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‘Strap In. It’s A Doozy’: Mike Rowe Blasts Critic Who Bashed Him On Vaccines

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Mike Rowe discusses "Returning the Favor" with the Build Series at Build Studio on February 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

On Sunday night, Mike Rowe slammed criticism from a writer who castigated him in a piece titled “Mike Rowe’s Dirty Lies,” which can be read here.

The “Dirty Lies” piece featured writer Jonathan Last ripping Rowe after a response Rowe gave when asked why he had not urged his audience to get vaccinated, despite having been vaccinated himself. Rowe responded, “Vaccines have saved more lives than any other advancement in the long history of medicine, and to your point, I got the shots the minute I was eligible. But I’m not a doctor, Steve, and even though I occasionally play one on TV, I’m not inclined to dispense medical advice to the people on this page.”

Rowe continued:

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!

Last wrote in his attack on Rowe, “Rowe’s response is worth reading in full because it is either an example of despicable dishonesty or breathtaking stupidity.”

Rowe replied in a 3,800-word response to Last’s piece:

Along with “despicable dishonesty and breathtaking stupidity,” I’d like to offer a few additional options for you readers to consider. How about, “a refreshingly honest take on a controversial issue,” or “a thoughtful series of observations wrapped in a patina of common sense,” or maybe, “a brilliant blending of facts and inconvenient truths that leave the skeptical reader with much to consider.”

He added, “Can you imagine the resistance to a vaccine today, if Donald Trump told Americans to simply ‘get the jab and trust the science?’ It seems to me, if you want to persuade the unvaccinated to reconsider their hesitancy, you must first put yourself in their shoes, and acknowledge a few of the reasons for their skepticism.”

Last snapped in his piece, “We flattened the f***ing curve, Mike. And because of that, we saved a lot of lives.”

Rowe answered:

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.

Last defended Dr. Anthony Fauci: “One more thing: By June, Fauci was admitting that he soft-peddled masks in early March because he was trying to keep people from hoarding them at a moment when the public wasn’t in danger and didn’t need them, but front-line workers were and front-line workers desperately did. Maybe you’re okay with the noble lie and maybe you’re not. But the fact is that people were hoarding them at the time. And if this episode discredited Fauci for you for all time, then there are myriad other health officials who can and have verified the vaccines’ efficacy.”

Rowe fired back, “No, I’m not okay with a noble lie, or an ignoble one. Neither are millions of other people, who would prefer to hear the truth. Toward that end, I’m not comfortable telling people the vaccines are ‘perfectly safe’ when the FDA has yet to approve them. As I said, ‘there is risk in everything, and I find it unpersuasive to pretend otherwise.’ As for the vaccine’s efficacy, I could not have been clearer. My exact words on the matter – which you also omitted – were these”:

At this point, I’m afraid the government has but one course of sensible action – get the FDA on board, stat, and then, provide an honest, daily breakdown of just how quickly the virus is spreading among the unvaccinated, versus the vaccinated. No more threats, no more judgments, no more politics, no more celebrity-driven PSA’s, no more ham-fisted attempts at public shaming. Just a steady flow of verifiable data that definitively proves that the vast, undeniable, overwhelming majority of people who get this disease are unvaccinated.

Last:

You know who pushed the idea of “herd immunity” over and over? The COVID deniers and anti-vaxxers. Those people. Those people who wanted to hold “chickenpox parties” for COVID instead of trying to mitigate the spread. Those people who kept insisting that no measures were needed to combat COVID because herd immunity would save us. Those people who declared we should just follow Sweden’s example and fast-forward to herd immunity. Those people whose medical advice in March of 2020 was “Get it. Get immunity. Feel better. The herd triumphs.” Mike Rowe is taking irresponsible bull**** from the bad guys and ascribing it to the good guys in an attempt to discredit them.

Rowe:

Good guys? Bad guys? How shall I respond? With links to Nancy Pelosi, encouraging people to celebrate the Chinese New Year, cheek to jowl? Or Gavin Newsom, dining mask-less with his pals? Or Laurie (sic) Lightfoot, getting a haircut when no one else was allowed to? But what’s the point? This is the problem, Jonathan. You’re stuck in a gunfight. White hats and black hats and nothing in between. The point of my post, which you’re working very hard to ignore, is to acknowledge the undeniable fact that millions of Americans see the country exactly as you do – Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. And guess what? No one sees themselves as the Bad Guy. In the words of Dave Mason, “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”

The issue at hand is how to persuade vaccine-hesitant Americans to reconsider their hesitancy. I propose we first acknowledge the reasons they distrust those in power and tell them the truth. You seem determined to dismiss their concerns and tell them their mistrust in our institutions is unjustified. With respect, I don’t think that’s going to work.

Last: The people who maintained over and over that COVID-19 wasn’t real, that it was an exaggeration, that it was a media conspiracy to hurt the Orange God King—many of those people now won’t take the vaccine because it has been administered by the new administration.

Rowe:

How then, do you explain this, from the CDC. “Black and Hispanic people remain less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine, leaving them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads.” https://bit.ly/2VA9Cs7 Weird, right? Did all those Black and Hispanic folks worship the Orange God King too?

Last: If Mike Rowe doesn’t want to encourage people to get vaccinated, that’s his right. That’s his privilege. But to go out in public and misrepresent recent history in an attempt to discredit vaccines is reprehensible.

Rowe:

What’s reprehensible, and cowardly, is your attempt to mischaracterize what I wrote, and deliberately misinform your readers. If I really wanted to discourage people from getting vaccinated, why would I admit to getting vaccinated myself? And why would I write the passage you deliberately omitted? Here it is again, lest your readers forget it. “Vaccines have saved more lives than any other advancement in the long history of medicine, and to your point, I got the shots the minute I was eligible. – Mike Rowe.”

Last: Rowe says he wants people to make their own decisions. Great. I celebrate everyone’s choices. But they should make them without Mike Rowe lying to them about the real things which happened in the real world.

Rowe concluded: I’m happy to let the readers make up their own minds about who’s telling the truth. But let’s be clear about what you’ve done with your little slice of the Internet. You have ignored the point of my original post, omitted key passages regarding my actual position on vaccines, written a damning and fallacious headline, and picked a fight with a guy who just reminded six million people that the overwhelming majority of Americans currently hospitalized with COVID have not been vaccinated. Oh yeah, AND told them that he got the shot as soon as he was able. That was the point of my post, Jonathan. What was the point of yours?

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