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Fox anchor Neil Cavuto urged viewers to get vaccinated. Then came the death threats

Neil Cavuto, pictured on the Fox Business Network in New York in March 2017. The Fox News Channel anchor urged viewers to get vaccinated after announcing his own breakthrough COVID-19 diagnosis.
Neil Cavuto, pictured on the Fox Business Network in New York in March 2017. The Fox News Channel anchor urged viewers to get vaccinated after announcing his own breakthrough COVID-19 diagnosis.

Updated October 27, 2021 at 9:41 PM ET

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto has battled multiple health challenges over the years, including stage 4 cancer, open heart surgery, multiple sclerosis and, currently, COVID-19. Now some of his viewers are sending him death threats — because he encouraged them to get vaccinated for their own safety.

The host of Your World With Neil Cavuto announced last week that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, despite being fully vaccinated. In recent days, he has both credited the vaccine for likely saving his life and used his platform to encourage others to roll up their sleeves.

In a MediaBuzz interview on Sunday — his first since announcing his diagnosis — Cavuto acknowledged that vaccine mandates have become highly politicized but urged viewers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities, especially immunocompromised people like himself.

"This is not about left or right. This is not about who's conservative or liberal. Last time I checked, everyone regardless of their political persuasion is coming down with this," Cavuto said. "Take the political speaking points and toss them for now, I'm begging you. Toss them and think of what's good, not only for yourself but for those around you."

Some of his Fox colleagues have expressed similar views, though the network has been a steady source of criticism about vaccine and mask requirements (despite its own company policies).

Notably, Cavuto's comments came only on the network's media criticism show and the shows he hosts, not major programs like Fox & Friends. A Fox News spokesperson confirmed that he discussed viewer reactions on Your World and Cavuto: Coast to Coast.

He focused on the odds ...

Cavuto noted that fully vaccinated people have better odds of surviving the virus, he added, and that countries with the lowest vaccination rates have the highest number of new cases.

Cavuto, who said his wife tested positive soon after he did, stressed that vaccination is not a question of politics but of safety. He implored people to think about "the bigger picture" and consider the well-being of their more vulnerable neighbors and relatives, like an older woman triple-masking at the grocery store or an immunocompromised co-worker.

"Whatever your views on mandates — and I get that, no one likes to be ordered to — but in the end, if you can get vaccinated and think of someone else and think of what that could mean to them and their survivability from something like this, we'll all be better off," he said.

Cavuto predicted that his plea would get him "in trouble," saying he anticipated some nasty viewer emails as a result.

... and read viewer emails on air

He was right. And he brought some of those messages with him when he returned to the airwaves on Tuesday.

Cavuto broadcast remotely from home as he continued his recovery, telling Fox Business that he was still experiencing problems breathing and concentrating and a loss of taste and smell. But he shifted the attention to reader emails and tweets, which he had a production assistant read on air.

Some thanked and defended him for making his position clear, while others were less appreciative.

"I admire your remarkable strength through so much adversity, but let me give you some advice," read one. "Shut up and enjoy the fact you're not dead. For now."

Later, on his own show, Cavuto reviewed more viewer messages with the help of actor Dion Baia. On the more negative end of the spectrum, one instructed him to "pound sand" and mind his own business.

"It's clear you've lost some weight with all this stuff. Good for you," wrote one viewer. "But I'm not happy with less of you. I want 'none' of you. I want you gone. Dead. Caput [sic]. Fini. Get it? Now, take your two-bit advice, deep-six it and you!"

Cavuto took the comments in stride and reiterated that he just wants more unvaccinated people to get the jab to help bring the pandemic to an end.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 26, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
An earlier version of this story quoted Neil Cavuto as saying some 3,000 people per day are dying of COVID-19 in the U.S., for a total of nearly 800,000. Actually, the number of daily deaths reported by Johns Hopkins University has been below 2,000 since Oct. 21, and its database gave the total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths as 741,231 on Oct. 27.