President Joe Biden demanded on Tuesday that media companies such as Fox News and Facebook that spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation stop the practice, calling it deadly for their customers.
Biden, speaking during a news conference about the COVID-19 pandemic, did not take the onus off the unvaccinated but said they were too often ill-informed by the media they consume.
“The unvaccinated are responsible for their own choices,” Biden said. “But those choices have been fueled by dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media.”
Biden’s remarks came with COVID-19 cases surging across the country as the Omicron variant has swiftly overtaken the Delta variant as the dominant strain. On Monday, the CDC estimated that Omicron accounts for 73% of all COVID cases in the U.S.
“You know, these companies and personalities are making money by peddling lies and allowing misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own supporters,” Biden said. “It’s wrong. It’s immoral. I call on the purveyors of these lies and misinformation to stop it – stop it now.”
Fox News and Facebook have consistently kept any blame for vaccine misinformation at arm’s length.
Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch has even stuck up for ratings champion Tucker Carlson, earlier this year calling Carlson’s comments about COVID vaccines “brave.” Carlson’s oft-repeated comments have ranged from saying young, healthy people don’t need the vaccine to alleging Dr. Anthony Fauci helped create COVID-19 in a lab — and that COVID vaccines even kill people.
For Facebook’s part, after saying it was going to push 50 million people toward COVID vaccines, the company’s own research revealed 41% of vaccine-related comments on English posts discouraged vaccination, according to Wall Street Journal reporting published in September. Just a month earlier, Facebook had claimed it had removed 20 million items violating its COVID policy.
Watch Biden’s remarks in video here or at the top of this page.
Tim Baysinger and Antoinette Siu contributed to this report.