Partway through his Thursday “A Closer Look” segment, Late Night’s Seth Meyers apologized for the amount of swearing heading viewers’ way. And, sure, some of that was on Meyers’ Mets, but mostly, his exasperated (if NBC-bleeped) profanity was used to punctuate his monologue’s deftly infuriated response to yet another growing trend among the right-wing and conspiracy-minded. That new fad sweeping the nation being the recklessly ineffective ingestion of a popular horse and cow deworming medication because the professional misinformers and assorted white supremacists at Fox News tell them to. “Fuck,” indeed.
Meyers first went after “comic book henchman,” Florida Republican governor Ron Desantis, who has been making the conservative media rounds blaming the current administration for not ending the COVID-19 pandemic, while himself acting as COVID’s most efficient accomplice, banning local mask and vaccine mandates in the state currently suffering under his thumb. That even though, as Meyers notes, Florida now has recorded over 3 million COVID cases, and is officially rationing both ICU beds and [checks notes] oxygen. Then there’s DeSantis’ Republican co-conspirator in Texas, Greg Abbott, who is similarly fighting common sense, civic-minded health measures despite himself just catching COVID, possibly at a defiantly maskless fiddle hoedown.
Still, Meyers’ real target was the “political coalition fighting against mask and vaccine mandates while pushing unproven miracle cures.” (Spoiler for the rest of this article—he means Fox News and much of the GOP.) Showing how the “scam artists” at Fox keep playing on their viewers’ victimization fantasies of those “miracle cures” being kept from a desperate, God-fearing populace by some shadowy “them,” Meyers played clips of Fox’s ever-mutating snake-oil salesmanship on behalf of every unapproved/lunatic/actual harmful hard-sell remedy. From malaria and lupus drug hydroxychloroquine, to Donald Trump’s favorites in household cleansers and, um, light, to that aforementioned horsey anti-parasitic paste, ivermectin, Meyers showed how the “trust your doctor” to “your doctor is keeping the real COVID cure from you for... reasons” pendulum swings wildly over there at Fox, depending on the day, and which political enemy Fox imagines will inspire viewers to smoldering (and lucrative) resentment.
Meyers held up Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt for claiming that the last-ditch COVID mitigation of DeSantis’ pet, expensive monoclonal antibody treatment from Big Pharma giant Regeneron is “basically the same as getting vaccinated.” (Oh, one of DeSantis’ largest political donors is heavily invested in said treatment.) Meyers noted that both emergency defibrillation and taking your doctor-prescribed heart medication might both keep you alive, but one is really only for the last extremity, and that Fox figures like Earhardt are literally killing off their most vulnerable (and gullible) viewers with their nonsense.
One might ask what the endgame is here in Fox and other right-wing media outlets urging violent distrust of an actual, scientifically proven vaccine while pushing a series of easily disproven snake-oil cures that put their all-too-eager acolytes at mortal risk. Meyers zeroes in on that “they,” showing how Fox doesn’t even bother to maintain an internal logic in its “upside-down world where nothing matters,” except sticking it to that imaginary “they.” It’s about fostering division and distrust, even at the expense of human lives and—more to Fox’s mercenary interests—a disproportionate number of their viewers.
In summary, Meyers swatted away this latest ivermectin craze, noting how, in Mississippi, 0ver 70 percent of poison control center calls now come from people who’ve gone to the local feed store and swallowed livestock-grade amounts of the veterinary drug in the parking lot. (Texas reports a 550 percent spike in ivermectin-related poisonings since Fox jumped on the worm-killing horse-paste train.) Meanwhile, the myriad health clinics, pharmacies, and pop-up roadside injection sites offering the free (and FDA approved) COVID vaccine are going begging in areas where the Fox misinformation flu has really taken hold. (And Fox News personalities are carrying their own “vaccine passports” around the office while railing against such measures for their
rubes viewers.) It’s enough to make a late-night host use up his network swear allowance all in one, 12-minute segment. Fuck.