Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp mogul behind The SUn and The Times, as well as Fox News, received the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, even as hosts on his US network stoke fears about it and spread vaccine misinformation.
Murdoch, 89, received the coronavirus vaccine on Friday in the UK, where people over 80 years of age are being prioritised for the vaccine.
“I would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” he said in a statement from a representative for News Corp, of which he is chairman. “I strongly encourage people around the world to get the vaccine as it becomes available.”
Murdoch may be talking up the vaccine now, but it’s a different story on Fox News in the US, which Murdoch founded and currently oversees as the Fox Corporation chairman.
“Suddenly the Covid vaccine is on the morning shows, touted on celebrity Twitter accounts, and the news about it is uniformly glowing,” Carlson said before sarcastically adding, “this stuff is just great, lot of famous people say so.”
He went on to say the vaccine’s “marketing campaign” seems “a bit much, it feels false, because it is; it’s too slick.” He also warned his viewers that vaccine proponents would threaten skeptics like him “unless we take it.” He warned that two Alaska health care workers had an allergic reaction to the vaccine, the first doses of which have already been given to 2.9 million people across the US.
Carlson is a huge moneymaker for Fox News and, in turn, for Murdoch. Earlier this year, he became the most-watched on-air personality in cable news history, with an average 4.33 million viewers every night
Laura Ingraham, another one of Fox News’ most well-known hosts, is also spreading vaccine misinformation. Earlier this week, she posited on her show that people in North and South Dakota don’t need to get the Covid-19 vaccine because they’re nearing herd immunity status, a claim that is dangerous and untrue.
“People want to get vaccinated, they want to get vaccinated, but in that case it wouldn’t be necessary,” she said of the Dakotas.
The doctors she had on air to lend credence to her false claim have both been called out for spreading misinformation about the pandemic. Dr Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist, has argued that “masks do not work” and “social distancing doesn’t work,” citing a study that the authors say he took out of context. The other, cancer researcher Dr Harvey Risch, is one of the lone medical professionals pushing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease, despite no evidence to back up his claims and the serious risk the drug poses for patients.
Ingraham has also brought quack doctors on to her radio show to warn Americans that they’re “becoming guinea pigs in a huge gene experiment conducted on humans” by receiving the vaccine, adding that those who take it are “going to go to your doom.”
As false as they are, anti-vaccine talking points are an easy fit with Murdoch’s Fox News audience. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll in May, half of all Americans who name Fox News as their primary television news source believe the conspiracy theory that tech billionaire Bill Gates is scheming to use Covid-19 vaccinations as a method of implanting microchips in people so that he can track their every movement.