How many times do you hear a network worker insinuate in a not-too-subtle way that he “despises” the prime-time hosts on his network?
As I speak with one of those hosts on that same network in prime time?
This isn’t the first time Rivera has grumbled – without naming names – about the “vaccinated prick heads urging the unvaccinated to ‘fight for their freedom'” but I’m surprised to see that double. Everyone knows who it refers to; you’d think Fox management would tell him to let it go. Kudos to them for allowing him to say what he thought.
Who knows? Perhaps in private I agree with him.
He was back on Twitter last night before recording the Hannity show:
Nothing is more despicable than vaccinated commentators who urge their unvaccinated followers to fight (and die) for their freedom. It’s like the punk safe on the street pushing the guy on the windowsill to jump.
– Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) November 10, 2021
Watch the exchange below towards the end of the segment with Dan Bongino to see him underline the spot on Hannity’s face. I will say two things in defense of the pro-Hannity side of this debate. First, Sean is right that workers should be able to submit an antibody test that shows they have already had COVID instead of being vaccinated. Ultimately we don’t care if someone has had their shots, what do we care if they are immune and therefore unable (or at least at a lower risk) to infect others. This arrangement should be made for people with natural immunity, assuming it does not create major administrative difficulties.
Secondly, Geraldo’s point is mute in the abstract. One can be vaccinated and believe on principle that it is wrong to use economic power to force someone who is reluctant to do so to be vaccinated. It’s a bit like a military veteran who believes we shouldn’t have leverage. There is no contradiction in believing that X is good but X should not be mandatory.
What bothers Rivera and me, however, is the suspicion that it is not principle that drives theatrical opposition to mandates in the populist media, but self-interest. Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, all most likely vaccinated, could be vaccination evangelists for their audience, while remaining convinced that no one should be forced to do so. Instead, they devote much of their comments to either encouraging skepticism that vaccines work (Tucker) or hissing that healthcare workers need to give themselves an injection so they don’t infect their vulnerable patients (Sean) or actually promote alternatives. to vaccination such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine (Laura). While they never would, they are indulging the anti-vax sentiment among their core audience by telling them what they want to hear. This is the first rule of partisan media: reinforce the beliefs of the public even when they are wrong. Even when it is dangerous to their own health.
It’s the same reason Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott’s message on vaccination lately seems to be from a 10-part pro-vax anti-warrant. Hardly anyone of prominence on the right, including Trump, is anti-vax as it would be too irresponsible to openly discourage people from getting shot. The most you can do as a “responsible” governor or news host eager to curry favor with populists for electoral or financial reasons is to be what we might call adjacent anti-vax. Obsessed with warrants, you spend all your time railing at them, fighting tooth and nail by all legal means, and then whispers softly, “But maybe even think about getting vaccinated.”
If Carlson were out there every night saying “I’m vaccinated and here are several reasons why you will benefit from vaccinating, but I don’t think you should be forced to”, I think Geraldo would respect him. (He should respect that, at least.) But as it stands, it’s the cynically evil selfish motive, not the anti-mandate position itself, which I think you find repulsive. Who can blame him?