Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
In the last few months, Fox News' Laura Ingraham has repeatedly hosted Paul Alexander, former science adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump and key aide to Trump loyalist and former HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo. While working for Caputo at HHS, Alexander sought to politicize public health guidance from inside the government bureaucracy, seeking to alter reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which reflected poorly on the Trump administration.
Politico reported in September 2020 that Alexander "was effective at delaying the famed Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports and watering down guidance" from the CDC. (The reports are a key CDC communications product that provides updates on the state of the pandemic, among other things.) In one email reported by Politico, Alexander wrote, "Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected." This strategy is deadly flawed, to say the least.
The erroneous political hackery of Alexander makes him the ideal guest for Ingraham, Fox's worst COVID-19 misinformer. In fact, Alexander has pushed misinformation during every one of his seven appearances on The Ingraham Angle:
- On February 23, Alexander claimed Dr. Anthony Fauci "has shifted from becoming a scientists physician and more towards a political physician."
- On February 25, Alexander claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is "not entirely effective" and will not prevent "moderate to severe illness or even death." He also suggested that wearing a mask is "actually harmful."
- During the March 5 edition of The Ingraham Angle, Alexander said that mask mandates are "very ineffective."
- On March 12, Alexander claimed that kids "don't spread" COVID-19 to parents and teachers.
- During the April 1 edition of The Ingraham Angle, Alexander purported that vaccinating children is "incredibly dangerous."
- On April 22, Alexander said the CDC's guidance on mask-wearing "is about driving fear and obedience" and again claimed that masks are "ineffective."
- On May 4, Alexander appeared on The Ingraham Angle to cast doubt on the efficacy of the vaccine, describing it as "experimental" and "highly untested as to safety."
As far as medical expertise goes, Alexander and Ingraham are a perfect match: According to The Washington Post, Alexander, who is not a physician, was "an unpaid, part-time health professor" at a Canadian university prior to joining HHS, while Ingraham has a history of pushing misinformation about all aspects of the pandemic -- attacking masks, vaccines, and social distancing, pushing unproven therapeutics, undermining public health experts, platforming quacks, and promoting a so-called "herd immunity" strategy that would lead to millions of unnecessary deaths.
It's nearly impossible to picture someone with Alexander's disgraceful background of lying to the public about the pandemic appearing anywhere else on cable news, but that hasn't stopped Ingraham from inviting him seven times to spread COVID misinformation on Fox prime time.
Research contributions from Katherine Abughazaleh