Stirring disinformation: Once relegated to political fringes, vaccine bashing takes center stage with Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham

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Credit: Fox News
Credit: Fox News

Rupert Murdoch received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Afterward, he urged everyone else to get it, too.

Since then, a different message has been a repeated refrain on the prime-time shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham on Mr. Murdoch’s Fox News Channel — a message at odds with the recommendations of health experts, even as the virus’s Delta variant and other mutations fuel outbreaks in areas where vaccination rates are below the national average.

Mr. Carlson, Ms. Ingraham and guests on their programs have said on the air that the vaccines could be dangerous; that people are justified in refusing them; and that public authorities have overstepped in their attempts to deliver them.

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The amplification of vaccine skepticism through conservative media channels could harden the reluctance of those who might otherwise have been persuaded to get a shot, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“If you have constant exposure to an outlet that is raising vaccination hesitancy, raising questions about vaccinations, that is something to anchor you in your position that says, ‘I’m not going to take the vaccine,’” Ms. Jamieson said.

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