"Dirty Jobs" star Mike Rowe recently reprimanded a reporter who dragged him through the mud online over his stance on vaccines.
In a hit piece published last Friday by the Bulwark — an anti-Trump independent news and opinion site — editor Jonathan Last twisted and distorted recent remarks made on Facebook by the television personality to make it seem as if he was lying to the American people in attempt to "discredit vaccines."
In the salacious article, headlined "Mike Rowe's Dirty Lies," Last charged Rowe's perspective on the coronavirus vaccines as "an example of despicable dishonesty or breathtaking stupidity."
Yet in the Facebook post, Rowe — who is both vaccinated against the coronavirus and a proponent of vaccines, general — merely said that he is not in the business of encouraging everyone to get the vaccine, especially considering the lack of credibility public figures in America have demonstrated over the course of the pandemic. People ought to be free to assess the risks and make their own decision.
Seems reasonable enough, right? No, according to Last, who prefers to place people in one of two camps: either in favor of vaccines for everyone or in opposition to vaccines for anyone. There is no room for nuance or discussion.
But Rowe didn't take the shots lying down. In a follow-up Facebook post on Sunday, he defended his stance against the lies, point by point.
What did he say?
"Along with 'despicable dishonesty and breathtaking stupidity,' I'd like to offer a few additional options for your readers to consider," Rowe wrote:
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."
Then he got to the heart of the issue, which is the lack of trust many Americans have toward their political leaders — a lack of trust which they have earned through their actions, he argued.
The point I was trying to make, is that half the country has lost faith in our most important institutions. We have a massive credibility problem, exacerbated by powerful people who not only moved the goalposts time and time again, but championed the same restrictions they chose to ignore. In my view, this steady drip of hypocrisy helped foster a deep level of mistrust among millions of unvaccinated Americans. If you really need specific examples, just google "COVID-political-hypocrites." Those are the people to whom I refer, and they are legion.
"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," Rowe said. "Toward that end, I'm not comfortable telling people the vaccines are 'perfectly safe' when the FDA has yet to approve them."
As it pertained to the vaccine's efficacy, Rowe suggested the following:
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.
Again, seems reasonable enough. But not to Last.
In a parting shot, Rowe said, "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?" He continued with this:
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," concluded Rowe. "What was the point of yours?
Summing up the happenings nicely was commenter Victoria Robinson, who wrote: "Dear Mr. Reporter Dude, you just got 'Mike Rowed.'"
"You may not have enjoyed it, but I know I sure did," she added.