Over the past year, the media has been an essential source for many to receive information about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, that means people got accurate information about the pandemic and the political nonsense that has defined it from the start. But unfortunately, a number of journalists on, ahem, certain channels (looking at you, Fox News) have done nothing but lie and deny. Now, though, prominent network hosts like Sean Hannity are backtracking on their COVID-denying claims. Which is good, I guess — but not quite as wholesome as it seems.
On Monday, Hannity told viewers, "Just like we've been saying, please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more death." Although he didn't outright tell people to receive a vaccine, Hannity did urge them to "research like crazy" and said he believed in the science behind the vaccines.
"Take it seriously. You also have a right to medical privacy, and doctor-patient confidentiality is also important," he said. "And it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination."
Per Insider, this plea came shortly after Hannity criticized universities mandating vaccines, which made it all the more bizarre. After all, ever since the pandemic began, Hannity has followed the usual conservative path of trying to frame it all as fake. During a March broadcast, Hannity even stated, "I see it, again, as like, let's bludgeon [Donald] Trump with this new hoax."
Hannity denied referring to coronavirus as a hoax in response to an open letter signed by 74 journalism professors and leading journalists, telling The Guardian, "I said it was a hoax for them to be using it as a bludgeon on Trump. And they are. [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi are talking about an investigation. Now? In the middle of a pandemic?"
"Go to my website and you'll see irrefutable evidence that I have taken this seriously way before most in the media did," he continued. "I warned in January that it was dangerous because it was highly contagious, but some people were asymptomatic, so it would spread quickly."
However, it wasn't hard to pull up receipts that show Hannity is full of it. After all, his comments are literally broadcast on television. For example, two days after referring to coronavirus as a supposed hoax to attack Trump, he started talking about a supposed "coronavirus hysteria." He also said early on that the virus was only as bad as the flu.
To be honest, this sort of flip-flopping is largely in tune with Hannity's record on coronavirus. In fact, Vox reported on Hannity trying to change his tune in March 2020. But as the United States enters a new phase of the pandemic due to the Delta variant, he's not the only Fox News host trying to act as if they've given a crap now. On Monday, The Hill reported that in two separate segments of Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy and Bill Hemmer urged people to get vaccines.
So what's the deal? Well, on Sunday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 700 points, seeing its worst drop since October. Per CNBC, the tumble reflects concerns that a resurgence of coronavirus cases due to new variants will once again slow down economic growth across the world.
So, sure, maybe Hannity and his friends have had a sudden and altruistic change of heart. But it's also possible that they're backtracking now because, well, money motivates. There's also the fact that this month alone, a number of outlets, including The New York Times and Insider, covered statements by fellow Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham that went against expert public health advice on vaccines. Given that Hannity only backtracked on referring to the coronavirus as a "hoax" after an open letter came after Fox News as a whole, it's likely that these hosts are changing their tunes because the network is taking some heat, too.