The Federalist recently published an article which flagrantly argued that for Christians, dying from COVID-19 “is a good thing.” And that was just the latest in the outlet's dangerous pandemic coverage, which has undermined the vaccine rollout and suggested COVID-19 protections are anti-Christian, dangerous, and discriminatory.
The recent article, published October 18, positioned COVID-19 precautions as an attack on Christianity in an effort to undermine the gravity of the pandemic. Written by Joy Pullmann, executive editor at the Federalist, the article condemned churches pausing services out of precaution and claimed that doing so “contradicts numerous clear commands of scripture.” Pullmann further suggested that Christians must “individually and corporately … repent” for pandemic safety guidelines that interfered with worship and thus “betrayed Our Lord.”
Media Matters has repeatedly identified The Federalist’s pattern of pushing COVID-19 denial and advocating reckless behavior when it comes to public health. In the early months of the pandemic, the outlet even suggested that “controlled voluntary infection” was a solution to ending the pandemic. Later on, it asserted that “without a real coronavirus vaccine, herd immunity is our only hope” -- a claim that has been debunked by the scientific community and would result in millions of deaths before the herd immunity threshold could be reached.
Brazenly inaccurate and socially irresponsible, The Federalist’s spread of COVID-19 misinformation serves only to prolong the pandemic by minimizing its risks and undermining the efficacy of standard coronavirus protections.
In addition to the recent article, here are some of the worst narratives The Federalist has peddled in its crusade against public health measures since the COVID-19 vaccine became available to the public earlier this year.
Painting COVID-19 protective measures as dangerous and discriminatory
The Federalist has attacked COVID-19 protective measures of all kinds, spreading baseless claims that undermine public health initiatives:
- Senior contributor Jonathan S. Tobin compared vaccine mandates to racist Jim Crow laws because mandates “discriminate against minorities.” Tobin claimed that because of relatively lower rates of vaccination among Black Americans, vaccine mandates will effectively “ban most black people from the public square.”
- A September 2 article claimed that wearing face masks can cause damage to one’s health through reduced oxygen levels, “activating a whole-body stress response.” The claim that mask wearing reduces oxygen levels has been debunked by the American Lung Association.
- In August, the Federalist posited that COVID-19 lockdowns could kill more people than the disease itself, arguing that “draconian” lockdowns can cause spikes in suicide and substance overdose.
- After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines in July to recommend vaccinated Americans wear masks due to the highly contagious delta variant, the Federalist accused the CDC of “nagging” Americans and “sowing doubt about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.”
- The Federalist published a piece written by some doctors who fearmongered that college vaccine mandates endangered students. The article referred to the vaccine as “an experimental biological agent,” which posed a “greater risk of harm” to students than COVID-19.
- Another article from the Federalist claimed that vaccine mandates pose “a nightmare” for individuals trying to get pregnant, pushing the unfounded claims that fertility could be affected by the vaccine.
Suggesting that vaccines and other COVID-19 protections are anti-Christian
The Federalist has leveraged Christianity in its opposition to COVID-19 protections, attempting to cement pandemic safety measures as another flashpoint of the culture war:
- An October 11 article urged Christian leaders to speak out against “vaccine coercion,” claiming that “the Bible clearly opposes abusive mandates” and they will “destroy the livelihoods of healthy Americans and subject their children to poverty."
- The outlet also published another piece titled “If Christians around the world can face death for their faith, Americans can go to church,” advocating for Christian Americans to continue attending church services amid the pandemic. The article also claimed that Christians should “believe truth is still worth dying for.”
Amplifying vaccine skepticism and refusal
The Federalist has repeatedly provided a platform to individuals refusing to comply with vaccine mandates and amplified and encouraged vaccine skepticism:
- After NBA players Kyrie Irving and Jonathan Isaac spoke publicly about their choice not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine despite the basketball’s league requirements, the Federalist heralded them as the “most cogent and principled defenders of liberty, common sense, and basic civic decency in America."
- The Federalist published a round-up of various groups of people around the country “using the power of protest to send a message” against “draconian” vaccine mandates. The article also asserted workplace vaccine requirements were attacks on the working class as “companies were lording their firing power” over their workers.
- George Mason University professor Todd Zywicki was profiled on the outlet after he spoke out against the university’s vaccine requirements for faculty and staff. The Federalist framed Zywicki’s case as a “blueprint” for others trying to circumvent “anti-science COVID-19 policies” as Zywicki received a medical exemption from the vaccine mandate after he argued that his natural immunity made vaccination unnecessary. Though antibodies from a previous infection can defend against reinfection, experts still recommend receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for prolonged protection across coronavirus variants.
- The outlet featured country musician Travis Tritt because of his efforts in “calling for freedom” against vaccine mandates. The article also highlighted Tritt urging others to speak out against vaccine mandates because such supposed “injustices” can be defeated only “with a unified front against them.”