF PRODUCER: Thanks, Tucker! Another wrap.

CARLSON: Just a couple more weeks from this studio for the season. Love this place. Wish I could spend all my time here. On Bryant Pond. Maine. Bliss. A studio of my own, next to a summer place of my own. All my own.

VOICE: Florida, Tucker.

CARLSON: The studio will be up and running at my Florida house when I get there in September. Live, from Gasparilla Island in Grande Boca! Maine man becomes Florida man!

VOICE: Are we ever going to see you in D.C. or New York again?

CARLSON: Now why would I do that? Would that be quote rational decision-making unquote? Sold the big Washington house for that reason. They'd make me go into the Fox studio on the Hill. Half the technicians aren't vaccinated. It's a leprosy ward. Covid has made all my home studios possible. Who knew before the pandemic you could do this? What a breakthrough! And it's completely safe and sound. I owe this whole setup to Covid. It's a godsend. Plus, a tax write-off.

VOICE: We're all vaccinated now and we even have vaccine passports to get in the building.

CARLSON: I don't trust it. Some of those guys, I know them, would fake the passports. I'm in my studios so long as Lachlan says so.

Carlson leaves his custom studio in the cottage on his property, walks a short distance to his house and as he enters his daughter Hopie greets him.

CARLSON: Hopie!

HOPIE: Daddy, my girlfriends love what you brought me from Hungary. The dolls, the nesting dolls. What do they call them?

CARLSON: Matryoshka dolls. The prime minister Viktor Orban, gave them to me as a gift. And I told him that it had your name on it.

HOPIE: First, there's Putin. Then when you open him, there's Orban. And when you open Orban, there's Donald Trump. And then when you open Trump—surprise!—there's you, Daddy! I love you as a little doll. How did they know to put you inside all of the others?

CARLSON: They made that one in my honor. There's only one of these. It was like a state visit. And during state visits the leaders give each other presents. They always gave Trump paintings of himself. And this was the special gift for me. Only more clever.

HOPIE: Hand painted. It's the old you. With a bow tie.

CARLSON: So, are you almost ready to go back to school? Got all your clothes picked out?

HOPIE: Yes, Daddy.

CARLSON: And your proof of vaccination? I read the student vaccine requirement. "All students who live, learn, or work in person at the University of Virginia during the 2021-2022 academic year must be fully vaccinated." Don't forget your vaccination card.

HOPIE: (Exasperated) Daddy!

CARLSON: I'm just worried about you. I want you to be safe.

Enter Susan Carlson, Tucker's wife and Hopie's mother.

SUSAN: Tucker, there were two calls while you were broadcasting. Lachlan Murdoch and Donald Trump.

CARLSON: Susie, please make sure Hopie has her vaccination card to take to school.

SUSAN: All under control, right Hopie? Come with me, let's pack some more and leave Daddy to make his calls. Tucker, Trump seemed pretty urgent.

CARLSON: I've got to call Lachlan.

Susan and Hopie exit. Carlson punches in a number on his phone.

CARLSON: Lachlan!

LACHLAN: Tucker, so glad you called.

CARLSON: Everything cool down under?

LACHLAN: Swimming with the sharks at Bondi Beach, mate. Just checking in on my numero uno. The show on "Medical Tyranny," brilliant, mate. And brilliant about how we're going to be "invaded" by Afghan refugees. Turned that invasion bit inside out. We're being invaded! Heh, heh.

CARLSON: Heh, heh.

LACHLAN: The numbers remain spectacular, mate. Sky high. I'll take that instead of the woop woop to outer space with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Now, about this Covid stuff, mate…

CARLSON: (Slightly anxious) I should stick with it, don't you think?

LACHLAN: You said there's no new variant killing people, zero chance. You said, Fauci is taking away our liberty, forcing people to take medicine they don't want. You said, college kids shouldn't get the shot, a bigger risk for them than Covid.

CARLSON: Is that a problem?

LACHLAN: It's a bloody beauty. No drama. Good on ya. Put another on the barbie. Keep going to never never. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Flat out. That's not me blowing smoke up your ass. The numbers never lie. You're Braveheart.

CARLSON: I'll ramp it up on Fauciism. How's Rupert? Where is he these days, London, Sydney, New York?

LACHLAN: When the Delta variant hit, Dad got the booster and went back to Bel Air in L.A., like he did in the first wave after he got an early shot. It's a world in itself there. The house is on the Moraga Vineyards, fourteen acres in the middle of Bel Air, up in the Santa Monica Mountains. Once owned by Victor Fleming, directed Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Now who's the wizard from Oz? Makes ace wine. I'll ship you a case or two. Red or white?

CARLSON: Mix it up.

LACHLAN: Two cases of each. Make it three.

CARLSON: Send it to the Florida address.

LACHLAN: And I'm sending you a doctor to give you a booster to go along with the cabernet. Don't say no. You don't have a choice. The wine and the doctor will be there to meet you. Keep it going, mate.

CARLSON: Best to your father.

LACHLAN: Your biggest fan. Catch you later.

Carlson punches another number in his phone.

CARLSON: Mr. President?

TRUMP: Watched your show. Love "Medical Tyranny." How are the numbers? Still a winner, Tucker?

CARLSON: Top of the line, Mr. President.

TRUMP: I was just on Fox Business, told them that the booster sounded like a money-making operation for Pfizer and that the whole thing is just crazy. Why would you need another one? It's the Trump vaccine. It's good for life. I could see the dollar signs in their eyes—of that guy that runs Pfizer. You know, the guy that announced the day after the election that he had the vaccine. But we knew that, and I knew that, and the people knew that. A money-making operation, that's what it is. Yeah, a money-making operation.

CARLSON: You would know.

TRUMP: Who else would know better?

CARLSON: Great work, keep it up. So, what should I know, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I had Dr. Ronny come to Bedminster. Lined up everyone—Ivanka, Jared, Don, Jr., Eric, Lara---bing, bing, bing, bing. Everyone gets the booster. Oh, and that annoying Kimberley. Ivanka didn't want to tell her Dr. Ronny was there. Let her die out on the 9th hole.

CARLSON: Mr. President, what you said about the booster is perfect about the elites against the people.

TRUMP: Before I tell you what I think you should be saying, I want to tell you that you have to get the booster. You're vaccinated, Tucker, not like some poor schmuck, like the guy who wanted a shot when they were putting the ventilator on his face? He's begging, give me the shot and they're telling him it's too late, and they clamp on the ventilator. Please, please, the shot…

CARLSON: Pfizer, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Two shots, but maybe not enough. Booster. Take no chances. Take it and run. You're too valuable. You can knock that Pfizer CEO around like I did. It's a charm. My PAC fundraising, off the charts. You want me to send Dr. Ronny?

CARLSON: That's not necessary, Mr. President. I'm using the Murdoch doctor.

TRUMP: But promise me you'll get it.

CARLSON: I promise.

TRUMP: Father knows best.


Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel ,and All the Powers of Earth. His play This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks. This is the tenth in his "Trump Cycle" series of one-act plays published in The National Memo, including The Pardon, Epstein's Ghost, Ivanka's Choice, Sunset Boulevard, The Exclusive, The Role Model, A Modest Proposal, The Exit Interview, and The Hitler Gospel.

Why Is Tucker Carlson Still On TV After Advertisers Have Fled?

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Remember when bigoted Fox News hosts were forced to take unscheduled 'vacations' when their hateful speech kicked up controversy and advertisers, feeling pressure from outraged consumers, would head for the exits? It's been a long-standing Fox News tradition, as a way to cool the marketplace temperature and ride out storms.

In 2018, Laura Ingraham hastily left for "a pre-planned vacation" as advertisers started fleeing her show after she mocked a Parkland school shooting survivor online. The year before, Sean Hannity suddenly vanished from the airwaves when advertisers began dropping his time slot when he kept fueling an ugly conspiracy theory about the murder of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer.

And last summer, Tucker Carlson announced a "long-planned" vacation that weirdly started on a Tuesday night, just as high-profile advertisers were ditching him after CNN discovered that Carlson's head writer had spent years pseudonymously posting wildly vulgar, KKK-like rants online.

Today, those vacations appear to be a thing of the past, even as Carlson purposefully courts controversy with hate speech, remaining a blight on our cuture. (He recently lied, claiming the Covid-19 vaccine has killed thousands of Americans.)

Consider that weeks after the election, Tucker Carlson told viewers that "the 2020 presidential election was not fair" and that "no honest person would claim that it was fair." Just two days before the deadly January 6 insurrection, he claimed that election was "rigged" and then, "There is no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6."

There's a reason prominent white nationalist Andrew Anglin, who oversee the hate site Daily Stormer, has described Carlson's Fox News show as "basically 'Daily Stormer: The Show,'" and called Carlson "literally our greatest ally."

Carlson generated more headlines last week when he denounced Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a "disgraceful," "stupid" "pig" after Milley told lawmakers that military personnel should be "widely read" and that included learning about issues such as critical race theory. Several veterans groups responded with outrage, and pressured USAA, which provides financial services to personnel and the families of those who serve or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, to stop advertising on Carlson's show.

In theory it should work. Just ask previous, top-rated Fox News hosts such as Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck who got tossed overboard when their shows became largely ad-free zones after advertisers walked away following scandalous commentary (Obama is a "racist"), and behavior (chronic sexual harassing.)

For years progressive activists used that marketplace dynamic as a key leverage point, working hard to drive advertisers away from Fox News' toxic content. The tug-of-war was well defined: If hosts insisted on trafficking in clearly racist, homophobic and hateful language, then Madison Ave. clients were going to be forced to make a choice, stand with Fox or stand with common decency.

For dozens (hundreds?) of advertisers and would-be Fox advertisers, that choice over the years has been a no-brainer. Corporate America spends untold billions each year cultivating brand value and has no interest flushing that away via some hot-headed basic cable host. Bye-bye Disney, Lexus, T-Mobile etc. They all have dropped Carlson.

He's Madison Ave. poison. So why does he still have a show?

What's now protecting Carlson, aside from the support he gets from Murdoch's powerful son, Lachlan, who has publicly defended the host's white supremacy programming, are cable fees. Billions of dollars in cable fees. The network earns more annually in fees from cable operators, such as Comcast and Verizon, that pay to carry Fox News content, than the network earns from advertising.

What's so unusual about the Fox News carrier fees is it's wildly bloated in terms of how many people actually watch the network.

From Judd Legum's Popular Information:

According to a survey conducted late last year, about 14% of cable TV subscribers watch Fox News regularly. But every cable TV subscriber pays an average of $1.72 a month to receive Fox News. In contrast, 31% of cable TV subscribers regularly watch FX (owned by Disney) but the channel adds just $0.81 to an average cable bill. This means, for every actual viewer, Fox News receives a $7.75 subsidy from people who never watch Fox News.

The network rakes in nearly $2 billion each year from the hidden subscriber fees, twice as much as CNN and three times as much as MSNBC. Those sky-high fees in turn protect Fox News when advertisers abandon the network.

Meanwhile, Carlson is scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of remaining advertisers (WaxRx, Fungi-Nail), led by Trump sycophant Mike Lindell's MyPillow.

Back at the end of March, "Of the 81 minutes and 15 seconds of Tucker Carlson Tonight ad time from March 25-31, My Pillow made up about 20% of those, Fox News Channel promos had over 5% and Fox Nation had nearly 4%," TVRev reported. So, almost 1-in-3 ad minutes were filled by a partisan Carlson ally, which means he's playing with house money.

We know there's no collective conscience among managers at Fox News. Without the marketplace pressure of advertising boycotts to occasionally shame the network, it's difficult to hold Murdoch's rogue operation accountable.

UPDATED: For more on carrier fees and taking on Fox News, see #UnFoxMyCablebox

With Murdoch’s Encouragement, Carlson Promotes White Nationalist ‘Replacement’ Theory

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

When Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch replied in April to the firestorm caused by his star Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, passionately invoking the "great replacement" conspiracy theory favored by white nationalists, Murdoch chose to lie.

"A full review of the guest interview indicates that Mr. Carlson decried and rejected replacement theory," Murdoch wrote. This was obviously and insultingly false. Carlson had explicitly endorsed its core tenets during the April 8 segment, saying that "the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World." White nationalists themselves knew better: They praised the Fox host for bringing their talking points to his massive audience.

His boss' dishonest comment was a green light for Carlson to continue to promote that conspiracy theory -- and the host took it as such. Over the past two months, as Carlson became the face of Fox, "replacement" has proven a dominant theme of his program. It also spread to other Fox personalities and, increasingly, to Republican political operatives and politicians as well. Given Carlson's sway over both his network and the GOP, that trend is likely to continue.

Here are eight examples of Carlson pushing the white nationalist "great replacement" theory in the two months since Murdoch claimed that he had actually repudiated it, most recently on Monday night. While Carlson is generally careful not to directly say that Democrats want white people replaced by nonwhite ones, his remarks -- referencing migrants from Congo, Haiti, and across the U.S.-Mexico border -- leave no one confused that that is what he is talking about.

June 7: "How did migrants get from Congo to Lewiston, Maine, and why?" Carlson asked about President Joe Biden's immigration policy. "Well, because [Biden White House adviser] Susan Rice and ideologues like her very much want to change Maine's demographics as well as the population mix in every other state in the union." He went on to accuse Democratic leaders of "importing huge numbers of new voters into the United States" because they "no longer believe in democracy as constituted, and they definitely don't plan to lose another election," calling this "the most radical possible attack on the core premise of democracy."

May 24: After the Biden administration extended temporary protected status preventing the removals of Haitian nationals residing in the U.S. who fled following a 2010 earthquake in that country, Carlson accused the Democrats of "trying to change the population of the United States, and they hate it when you say that because it's true, but that's exactly what they are doing." During the segment, a chyron read, "Dems want to import millions of new voters."

May 21: Responding to a guest who claimed that COVID-19 case counts were spiking in border states due to migrants spreading the virus, Carlson commented, "Public health doesn't apply when we're changing the demographic mix to favor the Democratic Party."

April 30: Carlson accused Democrats of "an attack on our democracy" because "they only care about stacking the electorate." He added: "They want to change who votes, so they win. They're diluting the votes of Americans, of all backgrounds, and that is an attack on democracy, period."

April 29: Carlson described the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as "an assault on democracy, a permanent one." The law repealed the national origins quota system that "was designed to favor Western and Northern European countries and drastically limit admission of immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Southern and Eastern Europe," according to the Migration Policy Institute. Carlson explained: "That law completely changed the composition of America's voter rolls, purely to benefit the Democratic Party." (In fact, the bill passed by huge bipartisan margins, and Republican presidential nominees won five of the next six elections.)

April 21: After Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) responded to Rep. Scott Perry's (R-PA) invocation of the "great replacement" theory by tweeting, "with every passing year, there will be more people who look like me in the US," Carlson glossed Lieu's remarks as follows: "In other words, you're being replaced, and there's nothing you can do about it. So, shut up."

April 15: Carlson claimed that Democrats "are changing everything, whether we like it or not," including "a brand-new national population." He called that a "revolution" reminiscent of how "Germany got Hitler."

April 12: The day after Murdoch sent his letter claiming that Carlson had actually repudiated "replacement" theory, Carlson said on his program that "the secret to the entire immigration debate" is that "demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party's political ambitions. In order to win and maintain power, Democrats plan to change the population of the country." He added, "All across the country, we have seen huge changes in election outcomes caused by demographic change."

Over the same period, Carlson has also claimed that immigration "makes the country more volatile," that migration across the U.S.-Mexico border should trigger "a real insurrection," and that Democrats who supposedly support open borders "hate" America" and are "trying to destroy it."

Incendiary, xenophobic rhetoric like Carlson's can have dire consequences. Murdoch's statement came in response to a letter from the Anti-Defamation League's Jonathan Greenblatt, who noted that the theory Carlson espoused on April 8 is linked to "explosive hate crimes, most notably the hate-motivated mass shooting attacks in Pittsburgh, Poway and El Paso, as well as in Christchurch, New Zealand."

Indeed, those terrorist attacks came after Carlson and others at Fox embraced the same theory in 2018 and 2019.

Lachlan Murdoch Endorses Carlson's Lies About Vaccine 'Deaths'

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch has publicly endorsed a debunked conspiracy theory spread by Fox News prime time host Tucker Carlson, who has claimed that thousands of people died in connection with the COVID-19 vaccines.

Carlson has increasingly become the network's top personality on TV and to push its online content, and he has used to platform to undermine the public vaccination campaign ever since last year. Other network figures have gotten their shots — most notably Fox News founder and Lachlan's father Rupert Murdoch — while the network has continually taken pandemic health measures more seriously for itselfthan for its audiences. (Carlson has still not disclosed whether he has been vaccinated.)

For this latest example, Carlson has relied on a public system known as VAERS, or the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, to which anybody can submit a report of health events. False claims surrounding the unverified database had been spreading for months online, from the likes of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert Kennedy Jr., frequent Fox News guest Alex Berenson, and prominent influencers in the far-right QAnon movement.

However, the VAERS system does not include any key context of what other factors might have contributed to an individual's negative health events, and because it is publicly sourced it can include many errors. (For example, a report that a 2-year-old died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine during clinical trials has been removed from the VAERS system for being "completely made up" — as vaccine trials for young children had not even begun yet when the report was filed.)

But when these problems were widely pointed out, Carlson only dug in further, asking, "What exactly are the real numbers? How much harm have the COVID vaccines caused?"

In an interview with Business Insider, Lachlan Murdoch stood by Carlson's falsehoods:

Lachlan called Carlson and some of his viewpoints, which he says caters to what many Americans are quietly thinking, "brave." And when Carlson questioned the efficacy of vaccines for COVID-19 and cited the number of people who died after taking the vaccine, Lachlan came to his defense again.
"He basically just went into the CDC data, right?" Lachlan said. "So there's nothing the CDC itself isn't saying."

Business Insider noted that "Factcheck.org denounced Carlson's statement, explaining that anyone can submit a report of an adverse side effect following vaccination, without verification or proof that it was caused by the vaccine."

FactCheck.org listed some examples, as well:

Another report included in Carlson's count was for a woman who was vaccinated on Jan. 9, had a car accident two weeks later, and died with a brain hemorrhage nine days after that.
Another report was for a 17-year-old who killed himself with a gun eight days after he was vaccinated.
This doesn't mean that no deaths could be related to the vaccines. But these examples make it clear that "VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine," as the Department of Health and Human Services explains.

And while Lachlan Murdoch characterizes the VAERS reports as "CDC data," a disclaimer on the VAERS site actually makes clear: "The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable" — which, come to think of it, would be a better slogan for Fox News.