When Anti-Establishment Politics Goes Wrong: Jimmy Dore

Jimmy Dore speaking at the 2016 Politicon by Gage Skidmore

What is the Left? That question has vexed the American people for the last five years as candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties have either endorsed or rejected the so-called Left with equal enthusiasm and, in some cases, hostility. And nobody is emblematic of the wrong answer to that question than Jimmy Dore.

Jimmy Dore has a long and sometimes contradictory career. Though he is known now as a political commentator. That is not all that he is. A comedian and commentator, Dore represents the interconnected and sometimes complicated relationship between entertainment and news.

From Comedy To Politics

With experience on broadway, Dore has several years of media experience ranging from appearances on Jimmy Kimmel to podcasts like Comedy and Everything. By 2005, his work veered off into political commentary as he began to integrate clips of politicians into his online comedy, and by 2009, he had his own show, which The Young Turks hosted for several years. However, he left in 2019, which he explained on his show.

Since then, he has been embroiled in several controversies throughout his career. In one instance, Dore seemed to lean into 9/11 conspiracism on the Comedy and Everything podcast, saying:

Why would you need to shame people who question the government’s view of what happened on 9/11? So that’s what makes me suspect. They call them truthers. They name them so you can dismiss them. As soon as you ask a question about 9/11 they go “oh, you’re a truther.”
Jimmy Dore on 9/11

Though not done with his 9/11 trutherism, Dore’s statements on the show are part of a long-standing and consistent rhetorical trick that he has used to avoid criticism for his lackluster reporting. And that rhetoric is on display when Dore talks about vaccines and much more. Much like the conspiracy theorists before him, Dore almost never takes responsibility for any affirmative claims. Instead, he avoids the issue entirely and sows doubt about establishment politics without offering substantiative analysis.

When You Can’t Prove it, Beg The Question

Though not always in the anti-vaccine media scene, Dore has had his criticisms of vaccine policy. In December of last year, Dore posted a video titled Vaccine For Elite But Not For Nurses, in which he critiqued a hospital’s decision to vaccine administrative staff before front-line workers and nurses.

Though a bit generalized in its commentary, the video is not unusual in its critiques of how frontline workers have been treated since Covid-19 started, especially nurses. And it serves as a stark contrast to his future content that he would release months later. If anything, this video alone would suggest that Dore was pro-vaccine and was radically in favor of their usage, if not outright in favor of giving them to for free. A position that this author agrees with fervently. But this position would change, as YouTuber Shaun pointed out in his recent expose.

In this recent expose, Shaun rightfully notes that Dore has begun repeating anti-vaccine propaganda. In one of the videos that Shaun examines, Dore incorrectly and deceptively analyzes a Fortune Magazine article titled Highly-vaccinated, but more cases than ever: Singapore shows the world what ‘endemic’ COVID might look like. Said article details the rise in Covid-19 cases and the vaccination rate in Singapore and how it may be illustrative of how countries may have to live with Covid-19 without outright eradicating it.

Through this article, one could easily gather that Covid-19 may be harder to end and that instead of eradicating Covid-19 entirely, vaccination would likely serve as a means to reduce the harm the virus causes. However, if a person were to watch Dore’s video on the topic, they would come away with the understanding that vaccination doesn’t work, as Singapore’s 80 percent vaccination rate has seemingly failed to prevent covid cases.

Indeed, that appears by design. In his video, Shaun points out that Dore not only skips the first paragraph, which explains that the vaccination rate has helped mitigate the surge, but that he also overemphasized the rising cases in Singapore.

Screenshot of Shaun’s video.

Nor was it the first time Dore would avoid content that he didn’t approve of, as he once again skipped several paragraphs to fearmonger about Singapore. Dore skips several of the paragraphs that help contextualize Singapore’s health policies and reaches for the argument that Covid-19 is here to stay without explaining what that actually means for everyday people.

Another screenshot showing Dore avoids contextualizing his topics

This pattern continues throughout that video that hopes to scare people into not getting vaccinated. It is a scaremongering piece that, far from just misrepresenting Singapore’s vaccine policies, actively altered entire portions of the article to make it say completely different things, which Shaun rightfully condemned. In the original article, the author wrote that:

“Throughout July and August, cases in Singapore ticked up to over 100 per day after nearly a year of almost no infections due to the city’s previous zero-tolerance policy. That policy included stay-at-home orders, intensive testing and contact tracing, and a ban on foreign visitors. This month, cases have risen exponentially, from 180 on Sept. 1 to roughly 500 by mid-September and to nearly 1,500 this week. “

Grady McGregor, Highly-vaccinated, but more cases than ever, 2021.

Dore, however, presented the paragraph like this.

Keen-eyed viewers will note that Dore has altered the meaning of the text, which previously mentioned that stay-at-home were employed in the past, to a version that made it sound like they were being employed despite their supposed failure to contain covid-19. The word ‘despite,’ which you can see on the screenshot, never appears in the paragraph Dore quotes. In other words, Dore has outright rewritten somebody else’s work to make them say something that they never said. That alone is insulting to the author’s credibility but is also damaging to the validity of Dore’s entire channel, assuming it gains the attention it deserves, of course.

Though, I suspect that it got some attention, as Dore has released a response to the expose.

From the beginning of the expose, Dore lists a litany of previous conflicts to appear more sympathetic, arguing that establishment Democrats were arguing that if everyone got the vaccine then Covid would go away. There are three problems with that approach. The first is that the clip he shows of Speaker Pelosi does not say anything remotely like that, and the second is that not everyone is vaccinated. Just recently, the FDA approved Pfizer’s vaccine for kids aged 5 through 11, opening up a portion of the population that was previously unavailable. The third is that he hawks Dr. Robert Malone, who has repeatedly made the repeated claim that he created or, at the very least, invented the MRNA technology that now goes into many of the Covid-19 vaccines we now use. However, that is suspect.

More to the point, however, Dore’s video is a grievance list that covers up the fact that his show misrepresented someone else’s work to support anti-vaccine talking points. And instead of acknowledging that reality, Dore instead reasserts a point that he has only been making because it appeals to his audience. But when addresses the key issue at hand, he blames his producer.

Not only does Dore blame his producer, but he argues that it was his producer who put together the story and, by extension, made him make this argument. If true, then Dore is still guilty of gross incompetence and laziness. Hosts are responsible for the content they put out and no matter how much they may want to blame their failures on staff, the buck stops with them. Whether or not it was his producer, Dore still could’ve read the article and questioned his producer about editorial choice, but chose not to. And considering that he has consistently hawked figures like Malone who have their own history with anti-vaccine advocates, it would not surprise this writer to learn that he was the one who approved the changes in the first place.

Though, before this ends, it should be noted that Dore is marching along a thin line here, as YouTube has banned all anti-vaccine content from its platform. According to its terms of service, users can be banned for making “claims that COVID-19 vaccines do not reduce risk of contracting COVID-19.” Dore avoids crossing that line by virtue of implying that very thing while not outright saying it. However, if YouTube were to take said evasions of policy seriously, it would not unreasonable to expect Dore’s channel to be deleted, but considering YouTube’s previous failures in moderation, I wouldn’t expect it.

Still, a man can dream.

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