Published On: Mon, Feb 11th, 2019

Vinay Menon: Fox News host Pete Hegseth should’ve kept his dirty secret to himself

If Fox & Friends were a restaurant, health inspectors would’ve closed it down this weekend and then soaked Pete Hegseth with a decontamination hose.

Fox News often faces calls for advertiser boycotts. But after Sunday, new sponsors — Purell, Clorox, Dial Lavender & Twilight Jasmine Antibacterial Deodorant Soap, maybe the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention — should be encouraged to buy time to counteract the network’s ongoing threat to public health.

Fox News host Pete Hegseth, right, claims germs aren't real so that's why he doesn't wash his hands.
Fox News host Pete Hegseth, right, claims germs aren't real so that's why he doesn't wash his hands.  (YouTube/Fox News)

What is the first thing we tell our kids when they walk in the house? Wash your hands. I say this so many times in any given week, I can actually feel my brown skin turning blue: “Hey, you just had a dentist appointment — wash your hands. Sky Zone is a Xanadu for microbes — wash your hands. It’s cold and flu season, you lunatics. Wash your hands. WASH. YOUR. HANDS!”

And then along comes a big bag of cooties named Pete Hegseth.

It started innocently enough.

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Hegseth, who looks like he could play Donald Trump Jr. in a fantasy film set inside a Vidal Sassoon sweatshop where mad scientists are formulating a top-secret gel for super patriots, was bantering with co-hosts Ed Henry and Jedediah Bila.

That’s when he said this: “As I told you, my 2019 resolution is to say things on air that I say off air. I don’t think I’ve washed my hands for 10 years.”

What? As non-sequiturs go, this was a doozy in a town called Point Gross.

Hegseth might as well have licked the bottoms of his shoes and then sprayed a rubella mist into his eyes. His co-hosts burst into nervous laughter, as if they were waiting for a punch line that never came.

“I don’t really wash my hands ever,” he continued, undaunted, as if such an anti-hygiene declaration was the 11th Commandment. “I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore, they are not real.”

Right. He also can’t see gravity. That doesn’t mean he should jump off a building.

At that precise moment, everything that is wrong with Fox News — the rabble-rousing, the scaremongering, the intellectual dishonesty, the partisan assaults on science and reason — came into focus like a virus under an electron microscope.

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The grim irony was that as Hegseth was holding up his disgusting paws and equating germs to unicorns, a crawl on the screen announced yet another real outbreak of measles. Yes, parts of this continent are now coping with a resurgence of diseases that once were receding in the rearview mirror.

And a big reason for this comeback is the neglect of so-called parents.

I was just reading a heartbreaking story about teenagers who are now secretly trying to get inoculated because their mothers and fathers “don’t believe” in vaccines. Huh? It’s 2019. That’s like not believing in seatbelts.

But here we are, in a golden age of medicine, and a bunch of our fellow compatriots are beholden to dubious beliefs that crystallized inside a conspiratorial crypt of propaganda and disinformation. Imagine being lucky enough to live in a society where prevention is possible and then choosing to boost the odds your child will get a disease. Imagine being so arrogant and self-righteous and wildly misinformed that you forfeit avoidance in pursuit of superstition.

None of this should be up for debate — not the hand washing, not the anti-vaxxer garbage that is now placing entire communities at risk.

This is not a “philosophical choice” — it is child abuse.

To deny your children vaccines out of an irrational mistrust of medicine is like trying to push them into track and field by breaking their legs in the cradle.

This is why Hegseth’s Sunday confession — and I sincerely hope this was a lame attempt at satire I somehow missed after bolting to the latrine to scrub my hands — is so dispiriting. Would Hegseth want to dine out at a bistro in which the chefs hadn’t washed their hands in a decade? Would he want to be operated on in surgical theatre where the staff also believe germs are not real?

In fact, between the hand-washing contretemps this weekend and the last time Hegseth made headlines — after nearly killing a drummer on live television by throwing an axe that sailed over the target — how is he not considered a public menace? He is a clear and present danger to society.

This fool is chucking cleavers willy-nilly and waltzing around town with billions of microbes on his fingers. There should be a warning label on his forehead. The only thing he should be allowed to wear on Fox News is a hazmat suit.

For crying out loud, Pete Hegseth, wash your damn hands.

And then wash out your mouth for making everyone feel sick.

Vinay Menon is the Star’s pop culture columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @vinaymenon

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Vinay Menon: Fox News host Pete Hegseth should’ve kept his dirty secret to himself