Fox News’ Steve Hayes and Ben Domenech Spar Over ‘Charlatans and Hucksters on the Right’ on Pushing Vax Skepticism


The usually reserved panel on Special Report got quite testy on Thursday, particularly between Steve Hayes and Ben Domenech after the former called out “charlatans and hucksters on the right” who’ve called into question the safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine. That could presumably include some Fox News personalities, such as Tucker Carlson, who has run numerous segments casting doubt on the vaccine.

Anchor Bret Baier kicked off the panel by citing the possible return of mask mandates, which could potentially be informed by guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Hayes batted leadoff and, after some remarks about the CDC and masks, started swinging at unspecified people in conservative media:

Look, I think it’s unfortunate that we’re having a debate about going back to masks for a number of reasons. Primarily because if you have a debate about going back to masks, it suggests to people who are vaccine hesitant that there’s not the kind of upside that we’ve been promising all along to getting vaccinated. And I think that’s the kind of mixed messaging that we don’t want from the White House.

Having said that, the only reason we’re having this debate about potentially having to go back to masks is because you have irresponsible people who are pretending that there’s no difference between being vaccinated and between being unvaccinated. Many of those are charlatans and hucksters on the right who are in “just asking questions” mode pretending that there’s really not much to know about being unvaccinated versus being vaccinated, or that there’s not real scientific evidence that being vaccinated provides an advantage, a significant advantage to surviving–to avoiding getting infected in the first place and surviving any Covid infection that you have.

Later in the segment, Domenech took exception, saying, “I’d like to see the evidence that the driving element for people not getting vaccinated is as he says, hucksters on the right. I don’t really see that. In fact, I see almost total unanimity on the right in terms of people recommending that people ought to be vaccinated.”

Domenech said the reimplementation of mask mandates and lockdowns would be another instance of the government pulling the rug out from underneath people after being told they could “go back to living a normal life.” He such measures would be “a far bigger danger when it comes to discouraging vaccination than anything that I’ve heard from any huckster.”

Hayes offered a clarification, which led to this exchange in which he strongly hinted that he was talking about at least one Fox News personality in particular:

HAYES: So, I didn’t say that that was the cause. I said it was a problem. It is a problem. And if Ben doesn’t know where the problem exists, I suggest he pay more attention. Clearly there are people – particularly on the right – not exclusively on the right, who are actually making that case.

DOMENECH: I think I pay a lot of attention to media on the right.

HAYES: Yeah, look. If you don’t think it’s a problem, that people are–

DOMENECH: Who’s the person that’s changing this conversation?

HAYES: If you don’t think it’s a problem that there are people on the right who are pretending in the manner of “just asking questions” that there’s no difference between being vaccinated and unvaccinated, I do think you ought to pay close attention.

DOMENECH: I said it was a problem when Kamala Harris said that there was questions about vaccines under Donald Trump, and it’s a problem, obviously with anybody questioning it. I don’t see anybody of the stature of Kamala Harris on the right today saying that people ought not be vaccinated.

Baier reacted to the argument by reminding them that Juan Williams was on the panel as well.

Watch above via Fox News.

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Mike is a Mediaite senior editor who covers the news in primetime.