Fox News host praises organizer of anti-vaccine protest that stormed Barclays Center — despite the network’s own COVID-19 policies

Brian Kilmeade tells rally organizer: “Appreciate what you’re doing”

After an anti-vaccine mob attempted to storm into the Barclays Center basketball arena in New York over the weekend in support of benched Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving for his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccines, Fox News gave the story positive coverage Monday morning — despite the obvious fact that such militant defiance of pandemic health measures would not be welcomed within Fox’s own walls.

“There's so many great people who feel the same way about the vaccine, on all different education, all different backgrounds; they just are not being listened to,” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade told rally organizer John Matland. “John, thanks for standing up, appreciate what you're doing.”

Fox News has for months levied outlandish attacks against vaccine mandates, with the network’s personalities and guests suggesting vaccine mandates and testing requirements for the unvaccinated are akin to Jim Crow laws, apartheid, eugenics, and forced sterilization and are the products of “small-minded control freaks.” 

At the same time, however, Fox News has implemented for itself a stringent program of vaccination and testing requirements: All employees are required to report their vaccination status, with those who are not vaccinated being required to get tested every day. (Reportedly, over 90% of Fox News’ full-time employees are vaccinated.) In addition, masks are still required in close quarters such as control rooms, regardless of vaccination status.

Video file

Citation From the October 25, 2021, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

Kilmeade also has a long history of comparing any protesters he doesn’t like to terrorists, while he has also supported far-right militants -- though he did add later in Monday’s program that the crowd in Brooklyn “got a little overzealous and tried to storm the gates, which I'm not in support of.”

Fox News commentators have also celebrated vaccine refusers as culture war heroes, while glorifying people who quit their jobs rather than follow vaccine mandates — though they do not appear to be in any rush to quit their own jobs.

On a side note, Matland said that he had teamed up with Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, led by Walter “Hawk” Newsome. Fox News has built up Newsome’s profile in the past, but he has in fact been denounced by Black Lives Matter Global Network for raising money off the group’s name while pushing a more provocative and militant message. Right-wing voices such as Fox News and former President Donald Trump then exploited Newsome’s profile in order to demonize the wider BLM movement.