For the majority of Americans who have done the sensible and responsible thing by getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, their obstinate counterparts who reject the vaccine (and science) are a mortal threat. They are putting both the health of people and the nation’s economic health at risk. And the President, as well as the American people, aren’t having it.
On Thursday President Biden addressed this threat with both blunt language and substantive policy. His plan to increase the rate of vaccinations by, among other things, directing large companies to require that their employees either get vaccinated or have weekly tests would provide greater protection for the population at large. Predictably, this was met with scorn by right-wing politicians and pundits. Especially Fox News (who Biden called out in his speech) where they maligned Biden as a “tyrant” who “declared war on millions of Americans.”
Unfortunately, over at CNN there was additional criticism of the President from a rather bizarre angle. Jake Tapper hosted a segment (video below) wherein he complained that Biden was taking the wrong approach by “scolding” the unvaccinated. He characterized them as victims of the liars in government and the press. While it is true that Republicans, Fox News, and their confederates have been flagrantly lying to the American people, it is naïve to portray them as victims. They have the same access to the truth about the COVID pandemic as everyone else. They just willfully choose to believe what are easily provable lies. Nevertheless, Tapper had this to say about it:
“I don’t think scolding is the approach. There are these purveyors of misinformation out there, and they’re not just on the right. Robert Kennedy Jr. is one of the most notorious ones. And I haven’t seen the president or anyone say, look, people, like, he’s scolding the people that are being lied to as opposed to the liars.
“Instead of saying there are a bunch of people trying to get your money, trying to get you attention, trying to get your votes, trying to get your views and clicks, they are lying to you. Instead of shaming the liars and trying to educate the people being lied to, he’s scolding the people being lied to. And again, as with the election lie, you can get mad at the people who believe the lies, but the villains are the liars.”
Tapper is correct that there are “villains” who are lying to people and that they deserve to be castigated for their reckless and potentially deadly dishonesty. But that’s the only part he got right.
It was wrong to describe Biden’s tone as “scolding,” when it was, in fact, appropriately caring as he implored the resisters to do the right thing for themselves and everyone else. It was also wrong to pretend that there was some equivalence between the long-running, fringe, anti-vaccine campaign by RFK, Jr, and the establishment Republicans and conservative media who are exacerbating the problem.
Tapper also claims not to have seen anyone criticizing or “shaming the liars” who have misled the resisters. Really? There has been significant amounts of such criticism whenever someone at Fox News, or some self-serving Republican hack, has expressed their hostility to vaccines and the need to get more people to partake of them. Biden even addressed it in his speech on Thursday saying that, “to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.”
However, as guilty as the vaccine disinformers are of putting the nation at risk, the people who choose to believe them are not mere victims. They purposefully ignore and/or rebuke the truth about vaccines. They are hardened in their opposition to the facts, instead preferring to believe Facebook quacks, Fox News hacks, and political whacks.
Credible doctors, politicians and pundits have been trying for months to get the resisters on board. They’ve tried every type of persuasion imaginable, including education, appeals to compassion, profiles of resisters who died, and even cash rewards. If they haven’t been convinced by now, exactly what does Tapper think will finally convince them? Furthermore, isn’t Tapper’s position condescending to the resisters, implying that they are too stupid figure out that they are being lied to? While that may be true, how will it help his argument to succeed?
So yes, Tapper is correct about the guilt of those disseminating lies. But he is too easy on those consuming them. There is nothing remotely credible about Tucker Carlson’s paranoid ranting that vaccines don’t work and “they” won’t tell you. Nor are Sean Hannity’s efforts to plant doubts about the vaccine rooted in facts. But it is consistent with the rest of the rightist media that deliberately steers people away from life-saving guidance by medical experts. And the unvaccinated are not being forced to believe it. They a choosing to do so, freely.
Tapper might want to listen to Biden’s speech again and pay close attention to his appeal. Particularly this part that displays his empathy for all of the people of the country, and his genuine desire for everyone to be safe from the ravages of the pandemic:
“My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”
— Tommy moderna-vaX-Topher (@tommyxtopher) September 10, 2021
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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.