Todd Starnes: ‘Biden Says Even Fox News Has A Mandatory Vaccine Policy’
On September 14 2021, a popular Imgur post showed a screenshot of a Todd Starnes tweet, in which Starnes questioned whether Fox News had a “mandatory vaccine policy”:
Biden says even @FoxNews has a mandatory vaccine policy. Is that true? That can't be true. Have Hannity and Tucker and the others gotten the vaccine? That just can't be true.
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) September 9, 2021
On September 9 2021, Starnes tweeted:
Biden says even @FoxNews has a mandatory vaccine policy. Is that true? That can’t be true. Have Hannity and Tucker and the others gotten the vaccine? That just can’t be true.
Starnes’ expression of disbelief was two-tiered; the primary claim was whether Fox News (a purveyor of content opposing vaccine requirements) itself had a mandatory vaccine policy, and the second was whether U.S. President Joe Biden had said so.
An Imgur comment showed a screenshot of two August 14 2021 tweets, which addressed myriad talk-show hosts’ deaths in August 2021:
In the tweets, Kath Barbadoro observed:
The funny thing about all the right wing radio guys dying of covid is that you can see the exact point in the conservative power structure at which the people involved know they’re lying
The fox hosts aren’t gonna die of covid but they don’t bother to let the local radio guys in on the fact that the whole thing is a scam
What Did President Biden Say About Fox News’ Vaccine Mandate?
Starnes’ tweet claimed that “Biden says even @FoxNews has a mandatory vaccine policy,” and asked if that was “true.”
On September 9 2021, Business Insider’s “Joe Biden says ‘even Fox News’ has a strict vaccine passport policy while unveiling his new vaccination and testing mandates” reported:
President Joe Biden held up Fox News as an example of a corporation that has already implemented the kind of COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy the administration is preparing to mandate nationwide.
Biden announced on Thursday [September 9 2021] that the department of labor [sic] will issue an emergency rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccination or weekly testing for their employees.
“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tyson Food, and even Fox News,” Biden said during an address from the White House on Thursday evening [September 9 2021].
Business Insider both paraphrased and directly quoted Biden. A transcript of Biden’s remarks was published on September 9 2021 to WhiteHouse.gov (“Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic”), and the entirety of the “even Fox News” quote was included:
… we need to do more. This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
My job as President is to protect all Americans.
So, tonight [September 9 2021], I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News.
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
Although Starnes’ paraphrasing held that Biden said “even [Fox News] has a mandatory vaccine policy,” but Biden didn’t reference a “mandatory vaccine policy.” Biden said that “all employers with 100 or more employees … ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week,” and “even Fox News” ensured their workers were fully vaccinated or demonstrated a negative test “at least once a week.”
On July 19 2021, CNN published “Fox has quietly implemented its own version of a vaccine passport while its top personalities attack them,” claiming that Fox Corporation “quietly implemented the concept of a vaccine passport as workers slowly return back to the company’s offices,” and further reporting that the company had daily screenings:
Fox employees, including those who work at Fox News, received an email, obtained by CNN Business, from the company’s Human Resources department in early June  that said Fox had “developed a secure, voluntary way for employees to self-attest their vaccination status.”
“Thank you for providing FOX with your vaccination information,” the email said. “You no longer are required to complete your daily health screening through WorkCare/WorkMatters.”
The concept, which was first reported [on July 19 2021] by Ryan Grim on The Hill’s morning streaming show, is known internally as “FOX Clear Pass” … Fox News has spent months portraying the notion that people might be asked to show vaccination status as dangerous to personal freedom and anti-American.
As of July 2021, CNN emphasized “Fox Clear Pass” was “voluntary.” But the parameters matched Biden’s description — supply vaccine status or provide weekly negative tests.
On August 18 2021, CNN’s follow-up, “Fox News mandates employees disclose vaccination status, contradicting rhetoric from top stars,” reported updates to Fox News’ vaccine policy:
… Fox News, whose top personalities have for months assailed the concept of vaccine passports and argued that asking about vaccine status amounts to a major intrusion of privacy, told employees this week [of August 18 2021] that they must disclose their vaccination status to the company.
In a Tuesday [August 17 2021] memo updating staff on Covid-19 procedures, Fox News Media chief executive Suzanne Scott said that the company has “asked all employees — whether on site as part of our essential workforce or working remotely — to upload their vaccination status” into an internal database.
“All employees must enter their status no later than today, August 17th , by close of business,” Scott wrote, bolding that particular sentence in her email, which was obtained by CNN Business, but first reported on by AdWeek.
Scott added that while masks remain optional for vaccinated employees, the company is “requiring employees to wear a mask in small, confined spaces with limited opportunities for social distancing and where there are multiple employees, including control rooms.”
Employees who reported their status are allowed to bypass the otherwise required daily health screening.
The Fox News Vaccine Mandate
On September 9 2021, pundit Todd Starnes tweeted a claim that U.S. President Joe Biden said “even [Fox News] has a mandatory vaccine policy,” positing that the claim “can’t be true.” In actuality, Biden described policy wherein companies with more than 100 employees “ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.” In July 2021, Fox News’ “Fox Clear Pass” was virtually the same as Biden’s “tyrannical” proposal — but in August 2021, Fox mandated employees disclose and submit their vaccination status. The most reasonable interpretation of Starnes’ tweet was a question of whether Biden accurately described Fox News’ vaccine policy on September 9 2021, and a comparison of the transcript of Biden’s remarks with widely-reported information about Fox News’ policy indicated that Biden was accurate and truthful.