It's no secret that Fox News is leading a War on Health: they've attacked healthy school meals, McDonald's inclusion of fruit in Happy Meals, and promoting exercise for kids. Recently, they also promoted the unhealthy habit of eating too much salt, ignoring experts' estimates that halving Americans' salt intake could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
Today, the network that has relentlessly beaten drums to protect French fries helped hype a cosmetic surgical procedure that can have serious side effects: Botox injections. The segment came during an interview with actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, who openly identified herself as a Botox spokesperson:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Can we ask you about your beauty secret?
THORNE-SMITH: Yes, you may.
DOOCY: What is it?
THORNE-SMITH: What is it? Well, I'm actually here today -- is that what you're segueing into?
DOOCY: Good one.
THORNE-SMITH: I'm here today because Healthy Woman did a survey and they found that women have a lot of questions about Botox cosmetic.
DOOCY: They do.
THORNE-SMITH: And the people at Botox asked if I would speak about my experience, and I said I would be happy to.
DOOCY: Because you have used it for ten years, as I understand.
THORNE-SMITH: I have used it for ten years.
DOOCY: Weren't you kind of freaked out, because every once in a while you hear a story about someone whose face gets stuck?
THORNE-SMITH: (Laughing) Well, I made sure when I went to talk to my doctor, I said, I want to look very natural, which I do. People say, you know, they say, have you lied about it or something? I said no, no one's asked me. Because I think I look natural. I've looked natural the whole time. And my message is, really, it's important to go talk to someone who knows what they're doing and knows what you want. So you can say specifically, look, I still want to have expression. I still want to be able to move my face. I just want to soften the wrinkles that bother me.
But Fox didn't let Thorne-Smith do the hyping all by herself. The co-hosts encouraged her to explain why viewers should consider getting Botox.
From the broadcast:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): So people at home, they're saying, oh, Courtney is so beautiful anyway. You know, how will this help me?
THORNE-SMITH: Well, I mean, it's up to individual women. It's an individual choice. If it's something you're curious about, go talk to your doctor about it. I just think that, you know, there has been such a taboo, because people have used too much or people think they look strange and I'm just saying, you don't have to. Go talk to your doctor about your specific fears and your desires and if you want to try it, try it.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Does it hurt?
THORNE-SMITH: Does it hurt like any injection would hurt? Yeah. I mean, people have varying degrees, but sure, it hurts for a second.
DOOCY: The price of beauty.
THORNE-SMITH: The price of beauty. It's a small price to pay.
Text aired during the segment was even more explicit:
While the co-hosts and Thorne-Smith alluded to the fact that some people have "concerns" about Botox, they didn't go into detail about why that might be.
One reason: in 2009, the FDA began requiring Botox and other antiwrinkle drugs to carry a warning label advising users that "the material has the potential to spread from the injection site to distant parts of the body -- with the risk of serious difficulties, like problems with swallowing or breathing," as The New York Times reported. The Times article said the warning was put in place after a public advocacy group said "the F.D.A. had received reports of 180 serious health problems and 16 deaths connected to the injections," as well as "225 reports of [other] complications."
It's true that these complications are rare, given that 11 million people have received injections, according to the Botox website. And yet, Fox News, which has attacked encouraging children to eat vegetables and do exercise, failed to really acknowledge those complications. Where do Fox's priorities lie, exactly?