As CNN Wants to Insist Fox News Drives Anti-Vax Positions, the People and the Evidence Say Otherwise

CNN's Chris Cuomo interviews fired Florida data technician Rebekah Jones - May 22, 2020. Credit: CNN

One of the recurring mantras heard at America’s News Leader, CNN, is how Fox News is fueling anti-vaccine sentiments. Their desire to smear their rival is so entrenched that in the past weeks, as more on-air personalities at Fox have encouraged vaccinations, Brian Stelter and others in the press have still scorched the network…for doing the very thing they have accused them of not doing.

Yet as this mentality is continuing to be sold on the air at CNN on a daily basis there is something lacking in their strident opinion — evidence. While the desire to impugn Fox as the cause of the unvaccinated outbreaks is strong, the evidence presented is very weak. But that is not to say there is no evidence. What CNN lacks in proof is delivered by other news outlets, and their findings are understandably not being echoed by their anchors. 

One starting point is the Kaiser Foundation poll that showed the majority of those who resisted getting vaccinated were not exactly from the Tucker Carlson audience: 

Just 20% of the group called themselves Republican with an additional 19% being independents who leaned Republican. The clear majority (61%) were not Republicans (41% said they were Democrats or Democratic leaning independents and 20% were either pure independents or undesignated).

In a nice dose of irony, not only is this poll not referenced in these attacks on Fox, it was actually reported at CNN. One other favorite canard is that there is a preponderance of Christian zealots who refuse to get shot as a result of religious underpinnings. Other data shows this is not the case, as the non-religious are more likely to be resistant, according to the progressive polling group Data Progress.

Now let’s look at the recent controversy from the White House, where they wanted to target 12 accounts on social media who are most responsible for vaccine misinformation, according to the administration. None of those listed are Fox News, it should be noted, but also they are not sources referenced on the network. So that covers the lack of urgency seen on the accursed Fox, but what about the people themselves? They Must be devoted Fox audience members, right?

No, they are not. A New York Times piece made a lengthy study of those who have been resisting the vaccine, and these were not militant political resistors. They simply had fears, anxieties, and questions over various aspects of the vaccine.My main takeaway from reporting this piece,” said writer Julie Bosman, “is just that people are complicated, with real fear over this vaccine, and they don’t always make quick, linear decisions. Many millions are still out there who are able to be persuaded.” 

And as this narrative about Fox driving the anti-vax mindset in the country is unraveling, let’s look at one other report that fails to find the Fox connection. David Begnaud spoke to some suffering through the virus, asking them what had kept them from going through with the vaccine.

What these finger-pointers and condescending talking heads fail to grasp is that their methodology is the biggest flaw in the fight to get people inoculated. The combative attitude is the opposite means of persuasion. The condescension, the insults, and the insinuations of being uneducated on the matter will have the exact opposite effect. Nervous minds and those skeptical of the government are not swayed by aggressive journalists.

They are trying to get the crab to come out by tapping on the shell, and the paradox is they are too stunted to realize they are using a failed tactic. Those in the media are failing in messaging because they approach the subjects with disdain, and the people are shutting them out as a result. They do not recognize this is the result, all while posturing as the smartest people in the room.

Why not show how there are very few instances of dire results seen from the vaccine? How about explaining that fears over side effects are minimized by the side effects from the virus, something that is more lasting and realized even after recovering? The politicians and journalists who attack the unvaccinated with disdain somehow fail to see their effort leads to those people becoming convinced they have been correct all along.