Ian Smith, a frequent guest on Fox News and co-owner of Atilis Gym in New Jersey, offered “free memberships to all who don’t get vaccinated” on Twitter earlier this week, in an apparent rebuttal to Krispy Kreme offering free donuts to all who *do* get the vaccine.
Smith and Atilis co-owner Frank Trumbetti have made a name for themselves on Fox News, as the network championed their refusal to comply with coronavirus health guidelines. A review by Media Matters finds that the two have appeared on Fox News and Fox Business at least 29 times during the pandemic, usually to complain about coronavirus health guidelines and to flaunt their refusal to follow them. Throughout the pandemic, personalities on the Fox networks have praised the two gym owners as “American heroes” for fighting the COVID guidelines.
Smith has posted conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on his Instagram and Trumbetti has pushed similar conspiracy theories on Fox News. During a August 13 interview, Trumbetti claimed that public health restrictions were actually a plot to “mandate a peak and a spike in COVID cases in the fall so they can shut everything down again.”
Fox’s adoration for these two was part of the network’s fawning coverage of protests against state and local stay-at-home orders last year. Fox News consistently pushed misinformation throughout the pandemic, and championing individuals like Trumbetti and Smith is just part of the reason that viewers of the network are already more hesitant to get vaccinated.