A conservative radio host in Nashville who derided vaccines and spread misinformation about the coronavirus has died of COVID-19. Phil Valentine was 61.
Though Valentine downplayed the efficacy of vaccines and even went so far as to record a parody song mocking them, he reversed his opinion while in the hospital, advising his family members to get the jab.
He had said of the vaccine, “I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He also said at the time that he had been taking the anti-parasite medication ivermectin, a drug that comes in different forms for animals and humans. The drug has recently been touted as a sort of COVID miracle cure by conservatives, despite no solid evidence it is effective against the virus and health officials sounding the alarm over people poisoning themselves with the animal version of the drug.
Valentine hosted a regular talk radio show on 99.7 WWTN-FM in Nashville. His station wrote in a statement, “We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.”
He had been on the air since the 1990s.
His brother Mark, appearing on the same station late last month, pleaded with listeners to take the threat of COVID seriously, saying, “For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories.’”
“Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon,” his family said in a statement after he was first hospitalized.
Before he fell ill with the virus, Valentine had spoken out against mask mandates and written a parody of The Beatles’ song “Taxman” called “Vaxman” mocking the preventative. He sang it on the air.
“Let me tell you how it will be, and I don’t care if you agree, ‘Cause I’m the Vaxman, yeah I’m the Vaxman,” he sang. “If you don’t like me coming round, be thankful I don’t hold you down.”
Valentine is one of several public figures in recent months who have railed against the vaccine only to catch severe cases of COVID-19. Two weeks ago, another conservative radio host, Dick Farrel, died from the virus in Florida.
The more contagious Delta coronavirus variant has caused a surge in infections throughout the nation over the past month, particularly in the South, and the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among those who have not received a vaccine. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has called the recent spike “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”