A Colorado talk radio host whose show introduces him as a “newsman, now with an opinion,” is refusing to offer his opinion on whether his conservative listeners should get a COVID vaccination, despite his landing in the hospital himself this year and after contracting COVID.
I called Steffan Tubbs KNUS show Friday to find out why he’s withholding his opinion on vaccinations.
Colorado Times Recorder: As you know, I’ve been trying to talk to you about your not recommending that people get a vaccination.
Tubbs: Are you doing this for an article? I said I’d rather not do it. I don’t understand why you got to come here.
Colorado Times Recorder: I just want to clarify. I don’t understand.
Tubbs: What don’t you understand?
Colorado Times Recorder: You have an opinion. You’re a very opinionated person. You know, we’ve talked over the years, and now you’ve switched to being a, you know, talk radio host with lots of opinions. And I don’t, I just don’t get why you don’t have an opinion on that topic.
Tubbs: People should have the choice.
Colorado Times Recorder: Yeah, they will have the choice.
Tubbs: Yes, I don’t like the government telling me what to do. I don’t like mandates.
Colorado Times Recorder: You’re not the government. I’m wondering why you don’t say people should get vaccinated.
Tubbs: Because people can make their own decisions. Look, what do you want me to say? I’m sure this is all going to be in an article. You can quote me on that. What do you want me to say? You want me to come on the air and tell every single person, ‘Go get vaccinated.’ If they want to go get vaccinated, I’m not an anti-vaxer. If they want to go get vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Go get vaccinated. I’m not going to. Come on. That’s not my job. I’m not a doctor.
Colorado Times Recorder: You’re in the opinion business, all you’re doing is offering your opinion. You offer lots of opinions, and a lot of people don’t accept what you say.
Tubbs: Here’s my opinion. Let’s make it very clear for you and the Colorado Recorder or whatever you’re with.
Colorado Times Recorder: Thank you.
Tubbs: Let me make it very clear.
Colorado Times Recorder: I appreciate it.
Tubbs: Okay, ready?
Colorado Times Recorder: Yep.
Tubbs: Bye, bye Jason. Here it is. You ready? People should have the choice whether or not they get vaccinated. I will also say for our friend Jason, something that I’ve actually said many, many times on this program if you are on the fence and you don’t know after 20-plus months whether you should get vaccinated or not and you tune into a talk show on a five-thousand-watt directional radio station, and you come to me hoping that you will get the final answer after 20 months, if you are looking to me to tell you to get vaccinated or not get jabbed, you need psychiatric help. Can I be any more clear?
Tubbs’ suggestion that if you need to hear his opinion on the vaccine question, then you need “psychiatric help,” because the issue has been so thoroughly debated, is objectively hypocritical, given that he constantly re-hashes and re-offers his opinion on topics (Vaccine mandates, Safe Injection Sites, Biden, Kamala Harris, Trump) that have been re-hashed, repeated, and re-hashed.
Talk radio shows are known to air the same opinion over and over again for years. It’s part of their formula. That’s one reason they’ve been credited with helping to elect Trump and, in Colorado, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).
On air, Tubbs, who previously played a nonpartisan role as co-host of KOA’s Colorado’s Morning News, said my decision to call into his show, after he’d told me a month ago he didn’t want to discuss the topic, was “real sleazy, real slimy.”
“If you are considering yourself some sort of even remote journalist, you don’t try to further a story, move a story ahead, write a story that way,” Tubbs told his listeners after he ushered me off the air. “If you’re just tuning in. I mean, dude calls, and he’s with some, to me, worthless rag online, and he’s been nice to me before, but there’s been much more slamming.
“But I mean, he reached out to me after COVID, you know, ‘Why aren’t you telling people to get vaccinated?’ Can I make myself any more clear? So hopefully Matt said, yeah, you made yourself clear.
“But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that, and I had made it very clear in a text message to this guy weeks ago that I’m not going to take part in an interview with, you know, no. Here’s why. And there you go. But then just to call and then to be taking notes. The good thing for you, Jason, is, it’s on podcast as of probably 8:00 tonight. So you can make sure that every single syllable and every word that you get accurate. And our audience has spoken as well. Thank you for the text coming in. Yeah, it was sleezy. Thank you. It was sleazy. It was scummy. You don’t do that.”
I’d asked Tubbs via voice mail Aug. 5 to tell me why he was holding back on telling his audience about his opinion on vaccines, and he’d responded by telling me he’d pass on my interview request.
As the pandemic has begun filling morgues with the bodies of unvaccinated people, many of whom are in conservative communities and hold similar opinions to Tubbs’ audience, I decided to call his show to try to understand his stance and to find out if he thought he might help folks by using his opinion to convince them to get vaccinated. When I called the show Friday, I identified myself and my outlet — and the topic of my question — when the screener answered the phone.
I also wanted to talk to Tubbs, in light of a story about a conservative radio host, who’d died of COVID, and prior to his death, changed his tune and urged people to get vaccinated.
Nashville conservative talker Phil Valentine, 61, died of COVID in August after expressing regret at having been a vaccine skeptic.
“I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated,'” Phil Valentine’s brother, Mark Valentine, was quoted by NBC as saying.
Tubbs refuses to say if he’s vaccinated.
Listen to Tubbs on his show Sept. 3.