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Murdoch receives COVID-19 vaccine as Fox News host casts suspicion on campaign

FILE PHOTO: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch leaves his home in London, Britain March 4, 2016. Murdoch wed former supermodel Jerry Hall in a low-key ceremony in central London on Friday, the fourth marriage for the media mogul. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

(Reuters) - Media baron Rupert Murdoch received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, a day before prominent opinion host Fox News’s Tucker Carlson raised suspicion over the marketing strategy for the vaccine.

The 89-year-old executive chairman of Wall Street Journal owner News Corp and chairman of Fox News’s Fox Corp received the vaccine at his local doctor’s office in Britain on Wednesday after being told he was eligible, a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.

On Thursday evening, Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” one of the highest rated shows on U.S. cable news, opened his show highlighting the case of a health worker in Alaska who suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccine and warned viewers to be skeptical of the “glitzy” public campaign.

“Even if you’re strongly supportive of vaccines, and we are, even if you recognize how many millions of lives have been saved over the past 50 years by vaccines, and we do, it all seems a bit much, it feels false, because it is,” he said on air about the marketing campaign. “It’s too slick.”

This month, the Trump administration launched a $250 million public education campaign through the Department of Health and Human Services.

The campaign was originally expected to include celebrity endorsements but those plans, which were created well before there was good news about a vaccine, were shelved after Democrats threatened to block the public funds from being spent on what they saw as a plan to boost Trump’s re-election effort.

Health experts have said that persuading large numbers of skeptics to accept protection from the deadly disease adds to the challenge of ending a pandemic that has claimed more than 307,000 U.S. lives.

“I would like to thank the key workers and the NHS (National Health Service) staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” Murdoch said in a statement, adding, “I strongly encourage people around the world to get the vaccine as it becomes available.”

Since the summer, he has isolated in the UK with his wife Jerry Hall Murdoch.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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