The network, which the CEO of Fox Corp. Lachlan Murdoch has called President Joe Biden’s “loyal opposition” to the White House, has been a hub for vaccine reluctance and outright hostility. As the pandemic continued and vaccinations against Covid-19 slowed, vaccine resistance among Republicans – the Fox News audience base – has been a recurring theme, bringing in many observers peering into Fox’s cover.
Due to its popularity among Republicans, the White House has attempted to raise awareness on Fox News in recent months, although it is unclear how successful the administration has been. A source close to the talks told CNN that there have been regular conversations between the White House and Fox News regarding network coverage of the pandemic and vaccines.
The person who confirmed the conversations warned that there had not been a single conversation that played a role in Fox’s coverage of Covid-19.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has confirmed that the White House has had conversations with Fox News about covering the pandemic.
“We have been in contact with all the networks and many media on the coverage of Covid-19 to make sure people have accurate information, to voice their concerns when we have it,” Psaki said.
Regarding specifically Murdoch’s highly regarded network, Psaki said the White House understands “the importance of reaching the Fox News audience about Covid-19 vaccines and their benefits, and as we are with all of you here. today we are of course in contact. “
The “regular contact” is notable when it involves Fox News, given the network’s opposition stance and its history of commenting on the pandemic.
A White House official initially confirmed CNN’s report Tuesday morning that contacts between the network and the White House had taken place at a “high level,” but the White House and Fox News subsequently disputed that the conversations were regularly at a high level.
Fox News said in a statement that the network had a briefing with the White House in May on vaccination rates and that “staff in our DC office are in regular contact … on various issues.”
A White House official said he held a specific Fox News briefing between producers and White House officials to discuss Covid-19 vaccine coverage. White House officials believe Fox’s daytime programming has changed tone, but noted that they believe the network can do more to reach its prime-time audience.
While some hosts talked about the benefits of vaccines and shared their own vaccination experiences, many others trafficked anti-vaccination rhetoric and encouraged guests to do the same.
Tucker Carlson, the network’s most popular personality, aired dozens of segments questioning the government’s vaccination effort. Some of his monologues specifically questioned the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Other right-wing networks and websites have done the same, but Fox has the largest audience of Republican voters.
Fox’s coverage has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks. On Monday, media critics noticed that several segments of Fox were directing viewers to the government website, Vaccines.gov, with an on-screen banner, which it has not done for weeks.
And Sean Hannity, who previously downplayed the importance of the pandemic but has consistently been in favor of vaccines, said Monday evening: “I can’t say it enough. Enough people are dead. We don’t need to anymore. dead. Searching like crazy. Talk to your doctor, doctors, healthcare professionals you trust based on your unique medical history. … take it seriously. “
As vaccinations have declined in recent months, the White House has made several attempts to reach those who had not yet been vaccinated, as mild breakthrough cases become more common. On average, 282,070 people are fully vaccinated each day, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s about the same as last week, but it’s about a third of the rate a month ago, when more than 858,000 people were fully immunized each day.
US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy on Thursday warned that health disinformation was “a serious threat to public health,” and the administration directly called on social media giant Facebook for not doing enough to stop the spread of false information on its platform.
This story has been updated with additional commentary from the White House.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.