Fox News’ Laura Ingraham lavished praise on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccination advocacy during a lengthy interview last week on her podcast. She also listened raptly as he accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of conspiring with the pharmaceutical industry to hide both purported dangers posed by coronavirus vaccines and the supposed link between childhood vaccinations and a host of medical conditions including autism.
Ingraham’s past commentary has primed her audience to believe negative claims about Fauci, no matter how unhinged. Ingraham appears to be interested in building a left-right alliance against vaccination, as the recorded U.S. death toll from COVID-19 approaches 500,000.
“We just loved having you on, and it’s refreshing to speak with you, and you’re incredibly smart,” Ingraham said at the conclusion of their February 4 discussion, immediately after allowing him to extensively promote his anti-vax podcast and website. “And it shows you where, politically we might be different on a whole host of issues, but on an issue so important and complex such as this, there’s a lot of common ground, and I think it’s fascinating.”
“I think that’s a big threat to Big Science, as we call them too, is when conservatives and liberals come together and say, ‘Wait a second, we’re being sold a bill of goods here on this stuff,’” she added.
Ingraham and her Fox colleagues have spent the last year downplaying the danger posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and denouncing various efforts to slow its spread, with deadly results. In recent weeks, they’ve turned their attention to the vaccines against the virus.
While experts say these vaccines are safe and phenomenally effective, Republicans are significantly less likely to say they want to be vaccinated, in part because they have been bombarded by misinformation about the drugs. Fox hosts are trying to rebuild their crumbling ratings by pandering to that anti-vax community, rather than working to convince their audience to get vaccinated.
When Ingraham promoted her Kennedy interview on Twitter Saturday, critics highlighted his role as one of the nation’s foremost proponents of vaccine misinformation. But Ingraham’s tweet did not include audio from the segment or indicate whether he had discussed vaccination on-air, instead featuring a quote from him attacking Fauci and noting that the interview is available only to Quake Media subscribers. (Ingraham’s tweets promoting other podcast interviews over the past week feature audio). The interview itself does not seem to have been previously reported in detail.
Kennedy Jr is a menace. https://t.co/qrIKui2EMx
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 6, 2021
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) February 8, 2021
Ingraham opened the segment by expressing outrage about comments Fauci made in late January about the possibility that children will be able to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the last spring or early summer, if ongoing trials are successful.
Experts say vaccinating children is an important part of ensuring herd immunity and stopping the spread of the virus. But Ingraham argued that this would be unnecessary as there is only an “infinitesimally small chance” of children dying from COVID-19, and she warned that “your kids” will need to take the vaccine “before being permitted to go back to school.”
Ingraham then introduced Kennedy, whom she suggested had been unfairly maligned for his anti-vaxx commentary.
“Of course, he has been all over this issue for so many years, of vaccinations and their safety or, in some cases, lack thereof, and for that he’s gotten an enormous amount of grief,” she said.
True to form, Kennedy claimed that vaccinating children was unnecessary and dangerous.
“You have to give 300,000 vaccines to prevent one death,” from the coronavirus, he claimed, adding that by vaccinating, “how many deaths are you going to cause in that cohort?” (No deaths have been directly attributed to the vaccine; anti-vaxxers have blamed the vaccine for causing the deaths of a small number of individuals who passed away from other causes after receiving a dose.)
He went on to allege that “there’s literally zero justification for doing this other than profits to the vaccine companies, which seems to be the principal preoccupation of Tony Fauci and the administration.”
Conversation then turned to some of Ingraham’s favorite coronavirus misinformation, like the purported ineffectiveness of masks and social distancing. But Kennedy inevitably returned to the vaccine topic.
“Tony Fauci arranged for all of these vaccines to get immunity from liability, so no matter how negligent that company is, no matter how toxic the ingredients, no matter reckless they are, no matter how grievous your injury or death, you cannot sue them,” Kennedy said. “He did that favor for Bill Gates and all of these guys.” Gates has been the target of a series of coronavirus conspiracy theories due to his global health care advocacy work.
“We are paying for the development, they are making the profits, and they have no downstream liabilities and no incentive to make those vaccines safe,” he added.
Ingraham responded to Kennedy’s accusations by highlighting how “nobody talks about” how “American corporations and global corporations” fund medical research.
Toward the end of the segment, Kennedy went on a five-minute rant about how Fauci is the “J. Edgar Hoover of public health,” a reference to the powerful founder of the FBI. According to Kennedy, for decades Fauci has conspired with the pharmaceutical industry to obscure the supposed connection between childhood vaccinations and autism and other health conditions.
Kennedy contrasted Fauci and his long tenure at the National Institutes of Health with people like Judy Mikovits, the discredited scientist who stars in the lie-filled coronavirus conspiracy theory film Plandemic, who he claimed are “immediately vomited out” for being “willing to stand up to Pharma.”
Kennedy blamed Fauci for failing to investigate why rates of autism, allergies, and autoimmune diseases increased over his tenure, insinuating that he was deliberately covering up the role child vaccinations had played. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have noted that “vaccines do not cause autism,” and studies have not established a link between childhood vaccinations and allergies or autoimmune diseases.
According to Kennedy, Fauci wields federal medical research funding to “control messaging” and “ruin the career of any scientist” looking into those issues. “If somebody at that institution tries to do a study that says, ‘We’re going to study whether vaccines are related to the explosion in allergic diseases,’ Fauci will go to them and say, ‘Shut that down or I will shut you off and destroy your medical school.”
“What he’s done is instead of doing basic science and saying, ‘Where are these diseases coming from,’ he has turned his agency into an incubator for the pharmaceutical industry,” Kennedy added.
Kennedy concluded that Fauci “is not a public health regulator. He is a very sinister guy who has turned this country over to Big Pharma.”
Ingraham responded to Kennedy's vaccine conspiracy theories by preemptively criticizing anyone who would try to “silence” him.
“I think that when you see the reaction to any, I would say, honest conversation about the science, what the science really is, the first instinct of the Fauci crowd is to brand you, and silence you, and try to -- have friends, in one way, shape, or form, deplatform you,” she said.
Fauci “doesn’t want to have a really honest conversation about this stuff. It’s just, he will decree what will be, and you will not question him,” Ingraham concluded. “And I think you hit the nail on the head.”