American Plagues: Covid and Congressional Conspiracy Theorists

CNN’s Chris Cuomo believes Republicans dropped the ball by refusing to vote on censuring Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for the range of wild conspiracy theories she promoted before — and after — taking office.

No surprise, Fox News Host Sean Hannity believes the exact opposite. He said Greene’s voters had every right to elect her, and thinks Democrats have a double standard when it comes to conspiracy theories touted by their own members.

(CN) — CNN’s Chris Cuomo began Wednesday evening’s broadcast by contrasting the drama among House Republicans on whether to censure two members — Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — and conspiracy-theorizing newcomer, Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Fox News Host Sean Hannity meanwhile took digs at newly appointed Climate Czar John Kerry for jet-setting around the world to save the planet from climate change.

Moving on, Hannity called Congressman Adam Schiff “America’s number one conspiracy theorist,” which is pretty rich in light of his defense of Greene less than a minute later. To Hannity’s credit, he did call Greene’s wild statements “untrue,” though he still refused to rebuke the woman who made them.

It’s all a conspiracy

Cuomo reported House Republicans voted late Wednesday on whether to strip Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney of her GOP leadership role for voting with Democrats to impeach former President Donald Trump. They also had to decide whether to boot newly elected Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia from her committee assignments, though they ultimately declined to do anything — leaving the matter up to House Democrats.

While neither member ended up being censured, Cheney took most of the flak from her colleagues and her vote was closer than many expected. Greene, on the other hand, received a standing ovation despite her public support for every unhinged conspiracy theory under the sun.

Cuomo listed a small sample of the nonsense promoted by Greene: Anything and everything Q-Anon related, Jewish space lasers that set California on fire every year, school shootings that were faked by gun control advocates, and naturally, 9/11 being staged by the U.S. government. That’s who many House Republicans decided to praise tonight – but not without their reasons.

Trump may have left the White House, but he still maintains a strong hold over members of Congress interested in pandering to his base. Greene has been a vocal supporter of Trump, and he has returned the favor in kind — leaving many in the GOP afraid to speak out against her for fear of reprisal by Trump devotees when they come up for reelection.

Q-Who?

Hannity doesn’t believe Greene should be censured, period, and thinks doing so would be a slippery slope. He pointed to a few Democratic members of Congress who espoused views that are similarly controversial in Republican circles, some controversial in most circles, and said the same standards must be applied across the board.

For example, Hannity cited Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s not-so-subtle claim in 2019 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel” and her claim that Jewish influence in America is “all about the Benjamins,” referencing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby. She also publicly downplayed the plight of 9/11 victims by saying Muslims in America were unfairly targeted after that tragedy merely because “some people did something.”

Hannity questioned why none of these or other members of Congress have been censured, rebuked or stripped of committee assignments by their party for their own unsubstantiated claims. Despite disagreeing with those representatives, Hannity says the voters in their districts had every right to elect them – as did the voters of Greene’s district in northern Georgia.

“I don’t agree with Maxine Waters getting reelected every year, but that’s up to the people in her district,” Hannity taunted. “It will not end well politically for some of the Democrats’ own radical members and full-on conspiracy theorists.”

Variants and vaccinations

Cuomo worried the Covid-19 situation may begin to deteriorate again despite growing numbers of people getting vaccinated. New, more contagious variants of the virus are spreading across the country even as many Americans have become desensitized to the various safety measures, so there’s a real risk case numbers could begin to creep up again.

He also pointed out that the very groups most affected by the virus, particularly Black and Hispanic people in essential jobs that can’t be done from home, have so far received the fewest vaccinations per capita among racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

“I think these variants will become the dominant strains in this country, it’s just the way it goes. If you have something that’s more transmissible it crowds out the other circulating coronavirus,” CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta told Cuomo. “Even if the new variant is less lethal, it’s more likely to get into vulnerable communities and that’s why you’ve got to vaccinate those communities first.”

Cuomo and Gupta assured viewers the vaccinations are safe. Gupta noted no one died among the 75,000 people in the vaccine trials, and explained that all of the vaccines should also protect against the newer, more transmissible variants.

Captain planet

Hannity reveled in mocking newly appointed Climate Czar John Kerry, the former secretary of state under Obama, for flying around the world in a private jet to promote clean energy.

Kerry, whose catamaran must be in the shop this week, explained when asked by an Icelandic reporter: “If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle,” apparently without realizing how funny that sounds. Hannity chalked Kerry’s statement up to arrogance and condescension which, OK, fair enough.

Climate change is among the most pressing issues facing the planet today, and it needs addressing, but you don’t address it like that. Greta Thunberg absolutely had the right idea here. Hannity believes Kerry is insulated from the plight of working people so he feels safe promoting policies that may cost them their jobs, but Hannity strays into dishonesty by ignoring the numerous clean energy jobs and new opportunities that will be created to offset those that become obsolete.

An incredibly wealthy politician buzzing around in a private jet is almost never the best messenger for something like this. But that doesn’t mean the message is wrong.

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