Conservative radio host who called himself ‘Mr. Anti-Vax’ dies after COVID-19 battle

U.S. and World

Radio talk show host Marc Bernier speaks with Karl Rove in a tent outside the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Conservative radio host Marc Bernier has died of complications from COVID-19, his Daytona Beach radio station confirmed Saturday.

“It’s with great sadness that WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years,” the station said on Twitter. “We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief.”

Before his death, the station’s operating director, Marc McKinney told the Daytona Beach News-Journal Bernier tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 6 and was hospitalized the following day.

“I’m numb,” said Mike Chitwood, the county sheriff. “To me, this is a death in the family.”

Bernier was a vocal critic of vaccines on his radio show. “If you’ve listened to his show, you’ve heard him talk about how anti-vaccine he is on the air,” McKinney told the newspaper before Bernier’s death.

In July, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had urged people to get vaccinated, saying the “greatest generation had to defeat the Nazis to preserve our way of life.”

“You’re only being asked to get a shot. So be a patriot,” Fried said.

Bernier responded to Fried’s comments on his show: “Should say, ‘Now the US Government is acting like Nazi’s. Get the shot!’”

“I’m not taking it … Are you kidding me? Mr Anti-Vax? Jeepers,” he told a guest last December.

Bernier is the third conservative radio host to die of COVID-19 in recent weeks. Dick Farrel, a former right-wing radio host in Florida died of the virus on Aug 4. Phil Valentine, a conservative radio host in Nashville, Tennessee, died a few weeks later. Both men were vaccine skeptics who changed their tune after contracting COVID-19 and started urging their followers to get vaccinated.

Despite being a conservative, Bernier was known for featuring differing perspectives and viewpoints on his show.

“He gives all sides,” Justin Gates, a listener, told the News-Journal. “He’s not going to bully and throw punches or do potshots or do things for ratings. That’s why he’s so popular.”

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