The other day we looked at a report indicating that vaccine hesitancy among Black and Hispanic Americans was declining rapidly. The flip side to that story was that roughly one-quarter of white Republicans and evangelical Christians were still firmly in the camp of those with no plans to be vaccinated. It sounds like word of that survey made its way to the Oval Office because Joe Biden reportedly has a plan in the works to get more of these conservative white folks to roll up their sleeves and take a chance on getting jabbed.
But how do they plan to break through with these white, Christian communities? By running PSAs and enlisting spokespeople to promote the safety of the vaccines right where they live. But where might that be? The answer was obvious. They’re targeting NASCAR, country music television stations and the Christian television show The 700 Club. Oh, and also Deadliest Catch for some reason. Could you have possibly come up with a more stereotypical approach than this? (Western Journal)
NASCAR, country music television, “Deadliest Catch” — these are some of the ways the Biden administration is trying to reach out to groups unwilling to take the COVID-19 vaccine, including “white conservative communities,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“We’re looking for a range of creative ways to get directly connected to white conservative communities. We won’t always be the best messengers, but we’re still trying to meet people where they are but also empower local organizations,” Psaki said Tuesday at a White House news briefing.
Psaki’s statements were part of her response to a reporter who asked what the Biden administration was doing to get more Americans confident in the vaccine, citing a New York Times story about Mississippi struggling to get its residents to sign up for immunization.
I know we’re all supposed to curb our impulses to play the “If a Republican Did This” game, but give me a break here. NASCAR? The Grand Ole Opry? Television ministries? This is just about as tone-deaf as if they’d run their vaccination outreach promos for Black and Hispanic communities mingled in with advertisements for Popeye’s Chicken and Taco Bell.
I’ll grant you that NASCAR is popular, particularly in the south, but it’s not as if all conservatives are hooked on it. Personally, I haven’t watched an actual motor race in as long as I can remember. And while there are several country artists I enjoy on occasion, I’m primarily a classic rock kind of guy. I’ve never seen the 700 Club, though I’ll confess to having watched the first couple of seasons of Deadliest Catch before I grew tired of it.
There’s another reason that this approach shouldn’t be bet upon as a slam dunk. Particularly when it comes to conservatives in this country, Biden is dealing with a group of people who have long since grown tired of being lectured by celebrities and millionaire athletes about their politics or policy preferences. In fact, many have been rebelling against those messengers and the fields they come from. Look no further than the tanking ratings of the NFL and the Hollywood awards shows for proof.
Trotting out Joey Logano (yes, I had to Google that just now), Carrie Underwood or Pat Robertson to talk about how excited they are to go get vaccinated probably isn’t going to start a stampede toward the vaccination pods. If you really want to boost confidence in the target audience you’re chasing, perhaps you could instead focus on having medical professionals provide briefings where they don’t continually move the goalposts on everything from efficacy levels to herd immunity percentages and actually promote policies that line up with the results of the latest and most comprehensive medical studies. Whatever happened to “follow the science?” If you want us to do what you’re asking, win the argument with irrefutable facts rather than what you view as politically palatable messaging.
Or maybe you’ve actually got this issue pegged after all. I’d write more, but there’s a rerun of Deadliest Catch coming on in a few minutes.