Fox News denies contact with White House about vaccine coverage

Fox News issued a scathing rebuke to reporting from CNN on Tuesday suggesting the network held talks with officials in the White House Communications Office about how the network should cover coronavirus vaccines. 

CNN, citing a single anonymous source, reported there have been high-level talks between network staffers at the outlet and administration officials about pandemic and vaccine-related programming.

The report suggested members of the White House communications staff "regularly reached out to Fox News about their Covid-19 coverage." 

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Fox News denied any such talks ever took place in a statement to The Hill. 

“CNN’s reporting is inaccurate," the network said. "There have been no high level conversations between FOX News Media and the White House regarding our coverage. We had one routine briefing with the White House in early May on vaccination rates and our DC bureau personnel are regularly in touch with them on a variety of issues, as is the case with every other network.”

The issue also came up at the White House on Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier Tuesday that officials in the White House had "been in touch with every network and many, many media outlets about coverage of COVID-19" as part of their effort to "make sure people have accurate information, to voice concerns when we have them." 

"I think you all know we’re never shy when we have an issue with a story," she added

As it relates to Fox News specifically, Psaki said the White House understands "the importance of reaching Fox’s audience about the COVID-19 vaccines and their benefits. And like we are with all of you here today, we of course are in regular contact and we also make efforts to have officials out on a range of networks to talk about COVID-19." 

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"We don’t see it as a partisan issue, we don't see vaccines as a political issue," she concluded. "It’s an issue about keeping Americans safe."

The back and forth between the two networks comes a day after several prominent hosts both during daytime and prime-time programming on Fox pleaded with viewers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and dismissed conspiracy theories about its safety or efficacy. 

“Please take COVID seriously,” prime-time host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityMeadows says Trump World looking to 'move forward in a real way' Psaki says Biden admin 'needs' Fox News in order to fight vaccine misinformation Ronny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign MORE said during his nightly program Monday night. "I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death.”

In a statement to The Hill on Tuesday evening, CNN doubled down on its reporting. 

"There is no dispute that conversations took place between Fox News and the White House about the network’s coronavirus coverage," a spokesperson for the outlet said. "The White House initially confirmed our report, which characterized these meetings at a “high level,” but backtracked on its position when challenged on the definition of “high level.” Our reporting has been updated to reflect the White House’s change in position."