There have been regular high-level talks between the White House and Fox News about their coverage of the pandemic and vaccines, a source familiar with the talks told CNN.
The news of the discussions comes as one of the network’s stars, Sean Hannity, urged his audience on Monday night to “please take Covid seriously”.
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. During the pandemic, officials reached out to Fox News regularly regarding their Covid-19 coverage. While White House officials often turn to television networks and other news outlets about their coverage of the coronavirus, that reach is remarkable given Fox News’ previous coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday that White House officials are in regular contact with Fox News.
When CNN’s Phil Mattingly asked for more information about the discussions during the press conference, Psaki said, “We have been in touch with every network and many, many media outlets about coverage of Covid-19 to make sure people have accurate information feature. To express concerns when we have them. ”
“And I think you all know that we are never shy when we have a problem with a story. So that’s really the framework we’re looking at here. So we also understand the importance of reaching the Fox audience about the Covid-19 vaccines and their benefits, and as we are with all of you here today we are of course in regular contact, “she continued. “And we’re also trying to have officials on a number of networks to talk about Covid-19. We don’t see this as a partisan issue. We don’t see vaccines as a political issue. It’s about the security of the Americans. ”
As vaccinations have declined in recent months, the White House has made repeated attempts to reach those who have still been vaccinated as mild breakthrough cases become more common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 282,070 people are fully vaccinated each day. That’s about the same as last week, but about a third of the speed it was a month ago when more than 858,000 people were fully vaccinated every day.
CNN has approached Fox News for comment on the talks.
Year round, Fox has been a center for vaccine skepticism and even outright hostility on some shows.
While some hosts have spoken about the positive aspects of vaccines and shared their own vaccination experiences, numerous others have acted on anti-vaccination rhetoric and encouraged guests to do the same.
The network’s most popular personality, Tucker Carlson, has aired dozens of segments that cast doubt on the government’s vaccination efforts. Some of his monologues have explicitly questioned the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Other right-wing networks and websites have done the same, but Fox has the largest audience of Republican voters.
Fox’s coverage has been scrutinized more intensively in recent weeks. On Monday, media critics noted that several segments on Fox directed viewers to the government’s website, Vaccines.gov, with an on-screen banner, something it hasn’t done in weeks.
And Hannity, who previously downplayed the pandemic but has regularly spoken out in favor of vaccines, said on Monday evening, “I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need death anymore. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor, physicians, health care professionals whom you trust because of their unique medical history. … take it seriously. ”
The White House has been concerned about misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines advertised in the mass media, especially social media, in recent weeks. The pace of vaccinations has slowed and the Biden government has pointed to misinformation as the main reason for this.
The US surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy warned Thursday that health misinformation is “a serious threat to public health,” and the government called social media giant Facebook directly for not doing enough to spread false information on its platform to stop.
This story has been updated with additional comments from the White House.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.