In recent weeks the Delta variant of COVID-19 has spread rapidly through communities of unvaccinated Americans. That means, of course, that mostly red state and Republican areas are suffering the worst of the viral spike. Consequently, there has been some significant movement among some conservative politicians and pundits who were previously loathe to make any positive comments about vaccines or the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Among those who were praised in the press was Sean Hannity of Fox News. Earlier this week Hannity told his vaccine-hesitant viewers to “Please take COVID seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died.” It wasn’t actually a call to get vaccinated. It was more like a legal disclaimer to do research and make your own decision. Which is a position that would make Captain Obvious blush as being way too apparent to anyone with a pulse.
Setting aside the undeserved credit Hannity received, he affirmed his stance against the benefits of getting vaccinated in a segment on Thursday night. Hannity delivered an extended refutation of the media reports that he previously might have said something marginally intelligent and responsible about vaccines. He certainly couldn’t let that stand. So he devoted a couple of minutes to denying that he ever did something so ludicrous as to advocate on behalf of preventing people from suffering long and painful illness and death.
The fact that Hannity felt it necessary to make absolutely sure that no one thought he would ever stoop to recommending a life-saving vaccine tells you just how committed he is to perpetuating the pandemic, and how afraid he is of alienating his anti-vax audience. He said that…
“I never told anyone to get a vaccine. I’ve been very clear. I am simply not qualified. I’m not a medical doctor. I know nothing about your medical history or your current medical condition. I think it’s inappropriate for me to do so.”
How thoughtful of Hannity to clear that up. We wouldn’t want anyone to mistakenly believe that he cared about the public welfare. But even more helpful was his admission that “I am simply not qualified.” That’s objectively true. However, it’s an admission that doesn’t apply to just his medical credentials, or lack thereof. Hannity also has no qualifications for any of the subjects he pontificates on nightly. He’s a college dropout who rose through the ranks of radio shock jocks to land a spot on Fox “News.” He isn’t an expert on economics, or the military, or health insurance, or climate science, or government ideology, or education, or immigration, or labor, or last but not least, journalism.
Nevertheless, Hannity gives extraordinarily half-baked (if that) advice on all of those matters. and all of his ill advice comes with blatantly biased, ultra-rightist slants. More often than not his advice consists merely of infantile insults aimed at Democrats, liberals, and other ideological foes.
Regarding his pandemic punditry, Hannity claims to be pro-science. However, he has spent much of the last year insisting that the coronavirus was either a hoax, a glorified flu, or a Democratic plot to hurt Donald Trump – who also lied about the virus being a hoax, a glorified flu, or a Democratic plot. For his trouble, Hannity succeeded in contributing to the pandemic’s death toll. A study last year found that higher rates of coronavirus fatalities could be directly linked to watching Sean Hannity.
What’s more, Hannity’s COVID coverage surely had an impact on his Republican audience. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that “Ninety-three percent of Democrats say they either have been vaccinated or definitely or probably will do so; that plummets to 49% of Republicans.”
So while about half of the Republicans who are likely Fox News viewers remain opposed to getting vaccinated, and thus, susceptible to getting infected, Hannity felt compelled to assure everyone that he isn’t advocating vaccinations for anyone. And that’s based on his being unqualified to have an opinion, which is, in point of fact, an opinion.
But if he’s going to bother bringing up the issue on his program, he surely knows that he could book an actual expert and let that person advocate for getting the shot. However, that would require Hannity caring about people, rather than just image and ratings and Trump love.
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