Now that President Donald Trump is very belatedly taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, his cheerleaders in the right-wing media are coming around to a similar view, but, for weeks, they were pushing a very different story, and it may have cost people their lives.

Bloviators like Fox News commentator Sean Hannity and talk-radio titan Rush Limbaugh told their viewers and listeners that the novel coronavirus was no worse than a bad cold and that the threat was being wildly exaggerated by Democrats and the mainstream media in order bring down the American economy and, thereby, hurt Trump’s reelection prospects. Fox Business anchor Trish Regan asserted that the virus hype “is yet another attempt to impeach the president.”

Now, Regan has been taken off the air, temporarily, and Hannity has cooled his jets, but the damage has been done. A recent poll shows that Republicans have been dramatically less likely than Democrats to believe the frightening facts about the pandemic. They may be understanding the hard reality now, but how many of them failed to take lifesaving precautions up to this point? How many of them became ill? How many died?

It would be nice to think that the dangerous mendacity of Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk has now become obvious to their followers; that those people will reject the propaganda-for-profit con game of the right-wing media. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for self-delusion.

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