In her column for the Daily Beast, author Molly Jong-Fast criticized media mogul Rupert Murdoch for standing by and letting Fox News hosts undercut efforts by the government to get all American's vaccinated against COVID-19 which has claimed over 536,000 lives in the U.S.
The columnist's problem isn't so much that Murdoch is giving his cable personalities free rein to push dubious conspiracy theories as much as it is that he is allowing it after being one of the earliest to get the vaccination -- back on December 18th.
As Jong-Fast points out, "Three months later, his network continues to push an anti-vaxxer narrative."
Host Tucker Carlson has already been under fire for casting doubts about the vaccines, with the Washington Post's Aaron Blake saying the cable host is playing a "dangerous game," and writing, "Nobody is disputing that questions should be asked. But vaccines present a special case for the media. That's because for them to work properly and kill off disease, large swaths of the population need to take them. This requires an extra degree of care in reporting on them because misinformation and disinformation could have a disproportionately negative impact. Lives are literally on the line."
Jong-Fast agreed and took Murdoch to task for irresponsibly not stepping in a making his hosts report carefully and accurately. and used host Tucker Carlson as a prime example.
Carlson at one time urged viewers to get vaccinated but now has had a change of heart since President Joe Biden is getting credit for the mass vaccination efforts undertaken in his first fifty days since replacing Donald Trump.
"On Monday night, Tucker Carlson asked why he isn't allowed to ask questions about the vaccine. 'Don't kick people off social media for asking them. Answer the questions,' he told his vast viewership. 'It turns out there are things we don't know about the effects of this vaccine—and all vaccines by the way. It's always a trade-off.'" she wrote before adding a personal note and writing, "As someone fully vaccinated by Pfizer, I am happy to report this is bullshit. I got the vaccine; the trade-off for safety for myself and others and the mental security that comes with that was mild arm pain."
According to the columnist, Carlson is delegating spreading anti-vaxx misinformation by providing a platform to former New York Times writer Alex Berenson who has no medical background to spout his theories.
"Tucker has also platformed and elevated Berenson, a sort of COVID hobbyist with no medical degrees most famous for telling Sean Hannity (noticing a pattern here?) last April that 'kids, children, almost anybody under 30 is at no risk to this—no serious risk from this virus.'" she wrote before adding, "This turned out to be terribly wrong. While most people who died of the virus were older than 65, there were certainly thousands of young Americans who died of COVID according to the CDC."
Making her case against the conservative network, Jong-Fast wrote, "Here's the problem with all this anti-vaccine nonsense: According to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll, '42% of Republicans say they probably or definitely will not get the shot,' compared to just 17 percent of Democrats."
"I understand that ill-informed anti-vaxxers are part of Fox's core audience of conservative conspiracists but I'm not sure endangering core viewers who skew much older is such a good business plan. Some of them have been literally dying to own the libs. It's not what Rupert Murdoch is doing, but it's what his network is suggesting that you do," she concluded.
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