A Fox News segment on COVID-19 policies, captured by Media Matters, shows how hard Fox is working to find a reason to be offended by President Joe Biden and efforts to properly deal with increasing COVID-19 infections.
First up, the Fox host complains about Biden not wearing a mask at the podium after recent exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 (that person being Dr. Jill Biden). The fact that Biden announced he had just passed a test showing that he’s not infected did nothing to cut Fox’s scorn.
Then Fox turned to right-wing newspaper The Washington Examiner, where an op-ed warned against the return of mask mandates, saying they have “no scientific justification” and are “an unwarranted intrusion on individual liberty.” The editorial called on legislators to act quickly to prevent schools from instituting mandates.
Then things were capped off by Fox contributor Steve Hilton, whose expertise on COVID-19 consists of having spent the past three years trying to tear down any protective measures, no matter how innocuous. Hilton reliably fumed that “we are now back to these absurd, preposterous kind of witchcraft and voodoo masquerading as public health from these tin-pot fascists and their authoritarianism.” Hilton didn’t manage to squeeze in anything about underground pizza tunnels, or the real Declaration of Independence, but then again, it was a short segment.
Hilton named Sens. Rand Paul and J.D. Vance as inspirations for their efforts to create a law banning the return of mask mandates. In August 2021, Paul called mask mandates to control the spread of COVID-19 “anti-science,” and he previously introduced legislation to end mask mandates on planes. Vance has said that masks “failed to control the spread of respiratory viruses,” and is co-sponsoring a bill that would block any future mask mandates in schools or on planes. Which would seem to be … a mandate mandate. Perhaps someone else could introduce legislation with a mandate against those.
The truth is—and we’ve known this since early in the pandemic—masks work. Repeated studies have demonstrated that masks can be critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19 as well as other diseases. Surgical masks work. N95 masks work even better. What Hilton calls “voodoo” is actually science backed up by multiple, large-scale studies.
When Paul and Vance claim that masks don’t work, they’re not just spreading disinformation; they’re lying in a way that is hugely harmful to a large number of people.
At the end of his speed run through vague and inaccurate claims, Hilton declares that there should be resistance to mask mandates at the federal level, the state level, and “the local level, the individual level.” It’s easy for Hilton and those who listen to him to resist putting on a mask. Too bad that makes it much harder for them to resist getting a life-threatening disease.
Why does it seem like Republicans have such a hard time recruiting Senate candidates who actually live in the states they want to run in? We’re discussing this strange but persistent phenomenon on this week’s edition of “The Downballot.” The latest example is former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who’s been spending his time in Florida since leaving the House in 2015, but he’s not the only one. Republican Senate hopefuls in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Montana, and Wisconsin all have questionable ties to their home states—a problem that Democrats have gleefully exploited in recent years. (Remember Dr. Oz? Of course you do.)