CNN anchor Dana Bash took a direct shot Sunday at rival Fox News in an interview with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, asking if the top-rated cable news channel was “killing people” with its commentary on the COVID-19 vaccination.
Ms. Bash noted that President Biden charged social-media platforms Friday with “killing people” by allowing the spread of vaccine misinformation, and then played clips from Fox’s “The Ingraham Angle” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight” as well as Newsmax.
“President Biden did accuse social media platforms of killing people. Do you think conservative media like Fox News are doing the same? Are they killing people too with rhetoric like you just heard?” Ms. Bash said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Dr. Murthy sidestepped the question, stressing that “all of us, including the media, including individuals, health professionals, have a responsibility to share the truth about health as science dictates, as science informs us.”
The snippets played by CNN showed conservative opinion-show hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson taking issue with pushing vaccines on unwilling recipients.
“There’s nothing more anti-democratic, anti-freedom than pushing an experimental drug on Americans against their will,” said Ms. Ingraham in the clip.
Mr. Carlson said: “The idea that you would force people to take medicine they don’t want or need, is there a precedent for that in our lifetime?”
“My worry is that all this misinformation that’s floating around is having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost and that is just tragic,” says US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on the spread of vaccine disinformation on social media and by conservative media. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/hBTk3NDs9s
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) July 18, 2021
Mr. Carlson also has said that “vaccines are not dangerous,” but mainstream liberal media outlets have taken issue with the Fox hosts in the last few days with stories such as the New York Times article, “Despite Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated, Fox News Hosts Smear Shots.”
CNN ran a story on “New Day” earlier this week accusing Fox of “anti-vaccine propaganda.”
Facebook disputed the Biden administration’s decision to “blame a handful of American social media companies,” pointing to the platform’s efforts to counter misinformation and saying that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users has increased from 70% to about 85%.
Dr. Murthy warned Thursday that social-media misinformation was “a serious threat to public health.”
“You said that disinformation coming from so-called bad actors is also to blame for this, and I want our viewers to have an idea of disinformation being spread on the right,” said Ms. Bash.
About 160 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19, but the highly contagious delta variant pushed the positivity rate up by nearly 70% in the last week, the Centers for Disease Control said Friday.
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