Newsmax's reporting on right-wing radio hosts who died of COVID mostly got one thing right: they reported that the hosts were major skeptics of COVID vaccines. Let's look at it did, shall we?
A July 23 article by Charlie McCarthy noting that radio host Phil Valentine was "fighting for his life" against COVID in the hospital quoted a family statement saying, "Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an 'anti-vaxer' he regrets not being more vehemently 'Pro-Vaccine.' ... Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!" The next day, an article by Charles Kim noted that Valentine was unvaccinated and that he had "said people that were not at a high risk were “safer” not getting vaccinated for COVID-19." An Aug. 17 article by Brian Freeman, though, tried to play that aspect down a bit, stating that "Although Valentine had publicly voiced concerns over the safety of the vaccines and was opposed to mask mandates, his family said he was never an 'anti-vaxxer.' However, he does regret not being more 'pro-vaccine,' and his family is urging his fans to get vaccinated." And an Aug. 21 article by Solange Reyner on Valentine's death did note that "Valentine previously expressed disagreement with mask mandates and the COVID-19 vaccine, writing in a blog post last December that he wasn't an anti-vaxxer but following logic in not getting vaccinated," and it also stated that Valentine's brother ">said his brother was regretful that he wasn't a more vocal advocate for getting vaccinated."
An Aug. 9 article by Eric Mack reported the death of Florida radio host Dick Farrel. But it was not until after Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said good things about him -- he had served as a fill-in host on Newsmax TV -- that it was mentioned that he was an anti-vaxxer, though Mack framed it by stating "Farrel's skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccines abated when he contracted the virus in his final days."
An Aug. 30 article by Sandy Fitzgerald on the death of another Florida radio host, Marc Bernier, acknowledged that "in recent months that Bernier had become an outspoken opponent of vaccinations," though it wasn't mention that Bernier had called himself "Mr. Anti-Vax."
Freeman was up front in a Sept. 14 article on the death of Colorado radio host Bob Enyart, stating in the lead paragraph that he had "urged his listeners to boycott coronavirus vaccines" and that "Enyart is the fifth anti-vaccine radio personality to die from COVID-19 in recent weeks."
Newsmax even published a Sept. 9 article by Peter Malbin on how Howard Stern "ranted against conservative radio talk show hosts who died from COVID-19 after promoting anti-vaccination views to their listeners," specifically taking Bernier to task for having "likened the vaccination drive to fascism in Nazi Germany."Malbin tried to give the hosts a pass, however, stating that "All four radio talk-show hosts who died this past summer were older than 60 and therefore more vulnerable to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And all lived and worked in two states, Florida and Tennessee, that have been particularly hard hit by the delta variant."
Newsmax didn't screw up this story, though it very well could have. Credit where credit's due.