- The Fox Corporation has a return to office protocol involving voluntary proof of vaccination.
- Top host Tucker Carlson has compared vaccine passports to “Jim Crow” racial segregation laws.
- Fox Corp employees who don’t submit their status must continue masking and social distancing.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Fox Corporation has instituted a strict COVID-19 policy that includes a vaccine passport, allowing only the company’s fully-vaccinated employees to work in their offices without wearing a mask or social distancing.
But a slew of the parent company’s Fox News personalities, particularly two of its highest-paid and most influential primetime hosts, have railed against exactly this kind of vaccination policy, also known as a “vaccine passport.”
Beyond increased vaccine hesitancy among conservative men — a major share of the network’s audience — polling shows Fox News viewers are less likely to say they have gotten or plan on getting the vaccine compared to the general population.
Many of the network’s daytime anchors have said on-air that they’ve gotten vaccinated and have encouraged viewers to do the same, but in primetime, hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have both frequently dismissed the science around the vaccine and featured guests making misleading and false claims about the shots’ high level of efficacy.
Carlson, Fox’s top rated host and the centerpiece of its growing streaming service, has compared vaccine passports to “Jim Crow” racial segregation laws and likened asking someone about their vaccination status to asking them whether they’ve been infected with HIV or what their favorite sex positions are.
“Medical Jim Crow has come to America,” Carlson claimed last month. “If we still had water fountains, the unvaccinated would have separate ones.”
Both the host and network will not say whether he’s been vaccinated.
A Fox News spokesperson pointed Insider toward a Fox Corp. memo from June on return to office procedures. A Fox Corp. spokesperson confirmed the rollout of the voluntary proof of vaccination system to Insider in an email.
The Intercept’s Ryan Grim first reported on Monday that Fox began asking its employees to attest to their own vaccination status in May in order to receive a “FOX Clear Pass.” Employees who don’t inform the company that they’ve been fully vaccinated — including the dates of their shots and type of immunization — are required to fill out a daily health screening before coming into the office, wear masks, and maintain physical distance from others in the office.
Ingraham, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has brought guests on who spread lies about the COVID-19 vaccines, including the falsehood that the shots aren’t effective agains the new, even more contagious Delta variant.
—Aliciasadowski (@aliciasadowski6) July 14, 2021
In the early months of the pandemic, much of the network’s coverage downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and followed the playbook of its late founder by turning the pandemic into a culture war.
Carlson has made vaccine skepticism a mainstay of his show, even turning segments on the vaccine into attacks on elites encouraging Americans to get it.
None of Fox’s on-air personalities have discussed this specific policy from their employer, but they have spoken on air about having to wear masks in the building and getting to see colleagues in person again once they got vaccinated.
Some hosts have encouraged viewers to get vaccinated. Primetime host Sean Hannity has urged his audience to seek advice from their doctors and research the vaccines. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy has said he got the shot and encouraged others to as well.
The network recently ran a public service announcement urging those who can to get vaccinated. And in a new development on Monday, Fox News and Fox Business banners featured the vaccine.gov web address during segments on COVID-19.