Fox news-side segment tries to answer anti-vaccine conspiracy theories — which are being pushed by Fox News

A segment on Fox News’ purported “straight news” program this morning illustrated the absolute folly of the network’s double talk on vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic, when the anchors and a pro-vaccine guest set about answering a series of potential objections that people might have toward vaccination — without acknowledging that those false claims are in fact being pushed relentlessly by the network itself.

On Monday’s edition of America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer & Dana Perino, the co-anchors spoke with retired Adm. Brett Giroir, former assistant health secretary and the COVID-19 testing czar under former President Donald Trump. Giroir touted the formal approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration as “a very big moment in Operation Warp Speed history and the history of our vaccines, our fight against the pandemic,” and described what the approval process meant in comparison to the earlier emergency use authorization. The discussion soon shifted to the upcoming rounds of vaccine booster shots, with Giroir explaining that this was a normal step in building longer-term immunity from the initial shots.

“A booster shot, just like all your typical vaccines, you know, we give them very many months apart, we don't give them all in one little sequence,” Giroir said. “So a booster shot for COVID would be very similar to booster shots we get for other vaccines, and really has the potential to give many, many years of immunity.”

Co-anchor Dana Perino asked Giroir: “Some have suggested that, you know, they like to go after Big Pharma, complain about Big Pharma and all the profits, and that this is suggesting a booster is just a way for them to make more money. How would you reply to that?”

“The doses are $20 a dose, this is not very expensive,” Giroir responded. “And the science clearly says this is not a pharma scheme, this is absolutely necessary to protect Americans.”

Co-anchor Bill Hemmer then asked: “You’re going to have some people who are saying, ‘You know, man, you told me to get the vaccine, I got the vaccine. Now I’ve got to go back again?’ From a medical standpoint, from a messaging standpoint, how do you communicate that to people — that this is the next step that you need to do, to keep you and your family safe?”

Giroir then reiterated that it was really the normal thing to get vaccines and booster shots spaced out over time, and also explained how early two-shot regimens for the COVID vaccines had been a necessary exception, with only a temporary immune response: “What we did here in the pandemic is we got everybody vaccinated to squelch the storm — the fire — but now we’re looking for that long-lasting immunity, and the boost will do that.”

Video file

Citation From the August 23, 2021, edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer & Dana Perino

A brief review of Fox’s prime-time content, however, shows examples of all the conspiracy theories that Perino, Hemmer, and Giroir were now attempting to rebut.

  • On the August 17 edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host and prolific anti-vaxxer Will Cain claimed that “Big Pharma isn't following science, it's following the money and making an absolute killing off these vaccines.” He then asked Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), “Am I being cynical, this idea that boosters and the cycle of a third and fourth shot, this is driven more by the profit margins than the public health needs?” Donalds agreed.
  • On the August 18 edition of The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham ridiculed the prospect of “these never-ending booster shots,” and spoke with guest Dr. Byram Bridle, a viral immunologist at Canada’s Ontario Veterinary College who has previously pushed the debunked claim that the vaccines are a “toxin.” Bridle then claimed: “I'll tell you, a vaccine where the immunity wanes after six months, that is a very poor quality vaccine. This is not an ideal product.”
  • On the August 19 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host used the coming booster shots as an angle to attack President Joe Biden’s vaccination campaign: “So Joe Biden just announced that every American who has been, quote, ‘fully vaccinated,’ should take a booster shot starting next month. Well, that's kind of strange. We were told the vaccine would keep you from getting COVID, and now all around us, we see people who are fully vaccinated getting COVID.” (Carlson and his frequent guest Alex Berenson, who claimed that the vaccines were “failing,” also omitted the key context that “breakthrough” infections among the vaccinated have tended to be less severe.)

Ingraham had also been pushing the conspiracy theory that the original vaccine rollout was “about pushing more vaccines, like more booster shots even after you get the vaccines” — all the way back in February.