Radio Host Erick Erickson Calls Anti-Vaxxers 'Idiots' After Relative Dies of COVID

Conservative radio talk show host Erick Erickson has called anti-vaccination activists "idiots" after a family member of his died from the COVID-19 virus.

During the Wednesday broadcast The Erick Erickson Show on WSB-AM, Erickson said that a healthy, unvaccinated relative of his recently died from coronavirus. The relative didn't have any comorbidities, like obesity or old age, that would've increased their risk of hospitalization or death.

Erickson said his relative's decision not to get the vaccine was influenced by anti-vaccination messaging. Erickson then called "organized efforts to undermine trust in the vaccines .... a deeply evil thing" and "a sin."

Erick Erickson COVID-19 anti-vaxxers anti-vaccination activists idiots
Conservative radio talk host Erick Erickson has called anti-vaccination activists "idiots" after a healthy family member died of COVID-19. In this photo, anti-vaccine mandate protesters demonstrate, on August 24, 2021, outside of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, to support the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act, a bill that would prohibit mandatory vaccinations, and vaccination status disclosures. Stephen Zenner/Getty

"Listen to this, you idiots," he said, referring to those trying to undermine trust in the vaccines. "What I care deeply about though is that some of you are scared of getting [the vaccine] because you've heard people on the internet lie to you and you don't know that they're lying."

"I don't care that you don't want the vaccine," he continued, "but if you're out there spreading lies and misinformation and disinformation and willfully undermining people's trust with a vaccine, I care about that a great deal."

In particular, Erickson directed his disapproval towards two different types of anti-vaccination activists. Foremost, he spoke out against anti-vaccination protesters who shut down a vaccination clinic in Georgia last weekend. The protesters harassed health care workers and people wanting vaccinations.

He also spoke against anti-vaxxers who have been repeating a recently-shared statistic that 60 percent of people in Israel hospitalized with severe COVID-19 were fully vaccinated.

The statistic was recently emphasized in an August 31 Washington Post op-ed by American mathematician Jordan Ellenberg. Anti-vaxxers have pointed to the statistic as proof that the COVID-19 vaccines don't work. However, Ellenberg pointed to the misleading statistic as an illustration of something called "Simpson's paradox."

"Simpson's paradox is a warning that the whole of the data often looks weirdly different than the sum of its parts," he wrote in his op-ed. While it's true that 60 percent of Israel's hospitalized COVID-19 patients are vaccinated, that high percentage is likely due to the fact that 80 percent of the country's eligible population is vaccinated, he explained.

"If everyone were vaccinated, then all hospitalized people would be vaccinated — and that obviously wouldn't mean vaccination was useless," he added.

Erickson is one of the most popular voices in conservative media. He also has a history of making inflammatory statements.

In the past, Erickson compared Linda Douglass, the White House health care communications director under President Barack Obama, to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Anti-vaccination advocates have also compared public health officials and COVID-19 restrictions to Nazis and anti-Semitic laws instated during the Holocaust.

In September 2014, he said that minimum wage workers over the age of 30 had "failed at life." Approximately 64 million Americans over the age of 25 work for minimum wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2017, Erickson signed the Nashville Statement, an anti-LGBTQ manifesto declaring homosexuality and transgender identity as being against God's plan. During Donald Trump's first presidential campaign, Erickson called Trump a "racist" and a "fascist" and said he'd never vote for him. Erickson later endorsed Trump's 2020 campaign for re-election.

Despite Erickson's past statements, in 2015, he told The Atlantic that he thinks conservative anger has grown "toxic and self-defeating."

"A lot of conservatives are now where liberals were after 2004—hysterically angry about things they have no business being angry about," he said.

Newsweek contacted Erickson for comment.