“No more freedom for you”: Fox News panics over Biden’s proposed outreach to unvaccinated people
Fox News had a meltdown after the Biden administration announced new outreach efforts toward unvaccinated Americans, which include volunteers going “door to door” in communities with low vaccination rates to help people get “protected from the virus.” The network called the administration's plan to increase the vaccination rate “Orwellian” and an invasion of privacy.
During his July 6 remarks, President Joe Biden announced his administration’s renewed and targeted effort to increase the vaccination rate “in place of mass vaccination sites.” This announcement came amid reports that nearly all recent COVID-19 deaths have been among unvaccinated people and as the administration missed its July 4 goal of ensuring at least 70% Americans have received their first vaccine dose. The president said this hyperlocal focus will include people going “community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and, oftentimes, door to door -- literally knocking on doors -- to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”
Immediately, Fox expressed skepticism about the program, calling it “creepy” and insinuating that it is a violation of people’s privacy:
- Fox News host Tucker Carlson told the administration during the July 6 edition of his show to “stay the hell out of my house, for real.”
- During the July 7 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Pete Hegseth misleadingly said the White House doesn’t need to make this effort because Americans who have had COVID -19 now have “natural immunity.” Co-host Ainsley Earhardt added, “We as Americans can make our own choices for our own families, for our own bodies. … Do you want someone knocking at your door that you don’t know, that’s a stranger?”
- During the July 7 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson said it used to be “your choice” as to what medicine to take and if “you didn’t think you wanted it or needed it or it was good for you, you didn’t have to take it, because it was your body, your choice. Turns out that was a complete lie.”
- During the July 7 edition of Fox News’ Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham called the outreach “creepy stuff” and questioned whether these “government vaccine ambassadors” will ask questions about people’s vaccine status and take notes, and she asked “how will this information be used.”
During a July 8 CNN interview, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra responded to the criticism and said the government and the taxpayers have an interest in knowing who is and isn’t vaccinated: “It is our business to make sure Americans can prosper, freely associate, and knocking on the door has never been against the law. You don’t have to answer, but we hope you do so we can help dispel some of those rumors that you’ve heard and hopefully get you vaccinated.”
On Twitter, Becerra clarified that the government is not keeping a “database tracking who is vaccinated.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki also clarified that in most cases it’s not federal government employees going door to door, but rather volunteers, clergy members, and other “trusted voices in communities who are playing this role and door-knocking.”
These clarifications did little to quell the spiraling meltdown at Fox, whose hosts and contributors continued to criticize the outreach plan, calling it “Orwellian” and members of the administration “totalitarians”:
- During the July 8 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson said the Biden administration “is no longer accepting excuses” because if you don’t take the vaccine, “you’ll wind up on a government list.” After playing a clip of Becerra’s CNN interview, Carlson sarcastically summarized his comments: “We want to give people the freedom to choose, but unfortunately we can’t. So no more freedom for you.”
- During the July 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, guest co-host Will Cain called the outreach effort “a real pressure, a push, to say, ‘This is right for you. Have you done it? Have you injected this experimental-use vaccine into your arm because it’s right for everybody,’ is what they’re saying.”
- Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen called the outreach effort nonsensical and “Orwellian” during the July 9 edition of The Faulkner Focus. Thiessen went on to state, “Unvaccinated people pose a risk to themselves, but they don’t pose a risk to the rest of the country. If you’re vaccinated, you’re safe. … Leave them alone.
- Fox News’ Jesse Watters seemingly threatened anyone who might to his house, saying during the July 9 edition of The Five, “If someone comes on my property, not always a good result. And I’m a lightweight. Think about the people in Texas.”
- During the July 10 edition of his new show Unfiltered, Fox host Dan Bongino called members of the administration “totalitarians” and said, “They can’t seem to exist without an agenda of fear. Fear seems to be their coin of the realm. It’s the only way to get people to voluntarily give up their civil liberties.”
Fox host Kayleigh McEnany took the fearmongering a step further on the July 7 edition of Outnumbered and compared volunteers knocking on doors with vaccine information to federal agents going door to door collecting guns. “This is so onerous, so Orwellian, so over the top,” she said. “And we cannot allow the government to seize on a COVID-19 outbreak to take our freedoms in this manner.” A few days later, Fox host Jeanine Pirro picked up the same theme, theorizing that Biden has an “end game” in mind and that his “irrational belief he can control the Second Amendment, along with his belief he can go door to door with Democrats' intentional refusal to fight crime” is really about “confiscating your gun.”
Following the release of COVID-19 vaccines under the Biden administration and the White House’s push to protect as many Americans as possible, Fox News has been a cesspool of misinformation, pushing hesitancy and conspiracy theories that are detrimental to the safety of the country and will likely get people killed.