As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to gather momentum, there has been a particular shift in media focus towards those either refusing to be vaccinated, or those expressing various levels of “vaccine hesitancy.”
In March, The Associated Press-NORG Center for Public Affairs Research released a poll which declared that “40% of white evangelical Protestants said they likely won’t get vaccinated, compared with 25% of all Americans, 28% of white mainline Protestants and 27% of nonwhite Protestants.”
The Associated Press reported in early April that, “The findings have aroused concern even within evangelical circles. The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 local churches, is part of a new coalition that will host events, work with media outlets and distribute various public messages to build trust among wary evangelicals.”
Speaking with Jake Tapper on CNN, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg argued in favor of white evangelical Christians receiving the vaccine, saying “I guess what I would hope that they might consider is that maybe a vaccine is part of God’s plan for how you’re going to take care of yourself.”
Pete Buttigieg tells evangelical Christians that “a vaccine is part of God’s plan.” pic.twitter.com/3Sx3KsLr4R
— Ian Haworth (@ighaworth) April 12, 2021
In recent days, the legacy media have rallied around this specific demographic in an openly negative manner.
The New York Times published a piece titled, “White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort,” noting that “The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.”
The Associated Press reported that “Vaccine skepticism runs deep among white evangelicals in US,” the Baltimore Sun had a headline of “How white evangelicals’ vaccine refusal could prolong the pandemic,” while the South Florida Sun Sentinel went with “Florida evangelicals on vaccine: Right thing to do or mark of the beast?”
The tone used when reporting on the “vaccine hesitancy” of some white evangelical Christians is clear. However, this group is far from the only category to express significant levels of vaccine skepticism, and yet remains one of the primary targets of subjective scorn and derision.
For example, according to Pew Research, 33% of black protestants said that they will not get the vaccine in March 2021. In February, the Associated Press acknowledged that vaccine resistance “was found to run higher among younger people, people without college degrees, Black Americans and Republicans,” later adding that “Black Americans appear less likely than white Americans to say they have received the shot or will definitely or probably get vaccinated, 57% versus 68%.”
The Hill also reported in February that “41 percent of black adults aged between 18 and 44 said they will not get vaccinated.” This means that, according to this data, more young black adults exhibited vaccine hesitancy than white evangelical Christians.
Despite the data-based similarities between young black adults and white evangelical Christians, the coverage — if any — of such hesitancy or skepticism in the black community relied on a far more apologetic and far less judgmental tone.
The New York Times published a piece titled, “I Won’t Be Used as a Guinea Pig for White People.” Time Magazine wrote, “Fueled by a History of Mistreatment, Black Americans Distrust the New COVID-19 Vaccines,” while USA Today went with, “America has a history of medically abusing Black people. No wonder many are wary of COVID-19 vaccines.” The Washington Post even went with, “Black people are justifiably wary of a vaccine. Their trust must be earned.”
The issue here is not whether or not vaccine skepticism is founded or unfounded, or whether it is understandable or irrational. The issue is that the legacy media — when data suggests a “problematic” similarity between two groups — react by applying an additional layer of context to one group and not the other, allowing them — in this case — to criticize evangelical Christians while simultaneously defending black Americans for precisely the same behavior.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.
" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."