Fox & Friends jumped at the news that vaccinated cancer patient Colin Powell died of COVID-19 to suggest that vaccines are not really effective. In fact, Powell’s age and health status made him particularly vulnerable to exactly the danger Fox promotes: unvaccinated spreaders.
As the time stamp indicates below, cohost public-health opponent Will Cain’s 8:08 AM exploitation of Powell’s death came minutes after news broke of Powell’s death, shortly before 8 AM ET. Cohosts Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade joined in the disinformation.
CAIN: There will also be conversations about the fact that [Powell] was fully vaccinated, according to his family, and he died from complications from COVID. We are beginning to see statistics like this grow in frequency.
EARHARDT: Yes, we are.
[Kilmeade nodded in agreement.}
CAIN: We know that the vaccine does wane over time in its ability to protect you from not just transmission and infection but from severe complications [Earhardt murmuered agreement] and hospitalizations and, obviously, death as well.
We know that it wanes and we know that it’s beginning to spill over – COVID – into the vaccinated population. Again, Colin Powell, in the direct age demographic that suffers the most from complications from COVID. But I think everyone watching needs to be aware of limitations and protections…
Here’s what Cain left out: The 84 year-old Powell was immunocompromised because he was fighting multiple myeloma and he just as likely died not because of the vaccines' limitations but because of anti-vaccine sentiment ginned up nearly every day on Fox News. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump explains:
It’s not the case that [Powell's death] demonstrates that vaccines are futile or not useful. Instead, it's a reminder that the virus still poses a risk to the elderly, even when vaccinated, and therefore that the goal should be to tamp down on the spread of the virus broadly. If Powell had been at little risk of contracting the virus because transmission rates were low, he would have been at almost zero risk of dying from it. But, instead, his death comes at a time when more than 80,000 people a day are still contracting the virus and more than 1,500 people are dying from it — about as many people as were dying in early April 2020.
It seems inevitable in this moment that Powell’s death will prompt new indifference to the vaccine, as though his death somehow proves that the vaccines don’t work. The lesson we should learn instead is that the vaccines work best when they work broadly and that, had Powell been protected both by the vaccine and by low rates of infection in his community, he might still be alive.
Don’t expect to hear that truth from the public health enemies on Fox.
You can watch Fox & Friends exploit Powell’s death for its killer politics below, from the October 18, 2021 Fox & Friends, via Media Matters’ Lis Power.
Updated 10/18/21 to note Powell's age.
Fox News is already using Colin Powell's death to cast doubt on vaccine effectiveness— Lis Power (@LisPower1) October 18, 2021
Just a reminder, since they aren't mentioning it: While there have been breakthrough cases and deaths -- you are far, far, far more likely to die from Covid if you are unvaccinated pic.twitter.com/Vwzj1bGDE5
“Why the heck not?”
“Because Covid is killing people. Nearly three quarters of a million Americans so far!”
“And we have vaccines… vaccines that can save people’s lives and stop it spreading!”
“Listen. You like your job, am I right? The money, the clothes, the fact that you’re seen in millions of homes every day…”
“Yeah, of course.”
“And you wouldn’t like anything to happen to it…”