WILL CAIN (HOST): How much of the current yelling about COVID vaccinations can be attributed to simple, dumb, stupid, shallow partisanship? Most. I was this past week once again making the mistake of listening to local Dallas sports talk, which is increasingly a mechanism for me to receive my daily dose of liberal politics. But old habits die hard, and I'm always up to try once again to try to get some sports talk on my favorite teams. But I was listening to a columnist, who I've heard for quite some time, talk about vaccination rates in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and across the sports landscape. And the comments largely reflected the comments on vaccination rates we see in our mainstream news media, and that is enlightened. People are vaccinated and dumb people are unvaccinated. Unvaccinated people are dying. And it's Fox News' fault. The entire conversation comes down to the idea that people out there are very, very stupid. They can't make decisions for themselves and they get their brain poisoned by, quote-unquote, misinformation on Facebook or from right-wing grifters. There's not the slightest possibility in any of these commentators,' either news or sports, mind, that people are making up their own minds.
First, let's have an honest conversation about the COVID vaccine and why people are or not making their choices. First of all, there is misinformation about the effects of the vaccine on social media. I don't think I've seen any misinformation on the Fox News Channel about the vaccine. But right now, our conversation has been reduced into questions about the necessity, questions about mandates, questions about passports, questions about show me your papers, questions about children, reveal you to be an anti-vaxxer putting hashtag get vaxxed or Joey is vaxxed with Moderna in your social media profile makes you enlightened. That's where we are today on social media, in the media, and to some extent in society. And most of it has nothing to do with science but has everything to do with partisanship. That's what almost every culture war over COVID has become over the past year. I mean, if you think about our fights over masks, over lockdowns, over outdoor transmissions, over vaccines, over vaccine mandates, over vaccine passports, so little of it has to do with science. Oh, don't get me wrong, science is called upon like the great god of truth in every moment. But how does that explain people like Kamala Harris saying when Donald Trump was president that she wouldn't take the vaccine and today saying that you are incredibly irresponsible if you haven't taken the vaccine. Did the shifting and presidency shift the efficacy, the science of the vaccine, or did it shape your political partisan worldview?
Because when I hear a sports commentator talk about Fox News poisoning the brain of people or feeding a misinformation about the vaccine, I don't think that has anything to do with science. I think that has everything to do with partisanship and even more to do with how little they think of you. I don't mean me. Of course, they don't think much of me because I work for Fox News, but how little they think of you out there and your ability to make an informed decision, the insinuation is you can't think for yourself. You have no individual circumstances that you want to work yourself through. Have any questions about the side effects, any underlying health conditions you might have or hey, did you have COVID already? How long do your antibodies last? No questions, no interest in that. Just the indictment that you're a rube and you've been led astray by right-wing grifters. No questions are allowed about the fact that still just emergency use authorization, no questions allowed about the fact that Big Pharma has complete liability immunity on the vaccine. No time for you to do your individual risk-reward -- you owe it to society. You owe it to their partisan virtue to show them that you will fall in line, that you will fall in with the herd, that you will do what they do because that's what satisfies their partisanship.
Now, see, here's what could happen, maybe will happen: Some mouth-breathing while partisan at a place like Media Matters or MSNBC can take what I just said and say, Will Cain advocates for you not to take the vaccine -- completely irresponsible, which is exactly not what I am doing. I've been honest with everyone. I've had the vaccine because I went through my own personal risk-reward analysis, just like you hopefully will do. It's clear the vaccine helps to some extent preventing infection, although we're starting to see more and more breakthrough cases and certainly helps on the severity of infections. It's reduced the number of hospitalizations and the mortality. On the other side of the token, there are completely healthy people, be they young athletes, or be they young children in school who are under no real risk should they get infected with COVID. So therefore, should they take a vaccine that's still under emergency use authorization? Put this calculation that any of you and I would do and they would do, too, if it came to any other aspect of society driving to the store without a seatbelt on, going cliff diving, whatever exists in your life in a conversation with your doctor on potential treatments, if you were sick, you would go through a risk-reward analysis, as would they. But that right now makes you a troglodyte. That makes you an anti-vaxxer, at least in their minds. And what it reveals that they are is not more enlightened than you, is not more virtuous than you, not more devoted to science than you, they are simply the loudest cow in the herd. They are mooing very loudly that they will not tolerate your questions. They will not tolerate your risk-reward analysis. They are unthinking and stupid. They are simply mooing loud for everyone else to follow the herd. And any maverick that strays off, they all sit there and moo together about how irresponsible and stupid that person is with no knowledge of that maverick's individual circumstances, facts, and risk-reward analysis.
Steve Krakauer, who's a media critic I've spoken about in the past and publishes a media newsletter you really should check out called First Watch, had a really good tweet about this mooing herd of cows. He tweeted, It's hard to quantify how absolutely corrosive it has been to watch our medical, quote-unquote, experts, government leaders, and media leaders be completely wrong when it comes to COVID flailing at every twist and turn and yet have remained totally free of humility and introspection. He's so right. How many times could they be wrong? How many times? Outdoor masking, masking in general, children getting the vaccine, children in schools, economic lockdowns, COVID origins, and not one -- not one of those mistakes, which quite honestly have come on almost a monthly basis, has dented their certainty in the slightest bit. No, it is only increased their condescending attitude towards anyone who neglects to follow them down that rabbit hole of mistakes. If you do not moo with them, if you don't follow the herd, well, there are some insults coming your way. And this is all just shallow, shallow partisanship.
By the way, it's so fascinating to talk about the concept of partisanship because it doesn't work anymore. You know, Republican, Democrat, really left, right, conservative, and liberal. Tell me how these apply to where we are in this country right now, like when we're talking about whether or not COVID came from a lab or a wet market. How does that work? How do you find a Democrat or Republican position on the origins of COVID? How about like economic lockdowns before a year ago? Was that a left or right issue? I thought it was American issue. Generally, you do not want to shut down small businesses and force them out of business. How about shutting kids out of schools? I didn't know. I didn't know that was a left-right thing. Even, hey, America is systemically racist and racist to its core. That wasn't a Democratic talking point eighteen months ago. Like partisanship, this was -- this is about fundamental values, it's not about partisanship, it's not about politics, it's not even about science. This is about whether or not we're allowed to be free-thinking. Individual decision-making risk-reward calculating, tolerant people in the society who derive our value and identity from somewhere other than simply being better than someone else on social media.
Candice Owens, of The Daily Wire, she had a really good tweet about this. She said can anybody point me to that one time in history where the side that was demanding censorship, segregation, propaganda, racial education, papers to move freely in society, plus government forces going door to door to demand compliance -- speaking of vaccines here -- were the good guys. Can you remind me of a time in history where the people advocating for all of those policies and make no mistake that they are -- were the good guys.
Forget left or right, forget politics. Forget Democrat and Republican. Let's talk about values. Since when was a total lack of tolerance for questions independence? Free speech, integration, not viewing each other through the prism of race, or vaccine mandates, a left-right Republican-Democrat proposition, when did we become this? When did these values become partisan, but quite honestly, and I don't even want to use the word Democrat, I think left is a more accurate identifier. At this point, the left has internalized its identity politics, its virtue-signaling nature to such a degree that it always has to be on the hunt, on the search for a new issue and a new person to be the bad guy to be better than.
Masks wasn't about science, masks was about being better than someone else. Lockdowns were not science, they were not political. That was about the complete inability to understand risk and veering into the world of paranoia and mental illness. The sudden championing and hectoring and making a social pariah of anyone who chose not to get vaccinated isn't about science. Again, it's about vindication. It's another opportunity to project onto someone else your own superiority. It's a way to paint the world as left and right, Democrat and Republican. And if you're on the right, then you are wrong. If you're on the left, then you are the good guy. In the story in their head, but it doesn't work that way in the real world, Michael Tracey, who is an independent, not conservative but freethinking journalist, has pointed out that there are several counties across this country where vaccination rates don't follow partisan lines. For example, he tweeted, Woodford County, Kentucky, primarily a Trump County. Trump carried it. Adult vaccination rate 71%. Berkshire County, Massachusetts, heavily Biden, adult vaccination rate 51%. So there's a left county whose vaccination rate is well below a right county. Now, I'm not here to tell you the vaccination rates among Republicans are equal to that of Democrats. They are lower. But partisanship can't simply explain all of our behavior. If it did explain to me this, vaccination rates in this country are in total, about 47% of American adults are vaccinated. White Americans, 47% vaccinated. Asians, 62%. Hispanics sit lower at 39% vaccination rate and Black Americans even lower at 34% vaccination rate. I'm curious, are those Black and Latino unvaccinated individuals, big Sean Hannity fans? Are they plugged into Fox News? Has Facebook scared them away, right-wing grifters scared them from the vaccine? Or are they going through their own risk-reward analysis? Is it partisanship or is it that we've arrived at the point where everyone at this point has had the ability to gather their information, assess their own individual circumstances, and decided whether or not to get vaccinated?
You don't have to think so little of everyone. You don't have to assume they're stupid or they've been led astray by a bad Facebook post. Or Fox. You might just consider they've done their own analysis that you, Dallas sports commentator, have no idea about, but your partizan condescending worldview constantly moos at them to get in with the herd.
At this point, I think it's fair and responsible to say everyone pretty much in America has the opportunity to get vaccinated if they want. And everyone in America has access to information to help them make an informed decision on whether or not they as individuals should get vaccinated. And from that point at which we've arrived, it's time for us to move forward. It's time for us to put this pandemic behind us return to normal. It's time for us to take off the masks. It's time for us to open up all the restaurants. We do not return to lockdowns. We open up the stadiums and we play sports and look, for lack of a better word, we let her rip because everyone who has not gotten vaccinated understands the risk-reward they are taking. They understand what happens if they get sick. And everyone who is vaccinated also understands the risks, both of the vaccine and of getting COVID. But if we keep playing this game of the next stage on which we can't partisanly project virtue or superiority upon each other, if we keep playing this game of zero risk tolerance, if we keep playing this game of making every aspect of this pandemic political, we are in for never-ending lockdowns. We're in for never-ending masks. We're in for the never-ending pandemic because it's a never-ending opportunity to feel better about yourself and a never-ending source of power for Democrats. Treat people as adults, trust them to make their decisions, protect the vulnerable. Make life adjustments and choices if you are that person, but at this point, everyone is making their own risk-reward choices and it's time to live with those choices and it's time for America to move forward.