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Peter Doocy learned nothing from getting Covid
You might think recovering from a mild case would open his eyes about the value of vaccines. Nope.
Fox News staffer Peter Doocy recovered from a bout with Covid — and immediately got back to work pushing anti-vax talking points in the White House briefing room.
If you entertained any hopes that Doocy had learned something from his personal ordeal, he immediately dashed them during Monday’s press briefing by asking Press Secretary Jen Psaki a question that embodied profound confusion about why it’s important to get vaccinated in the first place.
Doocy contracting and then recovering from what he describes as a mild bout of Covid might’ve opened his eyes to the importance of getting vaccinated — vaccines, after all, protect against severe illness — but he seems to have actually learned the opposite lesson.
“I understand that the science says that vaccines prevent death. But I'm triple vaxxed, still got Covid. You’re triple vaxxed, still got Covid. Why is the president still referring to this as a pandemic of the unvaccinated?” he asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.
While it’s true that the omicron variant is infecting fully vaccinated people at an unprecedented rate, Psaki tired to patiently explain to Doocy that unvaccinated individuals are much more like to end up hospitalized or dead.
“I’ve been triple vaxxed. I had minor symptoms. There’s a huge difference between that and being unvaccinated. You are 17 times more likely to go to the hospital if you’re not vaccinated, 20 times more likely to die,” she said, citing CDC findings. “So yes, the impact for people who are unvaccinated is for more dire than those who are vaccinated.”
As if to prove he didn’t get Psaki’s point, Doocy followed up with a question about if Biden plans to revise his now familiar talking point about covid being a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Psaki responded by pointing out that Biden has acknowledged there will be breakthrough cases, but reiterated “there’s a significant difference between being hospitalized or dying and being vaccinated with more mild symptoms.”
As I’ve detailed both on Twitter and in this newsletter, since Biden took office, Doocy has routinely used the White House press briefings to ask questions meant to undermine public health measures aimed at containing Covid. It’s gotten to the point where some journalists are wondering why Psaki continues to call on Doocy at all. And he did his credibility no favors with his line of questioning on Monday, which when you boil it down is a bit like agitating against seatbelt mandates because they don’t guarantee you won’t get hurt in a car crash.
But Doocy doesn’t have to take it from Psaki if he really wants to better understand why getting vaccinated is a smart idea. He could listen to his father, “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy.
Both Peter and his father contracted Covid during a Doocy family holiday gathering. But instead of returning the air and pushing anti-vax nonsense, Steve actually used the occasion of his return to “Fox & Friends” on January 6 to communicate the importance of getting vaccinated, saying:
In talking to my doctor yesterday about omicron and the you know, the thing about omicron is the vaccines have not been as effective with that as it was with Delta. And he said, Think about it this way, Steve. He said think of the vaccine as like wearing a kevlar vest. It is not going to – essentially what the kevlar vest is going to do. Is it going to stop a bullet, but it won't let the bullet kill you. And that's why people, that's why I trust the doctors. I trust the science. You know, it's the only game we've got right now is to get vaccinated and boosted. And unfortunately, this omicron is sweeping through the area. Yeah.
Unsurprisingly, Doocy’s co-hosts — Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade, both of whom have been among the loudest anti-vax voices on Fox — responded to Doocy’s comment by trying to undercut him, with Earhardt complaining that “every doctor you talk to has a different answer” and Kilmeade complaining that the need for a booster shot “is out of control,” citing an anti-vax doctor he heard on Joe Rogan.
So why Steve Doocy’s pro-public health message may not have gotten through, at least he tried. That’s more than can be said for Doocy the younger.
A GOP senator didn’t pay lip service to the big lie. Trump responded by going ballistic.
On Sunday, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) went on ABC’s This Week and offered what amounts to a Republican profile in courage these days by acknowledging the truth that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen from Donald Trump. Trump responded with an irate statement demonstrating anew that there’s no room in the modern GOP for people who won’t at least pay lip service to his democracy-destroying lies.
It’s worth noting that Rounds staunchly supported Trump during his term in office, voting with him 90 percent of the time — including against conviction following each of his impeachment trials — and even defended his blatant corruption and coziness with Vladimir Putin. But all of that counted for nothing as soon as he went on TV and called a spade a spade.
“The election was fair, as fair as we’ve seen,” Rounds told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, referring to the 2020 election. “We simply did not win the election as Republicans for the presidency.”
It’s not like Rounds disavowed Trump or called him a liar. On the contrary, he even indicated he’s open to supporting Trump again in 2024, saying “I’m going to support the Republican nominee.”
Nonetheless, on Monday morning Trump released a scathing statement that began by lamenting that “‘Senator’ Mike Rounds of the Great State of South Dakota just went woke on the Fraudulent Presidential election of 2020.”
“He made a statement this weekend on ABC Fake News, that despite massive evidence to the contrary, including much of it pouring in from Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and other states, he found the election to be ok — just fine. Is he crazy or just stupid?” said Trump, adding that “even though his election will not be coming up for five years, I will never endorse this jerk again.”
Trump’s statement doesn’t actually cite any “massive evidence” of election fraud, but that’s not surprising because there isn’t any. I could spent time debunking his various lies — I did a little of that last week when Trump commemorated the January 6 anniversary with a statement chock full of BS about the 2020 election — but considering how they were rejected time and time again by the courts, state election officials, and even officials within his own administration, the burden of proof is on him.
Trump has made very clear that he aims at purging Republicans who have the temerity to push back on his election lies. His rebuke of Rounds for acknowledging the truth in the mildest possible way serves as a warning to Republican candidates as we head toward primary season. Fall in line with his anti-democracy program, or be on the receiving end of one of his nasty statements. And since Trump remains overwhelmingly the most popular figure among the Republican base, getting on the former guy’s bad side can be a death knell for Republicans who, unlike Rounds, have to worry about winning elections sometime soon.
Rounds, for his part, responded to Trump’s screed by reiterating what he said on Sunday.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised by the former president’s reaction,” Rounds said in a tweet. “However, the facts remain the same. I stand by my statement. The former president lost the 2020 election.”
Jesse Watters gets promoted
Jesse Watters first made a name for himself doing ambush-style interviews for Bill O’Reilly, before O’Reilly lost his Fox News show amid a sexual misconduct scandal. Since then, Watters has taken heat for crude racism, making sexually suggested remarks about Ivanka Trump, shaming unhoused people, Islamophobia, reportedly harassing a reporter who was critical of him, allegedly having an affair with a producer of his, and pushing fake news and conspiracy theories so outlandish they’re a bit much even for Ted Cruz.
Less than a month ago, Watters made headlines for encouraging attendees of Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest conference to “ambush” Dr. Anthony Fauci and to “go in for the kill shot. The kill shot with an ambush? Deadly, because he doesn't see it coming.”
Fauci responded to those comments by saying Watters “should be fired on the spot.” Fox News promoted him instead.
On Monday, Fox announced that as of January 24 Watters will be the new permanent host of the 7 p.m. ET show preceding Tucker Carlson.
As CNN’s Oliver Darcy put it, “The installment of the flame-thrower Watters into the key time slot cements a strategy Fox initiated soon after President Donald Trump lost re-election: More right-wing commentary, less news.”
Sad as it may be, it’s likely that Watters’s new show will be a ratings success. As Fox News’s Brian Flood detailed in an article announcing Watters’s promoting, the two shows he’s currently associated with — “The Five” and “Watters’ World” — have huge audiences, with “The Five” averaging 3.3 million viewers in the fourth quarter of last year and “Watters’ World” averaging nearly 2 million viewers in its Saturday night timeslot.
So, as of January 24, Fox News’s primetime lineup will feature Watters, Carlson, Sean Hannity, and then Laura Ingraham. I need a drink just thinking about it.