Psaki says Biden admin ‘needs’ Fox News in order to fight vaccine misinformation
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says that President Biden’s administration sees connecting with viewers of Fox News as a necessity as they aim to beat back misinformation about coronavirus vaccines at a time when nationwide rates of inoculation are falling.
“Well, first we don’t do a lot of the personalities on Fox,” Psaki said during a recent appearance on Snapchat’s news program “Good Luck America.”
“Look, I would say that the president’s No. 1 goal still is beating the pandemic. Our objective is to put people back to work, and we need to talk to Fox and Fox viewers in order to do that. Now, they are not waiting for the president, the vice president, me, other people from the administration to tell them what to do, but they might listen to medical experts or some of our doctors, they might. There might be information that strikes them because it’s so fact-based, if we convey it to Fox, that they may hear that.”
Psaki acknowledged that some hosts on the cable news network, the highest rated in the country, have either downplayed the need for or questioned the science behind vaccines.
Picking a fight with hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham are not worth the trouble for the White House, Psaki said.
“And I think our view at this moment is we don’t have to approve — we don’t — of everything they do editorially, of everything their personalities say and do, but it is still a platform for us to communicate with the public,” she said. “And frankly, the other piece of it is getting in a fight with Fox News at this point in time for the administration isn’t particularly constructive coming off of an administration that completely destroyed trust in media, trust in institutions. That’s not the fight we want to fight right now, right? We want to fight a fight about getting the pandemic under control and things that actually impact people’s lives.”
Biden during a town hall last week said he was pleased to see some leading hosts on the network, like Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy, advocate for their audiences to be vaccinated and dispel viewers of conspiracy theories regarding the science that made them possible.
“One of those other networks — they’re not a big fan of mine, one you talk about a lot — but if you notice, as they say in the southern part of my state, they’ve had an altar call, some of those guys,” Biden said.
Last week, Fox News denied a report from rival network CNN that suggested top editorial brass at the network had been in contact with the White House about coverage of coronavirus vaccines.
The network also debuted a new public service announcement last week urging viewers to get a shot and directing them to a vaccine tracker on the news organization’s website homepage.
Psaki, who spars occasionally with Fox News’s White House correspondent Peter Doocy during briefings from the podium, said one of the Biden administration’s top communication strategies is to reach all Americans through “a range of platforms.”
“You need to be able to speak through a range of formats in order to reach the public,” she said. “That’s your objective. That means doing a range of platforms that weren’t even around 10, 15 years ago. It also means doing a range of platforms that may not like the president because you still need to reach the public where they are. A lot of people still watch Fox News. Do they like the president or even like me most days? No, but that’s okay. Our job is not only to talk to people who like us.”