JOE MADISON (HOST): Angelo Carusone, Media Matters, CEO of that organization. We depend on it a lot. I believe he is with us and thank you so much, Angelo, for coming back here on the Madison Show. Can you, let's talk about this report this week about how Fox News has undermined the COVID vaccine every day for the last six months. What did you, what did you find out? What did Media Matters find out?
ANGELO CARUSONE (PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA): Well, one of the things that we did over the summer — and thanks for having me, it's always nice to be on — but so one of things we did over the summer was we looked at about six weeks of coverage and we looked at every segment and then we figured out, OK, how much of their coverage is, you know, anti-vaccine? Is it pushing vaccine misinformation? Is it telling people not to get the vaccine? And at the time, we found that there was 60%, 60% of their segments, you know, were pushing for, you know, against the vaccine.
We did a larger study just this week, and that's the one you referenced, and we looked at the last six months of coverage. And instead of just looking at the segments we said, let's just look at it at the whole day. How many days out of the last six months did Fox News run, you know, some effort telling people not to get the vaccine or warning that it was — that the vaccine had side effects that were lethal or had other harmful side effects or just discouraged it. And we found that of the last six months, the last 183 days, on 181 of them, all but two, did Fox News basically tell people not to get vaccinated.
MADISON: Wow. Wow.
CARUSONE: And I think that the part that's significant about it, because I think a lot of times, you know, anti-vax is a quick way to point out what they're doing, but in a way it's a lot worse than that, because they're not just discouraging people not to get vaccinated. What they're really doing is encouraging people to break all public health measures. So they're not just pushing against the vaccine, they're simultaneously telling people that any of the rules around masks or social distancing are in some way an effort to control you. They're downplaying the virus itself, so they're saying, “Look, you don't have to worry about the virus because there are all kinds of other treatments that are easily going to make it, you know, go away, you don't worry about it.”
So, you know, just this week, too, they were telling people, encouraging people, to go — unvaccinated people, by the way — to go to restaurants because there was discussion in some counties that they were going to start imposing stricter vaccine mandates and they were saying, you know, if you're unvaccinated, you should get yourself into a restaurant right away. Go to as many as you possibly can.
CARUSONE: And when we think about what they're putting, they're not just saying, don't get the vaccine, they're also encouraging people to do really dangerous things against all the, you know, the best practices of public health.
MADISON: Now, when we say Fox is doing this, is this across the board with their commentators and their hosts and their panels?
CARUSONE: Yes. You think a lot of times when you think about Fox and the assumption is that the worst parts of it will be like, you know, will be Tucker and, you know, their prime time. But this is fairly universal. In fact, if you break it down and you say, OK, well, where is most of this stuff coming from, it's almost even in that, you know, you say that the so-called “news side” is pushing anti-vax content just as much or almost as much as what Fox would say their opinion hosts are. So, for example, the thing I was just saying before about the encouraging people to go to restaurants, unvaccinated people, to go to restaurants right now, that wasn't on their prime-time program, that wasn't Hannity or Ingraham, that was during their, what Fox News describes as their news programming telling people to do that.