Syndicated cartoonist Jeff Stahler nailed it:
“If Fox News was around in the ’50s, we’d still be fighting polio.”
As sure as Sean Hannity is smarmy, we’d be into our fourth generation of children in leg braces.
Experts still would be trying to convince certain segments of society that Jonas Salk is not a stalking horse for the Red Chinese.
To be certain, broad swaths of society would be fully protected as they are today, fully vaccinated and living in an age where medical advancements are venerated.
Then there would be people who trust Tucker Carlson over those who know what they’re talking about.
For them, it’s 1954 all over, and over.
That’s when children like me started lining up to receive the life-saving, non-politicized serum that spared arms, legs and lungs from catastrophe.
If Fox News were around then, we’d have seen Carlson, Hannity and company throw shade on it, causing too many to roll the dice with children’s welfare.
Sure, lots of factors are at play, but Fox News is a key player in how respective rates of vaccination appear to match up with the partisan divide and electoral results of the 2020 election.
We can’t even blame Donald Trump, who recommends getting the shot. Too bad it’s not with the gusto that he brought for hydroxychloroquine.
Carlson has led the innuendo brigade in the pandemic, whether the issue be masking or state restrictions or vaccination.
Like Trump himself, Carlson is the classic know-it-all who knows squat but keeps squawking.
His shtick is to raise questions that sound like assertions – the “what if . . . ?; the “what about . . . ?” Carlson rarely has anything substantive around which to build an argument.
Like so many physicians, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta is a hero of the pandemic. He does an amazing dual service of informing the public about public health needs and calmly conveying urgency.
Generally he remains dispassionate when passions fly. Hard to do so on this subject.
Of loud voices like Carlson’s, he said, “Instead of continuing to build a knowledge tree (about COVID-19), we’ve had to continuously fact-check and correct misinformation.
Dating back to the origins of the pandemic, lives have been lost because politicians encouraged by talking heads took the virus so much more lightly than reality demanded.
So, yes, the level of seriousness related to this public health crisis looks a national portrait in red and blue, at the moment reflected in high levels of vaccine hesitancy in dependably red states.
One cannot discount the role of a predictably propagandistic political arm in the events it “reports.”
One commentator observed, and I must agree, that if Fox News were around during Watergate, Richard Nixon would have served out his second term.
If Donald Trump could get away with inciting a bloody riot at the Capitol building and broadcasting his love to poor, misunderstood terrorists, Nixon could have gotten away with a lot more than he did.
Back to science: What crucial developments could Fox News' talking heads have undermined in bygone days were they around to mock, minimize and influence viewers? The development of penicillin? The incandescent light bulb? The moon shot?
Yes they could, and yes they would, as Fox News and its right-wing cousins, NewsMax and One America News Network, are fashioned today not to seek truth and probe evidence but to please an audience that’s not interested in truth or evidence.
It’s very fortunate that back in the ’50s we venerated scientists – you know, smart people who study evidence — far more than charlatans with a lot of hair.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.