Is Sean Hannity getting sued? Fox News host's turn as 'pro-vaccine' advocate fuels speculation

'Please take COVID seriously, I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more deaths,' Hannity said on air


                            Is Sean Hannity getting sued? Fox News host's turn as 'pro-vaccine' advocate fuels speculation
Host Sean Hannity on set of FOX's 'Hannity With Sean Hannity' at FOX Studios on April 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)

Fox News host and provocateur Sean Hannity, who had proudly proclaimed last month that he doesn’t “give a s*** what anyone says about me”, has surprised people with his advocacy of the Covid-19 vaccine, that too on-air. On Monday night, July 19, Hannity took some time out of his broadcast to tell Fox News viewers to take the coronavirus pandemic “seriously” and declaring that he believes in the “science of vaccines.”

"Please take COVID seriously, I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more deaths," Hannity said on air. "Research like crazy, talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously."

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“Take it seriously. You also have a right to medical privacy, and doctor-patient confidentiality is also important,” Hannity stated. “And it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination.” While Fox News has been heavily criticized for its anchors adding to vaccine hesitancy, this is not the first time Hannity has endorsed vaccination. The New York Times reported in a piece titled ‘Despite Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated, Fox News Hosts Smear Shots’, that Hannity said on a May episode of ‘Hannity’ that he planned to get a Covid-19 shot. “I do believe in science, and I believe in vaccinations,” he said. “Talk to your doctor. You don’t need to talk to people on TV and radio that aren’t doctors.”

The Times report said that Rupert Murdoch received a vaccine dose even before the queen of England and President Joe Biden, and urged everyone else to get it. However, prime-time shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham on Murdoch’s news network have said on the air that vaccines could be dangerous and that people are justified in refusing them. And this isn’t ancient history. Earlier this month, Carlson and Ingraham criticized a plan by the Biden administration to increase vaccinations by having health care workers and volunteers go door to door to try to persuade people to get jabbed. “Going door-to-door?” Ingraham said. “This is creepy stuff.” Carlson, the highest-rated Fox News host, said in the same vein that the plan was an attempt to “force people to take medicine they don’t want or need,” calling the initiative “the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far.”

The News Corp. building on 6th Avenue, home to Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, on March 20, 2019 in New York City, New York. Disney acquired Fox today in a $71.3 million deal. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

 

Dr Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician and the executive director of the Committee to Protect Health Care, an organization of medical professionals across the country, wrote an op-ed for NBC News, where he said, “I don’t blame my patients for their refusal... I do blame Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7.” Davidson argued, “Time is not on our side. We must do what science and evidence tell us demonstrably work to defeat Covid-19: Wear a mask, get vaccinated, and stop watching Fox News.” While Hannity may have attempted to move away from the anti-vaccine discourse, there reportedly is data to illustrate that he shares culpability when it comes to the spread of Covid-19.

An April 2020 Vox report cited a paper (that hadn’t then been peer-reviewed or accepted for publication at a journal) written by economists Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott that focused on Fox News programming in February and early March. The paper found that “Greater exposure to ‘Hannity’ relative to ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ leads to a greater number of Covid-19 cases and deaths. A one-standard-deviation increase in relative viewership of Hannity relative to Carlson is associated with approximately 30 percent more Covid-19 cases on March 14, and 21 percent more Covid-19 deaths on March 28.”

Fox News, of course, refuted the study. “The selective cherry-picked clips of Sean Hannity’s coverage used in this study are not only reckless and irresponsible but downright factually wrong,” a spokesperson said. “As this timeline proves, Hannity has covered Covid-19 since the early days of the story. The ‘study’ almost completely ignores his coverage and repeated, specific warnings and concerns from January 27-February 26 including an early interview with Dr. Fauci in January. This is a reckless disregard for the truth.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Carlson talked about a large variety of topics including dropping testosterone levels, increasing rates of suicide, unemployment, drug addiction and social hierarchy at the summit, which had the theme 'The Case for the American Experiment.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 

Right now, Hannity’s shift from the general Fox News tonality on the subject of vaccinations has caused quite a stir online, resulting in speculation of a lawsuit the Murdoch company might face thanks to its COVID-19-denialism and anti-vaccine messaging. Political strategist and columnist Cheri Jacobus speculated, “FOX News lawyers had a little chat with @seanhannity, obviously.” Sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann said, “This morning, @stevedoocy. Then the news @foxnews offers an internal Vaccine Passport. Now @seanhannity. Somebody must’ve gotten notice of a plausible suit against Fox in a Vax-refusal lawsuit.”

One Twitter user said, “Sean Hannity is telling his viewers that it's time to get vaccinated. After he gaslit millions. And helped kill an untold number. It sure reeks of a Fox News class action lawsuit to me.” Another person wrote on Twitter, “The damage is already done, so Sean Hannity saying the right thing today about vaccines because he’s losing money in stocks and is afraid of class action lawsuits isn’t heroic nor will I thank him for it, especially since he promoted anti-vaccination nonsense right before. Nope.” LGBTQIA+ rights activist Charlotte Clymer wrote on Twitter, “Please, for the love of all that's good, you don't have to praise Sean Hannity. He has done absolutely nothing to merit your praise. ‘Take COVID seriously’ is his numbed and resigned response to getting spanked by Fox News lawyers behind closed doors. Don't praise him for that.”



 



 



 



 



 

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