[Marc] Bernier was at least the fourth talk-radio host who had espoused anti-vaccine and anti-mask sentiments to succumb to the virus in August. There was also Phil Valentine, 61, a popular host in Tennessee; Jimmy DeYoung, 81, a nationally syndicated Christian preacher also based in Tennessee; and Dick Farrel, 65, who had worked for stations in Miami and Palm Beach, Fla., as well as for the conservative Newsmax TV channel.
All four men had publicly couched their opposition to mainstream public health efforts in the typically hyperbolic and sometimes paranoid rhetoric of conservative talk radio. Farrel, for example, called coronavirus mitigation efforts “a scam-demic” and described the government’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, as “a power-tripping, lying freak.” At one point earlier this year, DeYoung, host of the “Prophecy Today” program, asked a guest whether the vaccine rollout could be “another form of government control of the people.”
“The vaccine isn’t the problem. Talk radio is,” said Jerry Del Colliano, a professor at New York University and publisher and editor of Inside Music Media, which covers the radio industry. Radio companies, he said, “are risking the health of their audiences even as anti-vaxxer bloviators continue to die.”