Newsmax host: Isn't it sort of unnatural to use vaccines to stop a new virus from wiping out lots of people?

Part of me feels grudging respect for a guy who’s willing to go on national television and riff on the topic of whether we’re disrespecting Gaia by declining to let her slaughter us en masse.

Someone should get him going about old-school vaccines for diseases like smallpox and measles. I’d watch the hell out of a Newsmax special that tried to square conservative opposition to abortion with a laissez-faire approach to the sort of preventable infectious diseases that used to kill millions of kids in infancy. A mother shouldn’t have the right to choose to end her child’s life — unless it’s Mother Nature. Survival of the fittest.

I assume this clip is Newsmax’s attempt to stay on brand. Their brand is being the more populist alternative to Fox, but Fox has gotten so vaccine-skeptical on Tucker’s and Ingraham’s shows that there isn’t much populist space left to their right for the competition. The only available stance is “maybe we should be rooting for the virus.”

Even the guest is questionable, claiming at the end that natural immunity is preferable to vaccine immunity. That’s not true based on what we know right now, and even if it proves to be, the potential complications from trying to gain immunity the old-fashioned way are more dire than any side effects you might have from the shot.

But we should expect more segments like this, if not quite as nutty. Now that the feds have hit the “vaccine wall” and need to push harder to convince holdouts, prominent populists are pushing back harder too. Some of that is about signaling tribal affiliation (they know there’s a red/blue divide here even if some Republicans don’t want to admit it), some of it is simple “if experts say X we say ‘not X'” pseudo-logic, some of it is spite over having had their early claims that COVID wasn’t dangerous proved wrong in the worst way. Add it up and we get the Newsmax guy plus crap like this:

Another prominent populist who was pro-vaccine as recently as two years ago, when it was a liberal cohort driving disease in California, has conveniently reversed herself lately:

CPAC, the flagship political event of activist conservatives, showcased a famous anti-vaxxer, Alex Berenson, at its event this past weekend. “If you have constant exposure to an outlet that is raising vaccination hesitancy, raising questions about vaccinations, that is something to anchor you in your position that says, ‘I’m not going to take the vaccine,’” said one communications professor to the Times about the burst of messaging lately in righty media catering to already vaccine-skeptical Republicans. Whether any of it is sincerely intended to discourage vaccination rather than merely affirming that vaccine hesitancy is the “Us” position relative to “Them,” I don’t know. But that’s the effect. Some people who consume this media and who might have been brought around to protecting themselves if they were exposed to better information are going to end up dying or killing others or both.

And a disproportionate number of them may end up being Newsmax viewers. “Among Republicans who watch Fox News, 45 percent said they were hesitant or unwilling to get a Covid-19 shot, compared with 68 percent of viewers who watch the niche right-wing news channels Newsmax or One America News Network,” the Times reported today, citing a PRRI survey from April.

Here’s Dick Durbin, singling out Tucker and Ingraham today in a speech. All this is going to do is reinforce the tribal lines.