MICHELANGELO SIGNORILE (HOST): Matt Gertz is senior fellow at Media Matters for America, and he joins me to talk about how Fox News has been treating COVID-19 these days and particularly the announcement that Pfizer now has full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Matt Gertz, welcome back to the program.
MATT GERTZ: Good afternoon. Thanks for having me.
SIGNORILE: So the FDA granted full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, paved the way for companies to feel more comfortable in enforcing mandates. There were some people who said they were waiting for that to happen before they got it, and it was, obviously, a big story, but you write about how Fox News didn't treat it about that way.
GERTZ: Yeah, I think that's right. Fox News gave this story a lot less coverage than CNN or MSNBC did. There were entire hours of programming where they didn't mention it at all, including the 8:00 P.M. hour with Tucker Carlson, the most watched hour on that network.
And in general, they sort of buried segments on this late in the hours of their broadcast rather than putting it front and center.
You know, you can tell when Fox News wants its viewers to hear a story. They bombard their audience with constant segments about whatever it is.
This could be anything from Benghazi, to the migrant invasion that is of immigrants coming to your house to hurt you, or whatever the story of -- that they want to push is, they give it a lot of coverage. And this one they really didn't. And in fact, the coverage they did end up giving once the evening hosts came on was pretty negative.
Their take on this is, you know, the full approval that the Pfizer vaccine is received doesn't provide more evidence that these are effective and safe shots that their viewers should get.
Instead, it's the first step towards a punishment, when vaccine mandates come down and people are forced to put this life saving medication -- life-saving medication -- into their veins.
SIGNORILE: And you write about some of those hosts. Jesse Watters has been spreading fear and misinformation about the vaccine and vaccine approval. He called it bad news, opening the door to the mandates and he interviewed Dana Loesch about "vaccine bullies." Talk about that.
GERTZ: Yeah, I mean, this is the sort of thing we've been hearing from Fox News for quite some time.
Well, what the network will often do is not explicitly say "You shouldn't get a shot," what they'll do is they'll give permission slips to their viewers, say that they may have perfectly good reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated.
And in this case, you had Jesse Watters saying that, you know, this was bad news because it was opening the door for, you guessed it, more mandates. And then he has Dana Loesch coming on saying that this is just another way that the vaccine bullies are trying to smear people who have questions as being anti-vax and that's ridiculous.
There was more of this throughout the rest of the night. You had Sean Hannity similarly saying that this is just going to lead to mandating of employers to force people to take the vaccines. Laura Ingraham was even more forceful around this, she says this was -- President Biden is using this as a justification to take away your rights and then to the doctor that she had on her show suggested that maybe this was pushed through a little too fast, and you can't trust it.
SIGNORILE: Wow. Wow.
GERTZ: You know, this is sadly the sort of thing that we've been getting from Fox News all year long. They have a rare opportunity to keep their viewers from dying and they just refuse to take it.