Today’s carnival hucksters are right-wing TV, radio hosts spreading fear and misinformation

Sometimes listening to the right-wing commentators can sound like a visit to the State Fair. Each one trying to gather a crowd at a game, with a promise of something seemingly impossible: “Lookie, lookie, lookie! The miracle cure, hydroxychloroquine!”

“Hey there folks! Have you heard of the magical tonic called Ivermectin?”

“Here’s your winner! Just inhale this mist of hydrogen peroxide, and it will fix you right up!”

Seems like every month, another quack “cure” for COVID-19 makes its way through the talk radio/fake news midway, attracting crowds of the easily conned.

For shorthand, I will use the term coined by carnies of old who referred to their potential customers as “marks.” In those days, a lot of carnival games were rigged — or “gaffed” — so the player was always losing but also always coming “so close” to winning. The mark would always be given false hope that, with just one more try, they could win the big stuffed bear or the shiny transistor radio or whatever else that was displayed.

But those prizes were never going to leave the booth.

These modern-day marks are looking for a fast, down-and-dirty cure for COVID, especially anything that doesn’t involve any actual science or anything endorsed by the government. But each new “cure” is just another gaff, and when it doesn’t work, up pops another one: “This one is a sure winner!”

The marks buy these lies, because the lies are being spouted by people like Sean Hannity and Alex Jones and others who feed their marks whatever fits with the narrative of the right-wing at the moment. Whether it is The Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump or conspiracy theories about the wildfires in the west being caused by Jewish space lasers, it is all meant to deflect from the reality the rest of us live in.

The marks are living in their own reality, and it’s one filled with fear and distrust. What’s more, it is bolstered by a stubborn pride in being ignorant: “Why should I trust all them danged doctors and scientists?”

Those marks are the same folks who refuse to get the COVID vaccine, which is proven to protect against COVID-19 and which millions of people have received and have benefited from without adverse side effects. What’s worse is that because these marks refuse to get vaccinated, the pandemic is being prolonged, and the rest of us, who believe the science and got vaccinated, are still having to wear face masks and social distance.

A sad reality is that almost all of the COVID cases cramming into our over-stressed hospitals are people who refused to be vaccinated. Even worse, some of them are being pulled from ICU beds and taken home by their families because they want to use the latest “miracle cure” on them, and the hospitals refuse to go along with their delusion.

It would be easy to just say, “Well, let the marks suffer. It’s not like there weren’t free vaccines available at every corner drugstore or county health department. Heck, there is even a booth at the State Fair where they are offering free vaccinations!”

But the problem with that easy answer is they are not just a danger to themselves. They are breeding grounds for new variants and potentially are infecting their families and friends. Additionally, they are a hazard to anyone they come into contact with, since it seems mostly the unvaccinated refuse to wear masks!

This whole crazy scenario is taking a toll on people who need emergency treatment for reasons other than COVID. In our state, a gunshot victim had to wait more than a week for surgery. In Florida, a patient with metastatic brain cancer, who needed emergency radiation treatment, was turned away because there were no beds available.

So where is this going to end? Frankly, I don’t know.

I do know that at some point enough of the marks will die off or become sick enough that there won’t be an audience for the hucksters anymore. The bad thing is, that unlike losing a few bucks trying to win that big stuffed bear, they will be facing huge medical bills and maybe funeral costs.

On a brighter note, the State Fair of Texas is open. Wear your masks and enjoy it — but only if you are vaccinated. I’ll be there myself at some point.

After all, I have lived almost two years without a Fletcher’s Corny Dog!

That is reason enough to get vaccinated in my book!