In theory there’s an answer to this question that sits comfortably within conservative orthodoxy: Conservatives oppose state mandates but support the right of private business owners to run their own shops. Joe Biden jury-rigging a federal vaccination requirement through some arcane OSHA regulation is an infringement on liberty by an overreaching state. But an entrepreneur demanding that his staff be vaccinated as a condition of employment is an expression of liberty — specifically, the entrepreneur’s freedom to set the rules for his own business within legal limits.
If that were the default conservative position, there’d be no contradiction in Tucker Carlson lambasting Biden for his mandate while quietly complying with the mandate Fox Corp. has set for its own employees.
Kevin Lord, executive vice president of human resources at Fox News parent Fox Corp., said in a memo this week the company will be requiring all unvaccinated employees to be tested each day — not just once a week — in order to work in company facilities. The policy was first reported by CNN.
Fox last month required employees to report evidence of their status, and Lord said more than 90% of full-time employees have been fully vaccinated…
Fox was attacked from the right by a former employee, Eric Bolling. Now on the conservative network Newsmax, Bolling said Wednesday night that network leaders are pushing the wrong policies.
“So while Fox hosts bemoan and complain about the liberals who are forcing Americans to get vaccinated, they themselves are doing the same thing — and that is the textbook definition of hypocrisy,” he said.
Fox’s requirement of daily testing for unvaccinated workers is actually more stringent than Biden’s mandate, which calls for weekly testing. But again, there’s no contradiction there if it’s government vaccine mandates you oppose. Fox is a private entity and should be at liberty to set health rules for its staff. Staffers who object may exercise their own liberty, the liberty to work elsewhere.
The problem, as Chris Hayes explained last night, is that some Foxies don’t appear to distinguish between government mandates and private mandates. It’s the freedom of the employee not to get vaccinated that’s paramount for them, with some Fox hosts celebrating workers at other companies as minor folk heroes for having resisted their own employers’ vaccine mandates. If the worker’s freedom to resist unwanted immunization should trump all else then it’s immaterial morally whether they’re being pressured by a government or by a private business. The pressure is objectionable either way.
Which leads Hayes to wonder: Why hasn’t Tucker quit Fox in protest? Or at least savaged his own network on the air for imposing pro-vax tyranny on its work force? Watch, then read on.
Chris Hayes has a feeling Tucker Carlson might be about to quit Fox News… pic.twitter.com/O7Hjc7TwIo
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) October 7, 2021
That segment made me think of this notable comment from a few days ago:
Open-minded & inclusive, I’m friends with all kinds of people. But as we pass 700,000 #Covid dead, I have zero tolerance for anti-Vaxers.
Most of all, I detest vaccinated dick heads who urge the unvaccinated to “fight for their freedom,” the mob urging the man on ledge to jump
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) October 2, 2021
Which “vaccinated dick heads” prone to egging on viewers to resist getting vaccinated themselves does Geraldo have in mind? Hmmmm.
There’s a running debate within the commentariat about how much blame Fox’s vax-skeptical and/or mandate-skeptical hosts should bear for low rates of vaccination among Republicans. My guess is “not as much as the left would like to think.” Even a popular show like Carlson’s draws between “only” three and four million viewers per night. The universe of vaccine resisters on the right is much larger than that:
Conservative media sometimes blame the problem of the unvaccinated on people of color, but the data show vaccine resistance is mostly about red America and younger adults now…
By the numbers: 59% of the unvaccinated are Republicans, 64% are white and 46% have a high school education or less. More than half of the unvaccinated live in suburbs with another 27% living in rural areas…
Between the lines: These unvaccinated adults tend towards COVID denialism and often see their decision not to get the vaccination as an expression of their personal freedom.
Tucker’s not so much driving vaccine skepticism among his audience as responding to it, I think. Meanwhile, however, the question of whether vaccine mandates will meaningfully increase compliance among holdouts once they’re imposed is being answered convincingly day by day. Yes, mandates are working. All but the hardest core of hardcore resisters end up bending to their boss’s demand to get vaccinated as a condition of keeping their jobs:
Our analysis of news articles about companies who have lost employees shows the numbers who have lost their job appears to be less than 1 percent of the company’s workforce on average. (Spreadsheet available here.)
In conducting this search, we found news accounts of 17 large organizations where resignations or terminations occurred. All but 3 of the organizations experienced under 1 percent turnover due to the requirements, with median turnover at 0.6 percent…
Many news headlines and tweets cite the raw numbers of people who quit with no larger context. A headline from NBC blared, “Nearly 600 United Airlines employees face termination for defying vaccine mandate.” These days, that’s all the fodder needed to launch an online culture war. But the article itself noted the airline employs 67,000 people, meaning just 0.9 percent will actually lose their jobs. That number was later reduced even further, to just 320.
Seventeen companies is a small sample size but the anecdotal evidence of compliance skyrocketing as mandate deadlines approach is consistent so far. In fact, nursing-home advocates are watching those numbers and have begun to lean on the White House to impose a mandate on nursing-home workers too, knowing that compliance is lagging at around 65 percent of staff despite the fact that they’re in close quarters daily with the most vulnerable people in the U.S. population.
None of that is to suggest that Americans will tolerate all mandates. The share who say they’d probably tolerate a vaccine requirement to rent a car or visit a national park is below 50 percent, per Morning Consult. But 61 percent say they’d probably approve of vaccine passports for domestic flights and 59 percent say the same for using a gym. The almost insurmountable problem for mandate opponents is that most American adults are vaccinated now and therefore won’t be burdened by any of these restrictions. Some mandates, like the car-rental idea, seem so needlessly onerous and silly that even many immunized people will oppose them on principle. But by and large, if you’ve already had your shots, you don’t care much about rules that won’t affect you.