Dan Bongino to radio network: You can have me or a vaccine mandate but you can't have both

Via the Right Scoop, I disagree with Bongino on his policy preference but will give him one cheer for having the courage of his convictions. To my knowledge, he’s the first anti-mandate media personality to put his money where his mouth is the way Kyrie Irving just did in the NBA. Fox News hosts rail against mandates every day but no one’s threatened to quit (publicly, at least) over the network’s vax-or-test-daily mandate for employees.


Is this the start of the Great Conservative Media Walkout? Will Tucker join Bongino in taking his talents elsewhere to protest a company’s imperious insistence that their employees avail themselves of a free, safe, life-preserving vaccine?

His show today began this way…

…and led to this ultimatum:

I laughed to see that that was carried on Fox Nation, knowing Fox’s mandate policy. If Bongino lands on Carlson’s show tonight as the anti-mandate hero of the day, he should ask Tucker to join him in a solidarity strike. Strength in numbers!

He makes a fair point about kids suffering if a parent ends up being laid off for refusing to comply with a vaccine mandate but I’m sure we’d have a sharp difference in opinion over whether the company or the parent bears ultimate responsibility for that outcome. If resisting an FDA-approved vaccine that’ll keep you out of the hospital matters more to you than putting food on the table for your child, that’s your right as a mom and dad just as it’s my right to think you’re nuts. Here’s another outcome: What if the laid-off parent ends up catching COVID and dying because he or she refused to get the shot? Who’s putting food on the table for their children then?


Thousands of kids in that situation would like to know:

According to an estimate published recently in the journal Pediatrics, at least 140,000 American children had lost a parent or caregiver because of the coronavirus by the end of June—meaning that one of roughly every 500 children lost one of the most important adults in their life. Susan Hillis, a co-author of the study and an epidemiologist at the CDC, told me that as of earlier this month, the total had reached at least 170,000…

For children in particular, the death of a caregiver is tremendously destabilizing. “It essentially shatters kids’ assumptions about the world when their parents—these figures who are supposed to provide a sense of security and safety and meet basic needs—die,” Tashel Bordere, a professor of human development and family science at the University of Missouri, told me. Many kids who lost a parent during the pandemic will continue living in the same home, but some will move in with another family member or close friend. Others will enter the foster-care system or become homeless.

Given the number of adults who’ve gotten vaccinated reluctantly lately for fear of losing their jobs, it’s a cinch that some untold number of kids would have eventually been orphaned if not for their parents’ employer twisting their arms to get the vaccine. In fact, I’m sure it’s because nearly all parents place their children’s welfare above their own that companies with mandates have seen such an amazing degree of compliance among their workers. Having the boss tell you that you need to get vaxxed or get out won’t make you any more confident in the vaccine if you’re hesitant. But if the choice comes down to rolling the dice on the shot and having money for Christmas presents this year versus refusing and not having income for awhile, most moms and dads will do the right thing.


I wonder how normie Republicans would react if there really were some sort of conservative media walk-out by anti-mandaters who work for pro-mandate companies like Fox. MAGA would cheer, sure, but remember that most Republicans are vaccinated and a meaningful subset of those vaccinated righties are pro-mandate. Last week a YouGov poll found 19 percent of GOPers at least “somewhat approve” of Biden’s federal mandate, which is as much of a gut-check as Republicans can have on this question. The federal mandate is legally dubious and has been imposed by an unpopular Democratic president; a conservative looking for a reason to oppose it has all the political cover he could want. Even so, nearly one in five supports it. Democrats are watching that and wondering whether they might see some crossover votes next fall if Republican pols and righty media get more strident about opposing vaccine mandates:

Democrats say part of the reason they think the strategy could be successful is the sheer amount of anger among vaccinated Republicans. Lake, the pollster, said in her focus groups, vaccinated Republicans were far angrier than Democrats at unvaccinated Americans, even arguing for more punitive measures to be taken against them.

“Republicans would say if you go to the emergency room, you don’t get treated, you get to the back of the line,” Lake said. “And when we would push them and say that would mean people dying on the doors of hospital emergency rooms. And they’d say, well, they made that choice.”

Lake, who worked for Biden’s presidential campaign last year, said she thought vaccinated Republicans were angrier because they are more likely to encounter unvaccinated people in their daily lives than vaccinated Democrats.


It’s hard for me to imagine Republicans disgusted by Biden’s policies going to the polls in 2022 and voting Democratic to give the finger to anti-vax conservative politicians and media. But I don’t know — anti-mandate Republican governors like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis took a hit to their approval amid surges of COVID in their states. We’ll circle back next summer and see how vaccine resistance on the right is going when weighing whether it might matter in the midterms.

By the way, Bongino never explicitly threatens to quit. Some have interpreted him to mean that he’s going to stay on Cumulus’s airwaves and rip on them every day over their company’s mandate until they rescind it, not that he’s going to walk. But that’s hard to square with the ultimatum he gives in the video clip. They can have him or they can have the mandate. Pretty straightforward.

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David Strom 1:20 PM | July 18, 2024