Fox News host Pete Hegseth: I got COVID last year “because we were doing events at diners, talking to voters”

Hegseth has downplayed COVID-19 and criticized pandemic safety measures

During the 2020 election, Fox News host Pete Hegseth frequently went on the road to diners and made a show of talking closely and maskless to voters. Hegseth, who has repeatedly downplayed COVID-19 and pandemic safety measures, recently said in a speech that he got COVID-19 after doing those interviews. 

Hegseth is a Fox & Friends Weekend co-host and Republican Party fundraiser. He is hosting Fox Nation’s “Patriot Awards 2021” tonight in Florida. Attendees must present a vaccine card or a negative COVID-19 test for entrance to the event. Hegseth and numerous other Fox News personalities participating in the event have criticized vaccine and testing requirements. 

Hegseth has also minimized COVID-19. On March 8, 2020, Hegseth said: “I feel like the more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about.” On May 7, 2020, he claimed that “herd immunity is our friend. Healthy people getting out there, they're going to have to have some courage.” 

During the 2020 campaign, Hegseth visited restaurants across the country to talk to voters about the election. During those interviews, he spurned safety precautions. 

Sometime around the November 2020 election, Hegseth got COVID-19 after doing his in-person segments. (He subsequently broadcast from home). Hegseth made the disclosure during a speech at a November 6 veterans event at Colts Neck Community Church in New Jersey. During his introduction, Hegseth mentioned that he was supposed to do a similar speaking engagement last November, but “I was on the road for Fox and Friends, where because we were doing events at diners, talking to voters, I got COVID.” From the speech, which was recorded by TAPinto Holmdel & Colts Neck: 

PETE HEGSETH (FOX NEWS HOST): I can't help but reflect tonight just for a moment on a year ago tonight, when we held this very same event. It was — what was it, November, you know, 7, 8, whatever, 9, there had just been a Tuesday before that — and I was on the road for Fox and Friends, where because we were doing events at diners, talking to voters, I got COVID. And so, I said, I called up Pastor Chris [Durkin], and I said, “Pastor, I really want to be there for the event, but I don't know how I'm going to make it. I can't go.” And I said, I think maybe he said, “Maybe we could still make it work.” And so my wife and I drove up around the back in our car and we slung a microphone through the window shield and turned on our lights and spoke in our car last year looking into the tent. I don't know how many of you were here, the few and the proud, but I said, “You know, that's not going to cut it. We've got to do it one more time for real with people.” So I'm so very grateful to be here. 

On Sunday, as the Twitter account Bad Fox Graphics noted, Hegseth and co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy had the following exchange: 

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): There was an outside group, a legal, a law firm that submitted a FOIA, a Freedom of Information Act, to the CDC. And they asked, of people who have natural immunity, meaning they had COVID, how much, what’s your data on whether they transmit the virus or not? So we know they’re looking at people that have the vaccine, whether they transmit. What about unvaccinated but have had COVID -- 

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (CO-HOST): People like you and me. 

HEGSETH: And the CDC wrote back and said we have zero information on that. 

Fox News requires employees to submit a record of their vaccination or get tested daily -- a requirement even stricter than the Biden administration’s rule for businesses with more than 100 employees. 

Hegseth has continued criticizing pandemic safety measures and doing his diner visits in 2021.