Writing for The Washington Post this Tuesday, Paul Waldman contends that while most of the preoccupations of the conservative culture war are relatively harmless, right-wing media promoting fears about the coronavirus vaccine might literally get its viewers killed.
"After spending a year telling its viewers that the pandemic was overblown and simple public health measures were a dire threat to their freedom, the network shifted to attacking the vaccines once President Biden took office," Waldman writes. "They regularly air anti-vaxxers claiming the vaccines are worthless or worse, and one host after another questions whether people should be taking them, despite the evidence that they're extraordinarily effective."
Approximately 42% of Republicans said in a recent poll that they probably or definitely would not get the COVID-19 vaccine. That poll was conducted by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The most prolific disseminator of vaccine skepticism is Fox New host Tucker Carlson, Waldman says, who continually overblows safety and efficacy concerns about the shot, which pushes his viewers in the direction of vaccine refusal.
"Now they see liberals scolding them for not wanting to receive a vaccine," Waldman writes. "A Democratic president is begging them to do it. They're being asked to do something not only to protect themselves but to help others in a communal effort, something to which they have an ideological aversion; if you see wearing a mask at the grocery store as a horrifying imposition on your 'freedom,' you won't like being told to get a shot or two so we can reach herd immunity more quickly."
Making matters worse, the Republicans leaders they look up to either reinforce their fears about vaccines or simply stay silent. Combining all these factors has resulted in poll after poll showing significant numbers of Republicans saying they won't ever get vaccinated.
Read the full op-ed over at The Washington Post.