Fox News is inching closer to what its self-righteous viewers would likely describe as fascism, apartheid, Nazism, socialism, pick your ism, as the network is requiring its employees to disclose their vaccination status. In a memo to staff earlier this week reiterating some of its policies and updating others, Fox News Media informed its workforce that “all employees must enter their status no later than today, August 17th.” The network, which has been a beacon of anti-vax and anti-mask rhetoric, is not (as of yet) mandating vaccination for employees, just disclosure to HR, but it does require unvaccinated workers to wear masks in its New York City headquarters. Mask-wearing will also be required of everyone irrespective of vaccination status in certain in-office situations, such as control rooms, where quarters are tight and social distancing impossible.
The move is a reasonable one and, more than anything, affirms once again how deeply cynical the network’s prime-time broadcasts are, where its highest-wattage hosts, like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, like to whip their viewers into a frothy outrage about being asked to participate in a society by taking small—sometimes annoying—steps like wearing a mask in crowded public spaces or getting vaccinated to halt a pandemic. Meanwhile, the very people who produce those poisonous pixels beamed nightly into America’s homes are taking the thoughtful, health- and safety-conscious steps that they disingenuously portray on air as undemocratic, un-American, unfair.
The reasoning behind Fox News enacting these health and safety measures is, of course, that employers have a responsibility to employees to create a workplace where they can reasonably expect not to die from contracting a contagious virus, even if it’s while producing an on-air news segment that questions whether the virus is really that big of a deal. It is the same measured reasoning that state and local governments, even school districts, are trying to employ to keep their own communities safe. That Fox News is generally aligned with just about everywhere else in the thinking world on health and safety protocols, but decries the anti-liberty tyranny of, say, a public school taking the same steps, shows—for the umpteenth time—what a sham its anti-everything broadcasts really are.
It’s a ruse that has had real impact, giving cover and community to flat-earthers, which very closely resembles legitimacy. It’s no surprise then that the summertime vaccination map of the U.S. resembles the electoral map, where blue states are getting vaccinated and red states are not due to concerns about elected Nazi overlords. Fox News’ headquarters, you may have heard, isn’t in Kansas, it’s in Manhattan, which means its employees don’t actually live among the red state folks that mainline their programming. At Fox News, it turns out, the struggle is not so real after all.
Correction, Aug. 19, 2021: This post originally misstated that Fox News requiring its employees to disclose their vaccination status to HR was a new policy. The policy has been in place since June. The memo released this week was reiterating that policy and updating the company’s mask policy.