(CNN)There have been regular, high-level conversations between the White House and Fox News regarding their coverage of the pandemic and vaccines, a source familiar with the talks tells CNN.
News of the discussions comes as one of the network’s stars, Sean Hannity, urged his audience to “please take Covid seriously” on Monday night. The person who confirmed the conversations cautioned there has been no singular conversation that has played a role in Fox’s coverage of Covid-19. Throughout the pandemic, officials have regularly reached out to Fox News about their Covid-19 coverage. While White House officials often reach out to television networks and other news outlets about their coronavirus coverage, but this outreach is notable given Fox News’ past coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Tuesday that White House officials are in regular contact with Fox News.When CNN’s Phil Mattingly asked her for more information about the discussions during the press briefing, Psaki said, “We’ve been in touch with every network and many, many media outlets about coverage of Covid-19 to make sure people have accurate information, to voice concerns when we have them.” Read MoreBiden's White House
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“And I think you all know we’re never shy when we have an issue with a story. So that’s really the frame we’re looking at here. So, we understand, also, the importance of reaching Fox’s audience about the Covid-19 vaccines and their benefits, and like we are with all of you here today we, of course, are in regular contact,” she continued. “And we also make efforts to have officials out on a range of networks to talk about Covid-19. We don’t see it as a partisan issue. We don’t see vaccines as a political issue. It’s an issue about keeping Americans safe.”As vaccinations have dropped in recent months, the White House has repeatedly tried to reach those who have yet to be vaccinated as mild breakthrough cases become more frequent. An average of 282,070 people are becoming fully vaccinated each day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about the same as last week, but it’s about a third of the pace from a month ago, when more than 858,000 people were becoming fully vaccinated each day.CNN has reached out to Fox News for comment on the conversations.All year long, Fox has been a hub for vaccine skepticism and, on some shows, outright hostility. While some hosts have talked up the positives of the vaccines and shared their own vaccination experiences, numerous others have trafficked in anti-vaccination rhetoric and encouraged guests to do the same.Tucker Carlson, the network’s most popular personality, has aired dozens of segments casting doubt on the government’s vaccination effort. Some of his monologues have specifically questioned the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Other right-wing networks and websites have done the same, but Fox has the biggest audience of Republican voters.A day of reckoning shows America's pandemic battle is sliding backwardFox’s coverage has come under intensifying scrutiny in recent weeks. On Monday, media critics noticed that multiple segments on Fox pointed viewers to the government’s website, Vaccines.gov, with an on-screen banner, something that it hasn’t done in weeks.And Hannity, who has previously downplayed the pandemic but has regularly been in favor of vaccines, said Monday night, “I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history. …Take it seriously.”The White House has grown concerned in recent weeks over misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines being promoted in mass media, especially on social media. The pace of vaccinations has slowed and the Biden administration has pointed to misinformation as a major reason why.US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy warned Thursday health misinformation is “a serious threat to public health,” and the administration directly called out social media giant Facebook for not doing enough to stop the spread of false information on its platform. This story has been updated with additional comment from the White House.