Right-Wing Media and GOP Have Blood on Their Hands for Covid-19
Misinformation People are dying unnecessarily, and it's a crime, with a
list of suspects that shouldn't surprise anyone.
July 16, 2021 by Chicago Tribune
These recent headlines tell the story of a crime:
"COVID-19 infections are rising again in parts of Illinois."
"US COVID-19 cases rising again, doubling over three weeks."
"Covid-19 cases are surging in 46 states."
Hospital beds in Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and a number of other
states are again filling up with COVID-19 patients, a crisis that was
entirely preventable. Virtually every American hospitalized right now
with COVID-19 is unvaccinated.
People are dying unnecessarily, and it's a crime, with a list of
suspects that shouldn't surprise anyone: Fox News talking heads
attacking medical experts, Republican lawmakers stirring doubt about
vaccines and social media companies allowing vaccine disinformation to
overwhelm sound medical advice.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released an unusual advisory Thursday
labeling health misinformation an "urgent public health threat," calling
it "one of the biggest obstacles that's preventing us from ending this
"Today, we live in a world where misinformation poses an imminent and
insidious threat to our nation's health," Murthy said from the White
House. "Simply put, health misinformation has cost us lives."
We've heard this anecdotally throughout the pandemic, even before
vaccines were available. A father who believed rhetoric coming from the
former administration that the coronavirus was no worse than the flu and
wound up on a ventilator, then in a grave. A mother who bought into
foolish claims that face masks threatened our freedoms before falling
ill to the virus, spreading it to others and spending weeks in intensive
Then came the vaccine, safely and swiftly driving down the number of
infections. With that success came the noise of right-wing opportunists
eager to politicize the very act of getting a vaccination, to cast a
nefarious cloud over the current administration, as it's the one now
responsible for taming the pandemic.
At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, the audience
cheered feverishly when a speaker noted that President Joe Biden missed
his goal of having 70% of American adults vaccinated by July 4.
Lauren Boebert, a cartoonishly absurd Republican representative from
Colorado, pranced across the CPAC stage like a country music singer with
a head injury, crowing "don't come knocking on my door with your Fauci
ouchie," referencing Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious
Newsmax host Rob Schmitt recently said on air: "I feel like a
vaccination in a weird way is just generally kind of going against
Fox News blabberer Tucker Carlson routinely sows doubt about the
efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, always under the cowardly guise of
"just asking questions."
"So maybe it doesn't work, and they're simply not telling you that,"
Millions of people take him seriously, and some of those millions are
refusing vaccines and surely adding to the list of the sick and dead.
At a recent fundraiser in Effingham, Illinois, Republican Rep. Marjorie
Taylor Greene fear-mongered the crowd of about 500 by rambling on about
"Biden's little posse that's gonna show up at your door, you know, that
intimidate you, they probably work for antifa by night and then they
come and intimidate you to take the vaccine by day."
She then said: "Well, you get to tell them to get the hell off of your
On Tuesday, the Nashville Tennessean reported: "The Tennessee Department
of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach—not just for
coronavirus, but all diseases—amid pressure from Republican state
The report also noted that "the health department will take steps to
ensure it no longer sends postcards or other notices reminding teenagers
to get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccines."
COVID-19 cases in Tennessee have more than doubled over the past two
In Florida, presently among the worst places in the nation in terms of
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths per capita, Gov. Ron DeSantis
decided this would be a cute week for his campaign to start hocking
"Don't Fauci My Florida" T-shirts and beer koozies.
This is all profoundly stupid, wickedly irresponsible and—because
numbers, unlike right-wing squawkers and politicians, are incapable of
Many dance gingerly around this subject, not quite wanting to "go
there," but I will: The lies spraying from the mouths of these fatuous
lunkheads are leading Americans to the grave. They are causing
unnecessary deaths. These frauds have blood on their hands.
They are hurting families, prolonging the pandemic and thus damaging the
economy, and putting us all at risk of vaccine-evading variants that
might bubble up from waves of new infections.
Assisting these mopes are social media platforms like Facebook and
Twitter, which amplify misinformation and make it nearly impossible for
regular Americans to sort fact from fiction.
Of the Big Tech companies, Murthy said: "They've allowed people who
intentionally spread misinformation—what we call disinformation—to have
extraordinary reach. They've designed product features such as 'like'
buttons that reward us for sharing emotionally charged content, not
accurate content. And their algorithms tend to give us more of what we
click on, pulling us deeper and deeper into a well of misinformation."
We're watching Americans die needlessly when there's a safe and readily
available vaccine. It's beyond dumb.
Please talk to vaccine-skeptical friends and loved ones, present them
with sound information and plead with them to pay heed. Be careful what
you share on social media, and push back hard on tech companies that
profit off the swift spread of misinformation. They must do better.
As far as the rhetoric goes, I'll say this: There's nothing about
anyone's politics or choice of news sources that would ever make me want
them to die.
But if your politicians and news sources are actively putting you at
risk, it might be time to ponder just who they're looking out for.
Because it's certainly not you.