Why do 49% of Republican men surveyed in a Marist/NPR-PBS poll say they won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Presumably, these men would heed a cardiologist if they have heart trouble, an oncologist who spots “something concerning” in a lung x-ray, or an orthopedist who recommends joint replacement to deal with crippling arthritis. So why do they shun the evidence of physicians who spend 11 years learning to prevent and treat epidemics? Are they still in a cult-like trance, even though Trump was himself vaccinated?

Misinformation threatens to eat at the very core of our democracy. That poll squares with the numbers who say their primary source of news is Fox. Equally dangerous is the rot that social media propagates. As laments Martin Baron, former Washington Post editor, “people ultimately need to understand the difference between being informed and being affirmed. A lot of people want to be affirmed.”

Meanwhile, epidemiologists whose advice Trump ignored now say his administration’s failure to respond to the pandemic aggressively last year lead to a tragically high number of deaths.

Nor has the GOP found any backbone. Columnist Kathleen Parker writes, “today’s Republicans are the weakest, wimpiest, most pathetic crop of needy nincompoops in U.S. history.”

So how do we find the information we need to act rationally? Any GOP loyalists suspicious of CNN, which loves conflict of any political stripe, should try National Public Radio or the PBS News Hour. They honor the balanced presentation of news that is so crucial to a functioning republic.

Dave Griffiths, Mechanic Falls

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