That we live in a country where it’s controversial and supposedly worthy of rebuke to suggest that people are free to make their own healthcare choices should be a point of shame. Unfortunately, it’s a point of pride for far too many, including those over at The Bulwark.
The left-wing funded site has long garnered more press attention than its traffic demands (they may do enough traffic to actually pay for one writer from the metrics I see), and that happened again when an attack on Mike Rowe went viral. His great sin? Suggesting that it’s not his place to preach the religion of COVID vaccinations.
“Mike Rowe—the famous real man, dirty-jobbing, tough guy—is trying to pioneer a new lane in political discourse: anti-anti-anti-vaxx.” https://t.co/0pW6jfjxp2
— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) August 7, 2021
I’m not even going to bother quoting the piece itself as I have no desire to give them a click. JV Last has shown himself to be a terrible person and that’s probably the extent to which he deserves a response at all.
Still, Mike Rowe decided to return to Facebook and rebut Last’s article line by line. By the time he finishes, The Bulwark is under new ownership.
Mike Rowe went line by line responding to the recent hit piece from JVL: https://t.co/wHzTHFUSW4
When you write out of anger and try to caricature everyone who disagrees with you, you end up with some very weak and easily refutable arguments. (Ht @Bmac0507)
— AG (@AGHamilton29) August 9, 2021
Here are a few excerpts, though be warned, there’s a lot of text here.
JL: Rowe says the following: The fact is, millions of reasonable Americans have every right to feel confused and skeptical. Those people you refer to, Steve – the ones now telling us that we can “get back to normal just as soon as everyone is vaccinated” – those are the same people who said, “two weeks to flatten the curve!” Those are the same people who told us that masks were “useless” before they told us they were “critical.” Those are the same people who told us that a return to normalcy would occur just as soon as “the most vulnerable” among us were vaccinated. Then, just as soon as “half the population” was vaccinated. Then, just as soon as we achieved “herd immunity.” Those are the same people who told us they wouldn’t trust any vaccine developed under the last administration. Now, those very same people are belittling the skeptics.”
For a guy who makes his living pretending to be concerned with grubby details, this is a wildly, irresponsibly generalized set of charges. For starters, who are “those people”? No links here. No names. Just a vague, faceless assertion so he can’t be called out on facts.
MR: It was the original poster, Jonathan, not me, who said that we can “all get back to normal when everyone gets the shot.” He didn’t attribute that sentiment to any one individual, because he didn’t have to. It’s a widely held belief currently embraced by millions of Americans who affirmatively support a vaccine mandate. Check it out. https://53eig.ht/37sBWip
Obviously, I could have provided specific examples of people in power who favored lockdowns but went on to violate their own mandates, but I didn’t do that because those people are no longer the point. The point I was trying to make, is that half the country has lost faith in our most important institutions. We have a massive credibility problem, exacerbated by powerful people who not only moved the goalposts time and time again, but championed the same restrictions they chose to ignore. In my view, this steady drip of hypocrisy helped foster a deep level of mistrust among millions of unvaccinated Americans. If you really need specific examples, just google “COVID-political-hypocrites.” Those are the people to whom I refer, and they are legion.
JL: But the individual characterizations he makes of what “those people” supposedly said are at best misleading and at worst, patently untrue. Let’s go one by one.
“Two weeks to flatten the curve!” The idea of flattening the curve comes from late March 2020, when COVID was starting to run wild in the United States for the first time. The curve in question was the rate of new infections and the curve needed to be flattened because it’s increase was so steep that it was nearly an asymptote. The country faced a shortage of PPE and doctors hadn’t yet come up with best practices for treating patients. Had the rate of infection continued its geometric increase, not only would a higher percentage of COVID patients have died due to lack of adequate resources to care for them, but more non-COVID patients would have died because the healthcare system would have been overrun. The idea of “flattening the curve” was never about beating COVID, but about buying the healthcare system enough time to be able to treat patients optimally. And you know what? We flattened the fucking curve, Mike. And because of that, we saved a lot of lives.
MR: I agree. In just a few weeks, we flattened the curve, and we saved lives as a result. But what did our leaders do next? Did they say, “Good job! The curve is flat! Now let’s get back to work!” No. They extended the lockdowns and offered no benchmark as to when the restrictions would be lifted. To this day, we have no criteria as to how many deaths or how many infections or how many hospitalizations are acceptable. They could have told us the truth a year ago, which was more along the lines of, “Two weeks to flatten the curve, and then, an undetermined amount of time to keep it that way.” But they didn’t do that. They simply shut us down, ratcheted up the fear, and told us to trust the science. In short, they treated us like children, and that hurt their credibility.
This is correct, and you can almost feel Last squirming at someone daring to point it out. Health officials have lied to us. They have failed us. They have blown up their own credibility over and over. They have constantly moved the goalposts. It is not unreasonable to point out that their behavior has driven skepticism of the vaccine. In fact, it’s an extremely important thing to point out when talking about combating vaccine hesitancy to the extent one believes it must be combated.
And here’s Rowe responding to Last’s defense of Dr. Anthony Fauci, in which The Bulwark writer claims Fauci didn’t lie because he gave a “lawyered” response.
JL: “The same people who told us that masks were ‘useless’.” Again, it’s hard to find details about “those people” but I assume Rowe is talking about Anthony Fauci’s comments to CBS News on March 8, 2020 where he said the following: There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.
MR: You’re correct, Fauci’s contradictions were on my mind when I wrote that. So too, were his more recent comments regarding the lab leak, gain of function, and lots of other remarks that are now seen by millions of people as demonstrably false. https://bit.ly/3jvXznE But again, I didn’t mention his name, because Fauci is not going to be part of the solution. His credibility is shot, and nothing he says will convince the skeptics to rethink their skepticism. (Earlier today, he slammed the Sturgis Bike Rally as a potential super-spreader event, while saying nothing about Obama’s birthday bash, and Lollapalooza. That’s the real problem. His slip is showing, and that’s made him unpersuasive to millions.
JL: Let’s stipulate that much of the medical establishment was slow to understand that the primary transmission mechanism for COVID was aerosolization. But the point here is that even Anthony Fauci, in this big gotcha moment, didn’t say that masks were “useless.” He used a heavily lawyered construct—no reason to be walking around with a mask—which was true. Also, Fauci allowed that masks might block “a droplet” while warning that it wasn’t the “perfect protection” some people thought. Again: Both factually correct. Was Fauci perfectly and fully transparent here? No. But neither was he saying what Rowe says.
MR: Again, I didn’t accuse Fauci of anything. I didn’t even mention his name. But the fact remains, we have tens of millions of highly skeptical, vaccine-hesitant Americans who no longer trust him. I don’t have to prove or justify their skepticism – it’s real, and the numbers prove it. Forty percent of the country is unvaccinated. Honest question, Jonathan – do you really think those Americans will be persuaded to think differently about the vaccine, when guys like you rush to defend men like Fauci and his “heavily lawyered constructs?”
I’ll stop there because it just keeps going and going. If you have a Facebook account, you should be able to click the link at the beginning and read the rest, but the takedown only intensifies from there.
My final thoughts are simple: JV Last is a left-wing apparatchik who says what he says to garner that sweet, sweet left-wing cash. Whether he actually believes a word of his tortured defenses of the biomedical security state, I have no idea. But I know he lacks the self-awareness and intellectual honesty to have a fair debate on the matter.
His attacks on Rowe were completely misguided. Rowe does not owe anyone his time to preach the gospel of COVID vaccines, nor do the people who are hesitant care about such campaigns anyway. And that’s really the largest aspect of this I want to note. All this hand-wringing by Last, CNN anchors, and beltway politicians is not about actually persuading people to get vaccinated. Rather, it’s about making themselves feel good. This attack on Rowe was nothing more than an exercise in virtue signaling.
With that, I’ll reimpose my self-created ban on giving The Bulwark any oxygen. Rowe’s response was just too good to not share, though.