Is This the Sound of Redemption for 'Fox & Friends?' No. But We'll Take It.

·4-min read
Photo credit: Twitter
Photo credit: Twitter

We've had our fun with the Friends of Fox over the years on the basis that the hosts are vectors for misinformation, brazenly propagandistic, and completely unable to deal with anyone that stumbles into their closed infotainment ecosystem to offer an unexpected point of view. But we gotta give the big ups where they're due: Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Ainsley Earhardt have openly discussed how they got vaccinated, and are happy about it, on-air. Compared to the Just-Asking-Questions anti-vaxxer crap coming out of Fox News primetime thanks to irredeemable freaks like Tucker Carlson—and where's your money on whether or not Tucker himself has been Pfizered up?—the Friends are looking very admirable indeed.

"I will say there is so much freedom," said Ainsley Earhardt in introducing the discussion. "I understand there are people that have vaccine hesitancy, but we all three are vaccinated and I tell you when I got it it was like, 'Okay…relief.'"

Then Doocy tried to up the stakes on the other side. "Right, but it’s the people who have not gotten the shot which, you know, ultimately, they are the ones who are in peril, and they are the ones…"

And then Kilmeade felt the need to jump in: "Making their own decisions."

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OK, so that went a bit off the rails, presumably because the hosts are afraid of their own audience. There are few things worse among American conservatives than being told what to do—or even the suggestion there's something they should do. Freedom means doing the exact thing you want to do all the time, and balking at any suggestions otherwise is an act of revolutionary resistance. Kilmeade's desperate turn to the camera to assure their audience—and Republican men are definitely a vaccine-hesitant group—that it's their choice whether or not to get vaccinated was both obviously true and deeply revealing.

But the hosts did make it clear that they, your friends on the teevee, got vaccinated, and they're glad they did. This is the very least that critics are demanding from Carlson, the network's biggest star, and it's what outraged people about Donald Trump, then President of the United States, getting vaccinated in secret early on. (Trump has since encouraged people to get vaccinated at times, then waffled a bit.) If you're not going to encourage people to get the shot, a proposition which offers a (possible) downside of a day or two of feeling shitty in exchange for getting back to your life again, you could at least be transparent with them about your own decision. Instead, we've often gotten Carlson's throwback to the time when conservative elites served up the slop to the masses while living an entirely different life themselves. (This persists among Fox personalities in general, who rail against Coastal Elites from their coastal enclaves.) Carlson's rope-a-dope almost feels quaint in the age where more and more Republican members of Congress are getting high on their own supply.

But not so for the Fox & Friends, and we must give them credit for clearing this lowest of low bars. They told their viewers, who are disproportionately likely to distrust the vaccines, but disproportionately likely to trust Fox News hosts, that they got vaccinated and they're glad. This matters: while just 11 percent of those still unvaccinated said they would definitely get the shot in a new Associated Press survey, 27 percent said they'd probably do it and another 27 percent said probably not. We need to get these folks over the line. There is some room to work there, and some of the work needs to be done by people like Ainsley Earhardt. This almost makes up for the time Kilmeade said kids in his neighborhood were being "turned into MS-13" to excuse away the zero-tolerance policy that led inevitably to child separation at the border. Well, not really. But now we just need Donald J. Trump to do that commercial.

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