On Fox News, Vaccination Pleas Intensify, but Skepticism Persists

Amid mixed messages on the channel, the hosts Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy encourage viewers to get Covid-19 shots as the Delta variant spreads.

By Michael M. Grynbaum, Tiffany Hsu and Zolan Kanno-Youngs

The morning anchor’s plea was urgent and framed in the starkest of terms: Get the Covid-19 vaccine, or you could die. “It will save your life,” he said on Tuesday, echoing a now-common refrain in the news media as the highly contagious Delta variant drives a rise in coronavirus infections.

But the messenger in this case was Steve Doocy, the conservative co-host of “Fox & Friends,” and the venue was Fox News, the Rupert Murdoch-owned network whose stars have often relayed the view that vaccines can be dangerous and Americans are justified in refusing them.

Mr. Doocy was not the only big Fox News personality to intensify his warnings about the coronavirus this week. Sean Hannity urged viewers on Monday to “please take Covid seriously — I can’t say it enough.” He added: “I believe in the science of vaccination.”

Fox News has not changed overnight. When Mr. Doocy made similar remarks on Monday, his co-host Brian Kilmeade issued a counterpoint, telling viewers to “make your own decision” and adding, “We are not doctors.” Laura Ingraham, whose 10 p.m. show follows Mr. Hannity, accused Democrats on Monday of trying to “de-platform, cancel, defame or eliminate inconvenient opinions regarding their Covid response.”

Still, the comments from Mr. Hannity and Mr. Doocy turned some heads.

Fox News has faced heavy criticism in recent days over its vaccine coverage, including a denunciation on the Senate floor and accusations of hypocrisy after a memo revealed that its own employees would be allowed to go maskless in the office if vaccinated. And with views on vaccines increasingly split along partisan lines, some leading Republicans have grown alarmed at the deadly toll of the virus in conservative states and districts.

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