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More GOP lawmakers embrace vaccine but still aren't calling out misinformation about it

July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: The Capitol dome is seen early Wednesday morning before Amb. William Taylor And Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State George Kent testify at the first public impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill November 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. In the first public impeachment hearings in more than two decades, House Democrats are trying to build a case that President Donald Trump committed extortion, bribery or coercion by trying to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rival in exchange for military aide and a White House meeting that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky sought with Trump. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's "perplexed" why so many people in the country still aren't vaccinated. The answer may lie, in part, within his own party.

Even as Republicans move toward being more publicly trusting of the vaccine and personally reject anti-vaccine rhetoric, which McConnell did vocally early on, many in the GOP have still been reluctant to confront one of the biggest culprits of vaccine hesitancy: misinformation being spread by members of their own party.

Even GOP lawmakers with medical degrees, who have been some of the loudest vaccine advocates in their party, have been reluctant to call out their Republican colleagues who are stoking fears about the vaccine or actively discouraging people from getting the shot.

Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter, a pharmacist and member of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, said on CNN that fellow Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene -- whose Twitter account was recently suspended for vaccine misinformation -- has "every right" to her opinion, even though he disagrees with it.

And Rep. Brian Babin, a Texas member of the Republican doctors group who has been urging people to get vaccinated, told CNN: "I'm not going to call anybody out.

Yet there's another political reality underpinning the party's reluctance to forcefully push back on vaccine misinformation spreading inside the GOP: Republicans are uncomfortable with any form of censorship on social media platforms -- an idea that is anathema in the party, where "conservative bias" in Big Tech has been a rallying cry in recent years.

And Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, has said that after the Biden administration knocks on doors to encourage people to take the vaccine, the government will try to take guns and Bibles next.

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