Longtime former CBS anchor Dan Rather, who was forced to resign from the network after falsely reporting about George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, questioned whether it was "responsible" to show advertisements during the Super Bowl that featured large gatherings of people not wearing masks.
The disgraced media figure appeared to insinuate that Americans aren't intelligent enough to make decisions for themselves about their health and safety in regards to the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting they need even commercials to promote mitigation measures such as mask mandates and social distancing in order to understand the risks.
"Is it responsible having commercials showing people gathering in large groups without masks?" Rather tweeted.
Is it responsible having commercials showing people gathering in large groups without masks?— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather)1612744348.0
Minutes later, he added, "Am I the only one watching the halftime show and thinking "contact tracing?"
Am I the only one watching the halftime show and thinking “contact tracing?”— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather)1612748419.0
In response to the first tweet, some of Rather's followers agreed with him and expressed similar concerns over the ads and over the whole spectacle, in general.
"No, [it's not responsible]," answered one commenter. "The whole game, production, & commercials were in an alternate universe. Very unsettling & hard for my teen to watch when her social life has been restricted for almost a year now."
Another added, "The whole thing is irresponsible, 25k people in the stands, star QB walking in with no mask, and Florida has the rapidly spreading variant, Americans value sports over lives."
Several others, however, were noticeably put off by Rather's suggestion.
"Everybody, everywhere i go, people are wearing masks. The whole world knows to wear a mask. Please [sic] dont make me watch commercials with people with masks on. They are commercials. If anybody watches these and thinks it's ok to go out without a mask may God help them," one commenter wrote.
"I'm legitimately worried by those in this thread saying it's irresponsible to show commercials with people not wearing masks, as though we only know how to conduct ourselves by mimicking those in commercials," another said. "They probably think M&M commercials led to cannibalism."
Another suggested that if showing maskless people in commercials is irresponsible, then we ought not to have commercials showing people enjoying alcohol since that too is dangerous.
It should be noted that approximately 22,000 fans were allowed to be in the stands for the game on Sunday night, 7,500 of them being vaccinated health care workers invited as guests of the National Football League. In addition, 30,000 cardboard cutouts were placed inside the stadium to help ensure social distancing.