Fox News is disingenuously pushing a talking point from former President Donald Trump, claiming that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made vaccines political, causing people to refuse taking the COVID-19 vaccines — even as Fox News itself has celebrated people who refuse to take them.
An article on the Fox News website this morning quoted Trump as saying, “Of course, they famously said, if Trump came up with it, I’ll never take it.” The article failed to explain, of course, that the comment is wildly out of context.
As PolitiFact has previously explained in a piece titled “Biden, Harris distrusted Trump with COVID-19 vaccines, not the vaccines themselves,” Trump was urging “as early as March 2020” for the “researchers working on the vaccine ‘speed it up.’” Meanwhile scientists “were urging more caution on the timeline and said they were emphasizing safety and effectiveness over speed.” In that context, Biden and Harris had commented on the possibility that Trump might push for a vaccine to be announced before the election regardless of whether it was actually ready.
Biden said in September 2020, for example: “I get asked the question: ‘If the president announced tomorrow we have a vaccine, would you take it?’ Only if it was completely transparent, that other experts in the country could look at it, only if we knew all of what went into it. Because so far, nothing he’s told us has been true.”
And in October, Harris said: “If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”
Just recently, by contrast, Fox News extensively propagandized against the Food and Drug Administration’s August 23 full approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, with Fox hosts insinuating that approval was the product of political influence by the Biden administration — instead of the practical scientific knowledge that has come from the vaccine already being widely tested and distributed.
But on the Monday morning edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy sought to flip the conversation back to blaming Biden and Harris for vaccine refusal, rather than the network’s own continually worsening coverage of vaccine outreach efforts, which might even be causing vaccination rates to stay down among its viewers.
“Because there's hesitancy regarding the vaccine, you got to remember — remember it was a year ago at this time, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were trying to unseat Mike Pence and Donald Trump,” Doocy said. “And they made it political, because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both said, in one way or — one fashion or another, ‘You know, I don't think I trust a vaccine from the Trump administration.’”
“Yeah,” replied guest co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy.
“Now, fast-forward a year from now should we be surprised?” Doocy added. “You can be disheartened that it has become political, but there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy, unfortunately.”
But if Doocy were really so “disheartened that it has become political,” he should have started by addressing the two people sitting next to him as co-hosts.
For example, Rachel Campos-Duffy, who voiced her agreement with Doocy’s point, bemoaned last week about public health measures such as vaccine and testing requirements: “I've just been really surprised throughout this pandemic of how compliant Americans have been, especially young people. How do we fight back?” (Meanwhile, Fox News has already implemented a policy for months in which employees must either be vaccinated or undergo daily health screenings — with which Campos-Duffy has presumably been “compliant.”)
And earlier in the same segment, Campos-Duffy played back a clip of an interview she had done earlier in the show with Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, a vocal anti-vaxxer who has baselessly speculated that the vaccines had killed 1.2 million people and has teamed up with anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert Kennedy Jr. And shortly after Doocy’s comment, Campos-Duffy further added that vaccine mandates were “the beginning of the communist-style social credit system.”
Doocy’s colleague Brian Kilmeade has personally questioned the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, speculating that it was a political effort to distract from the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan: “They make people doubt because they look at this timing and they say wait a second, does it really get full FDA approval? Do we really need a booster shot? What are we worried about — mild cold symptoms for the vaccinated?”