To the Editor:
I read with interest our Aug. 20 edition and particularly the letter from reader Jim Lund of St. Germain. Mr. Lund had Covid and is now afflicted with the devastating “long hauler” effects of the virus. His letter about the topic was passionate, personal, and a needed addition to counter the rampant anti-vaccination disinformation that is being spread everywhere.
His analysis of the VAERS website and the points that can be taken from the site was basically right on the money. The site is not meant for absolute proof of anything regarding health. Its disclaimer states as much.  Doctors I have spoken to know this.
What shocked me was your nearly 1,000-word editorial response criticizing and demeaning Mr. Lund and his point of view. Essentially telling people not to get the Covid vaccine, not to trust it, extolling the vaccine's minimal dangers in comparison to the very real dangers of a communicable, mutating disease that has killed over 630,000 Americans hardly seems fitting for a newspaper that calls itself “The Voice of the Northwoods.” (And by the way, my family has owned property and pays taxes in the North Woods of the Upper Peninsula for many decades.)
I have dealt with sports issues on a national and local level for nearly 50 years, and, trust me, all teams at all levels want all their athletes, coaches, and employees vaccinated. (Now that the Pfizer vaccine is FDA-approved, getting vaccinated soon may not be a request but a condition of employment.) As Jed Hoyer, the general manager of the Chicago Cubs said recently, not getting his own players vaccinated to the 85 percent level mandated by Major League Baseball for safety has been a “competitive disadvantage.” 
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, a team that is approaching the 100-percent vaccination level, has said this: “I believe completely in (personal freedom) until your decisions impact negatively many others. Then, the common good takes over. We have to check ‘I’ at the door and go forward with ‘We.’”
Coupled with a cartoon above Mr. Lund's letter showing Dr. Anthony Fauci as a carnival-style huckster in front of a looming Frankenstein's monster labeled “Vaccine Mandates,” you have made it clear you will go with disinformation and selfishness over science and patriotism. I find that not only shameful but dangerous to readers. 
Rick Telander
Senior Sports Columnist
Chicago Sun-Times


Editors note:
It is hardly surprising that Mr. Telander, writing as a representative of the mainstream national media, adopts the corporate media’s narrative and the government’s talking points hook, line, and sinker. Signing his letter in his official capacity, rather than as a citizen with a viewpoint, makes us wonder if his corporate overlords directed him to do it. Or maybe he just volunteered so as to win brownie points from his masters.
But they are very weak points. Mr. Telander repeats Mr. Lund’s biased and inaccurate views about VAERS — which we dispatched with documentation in our response to Mr. Lund — and then accuses us of telling people not to trust the Covid vaccines and not to get them. 
That last allegation is just a lie. We are asking our readers to go The Lakeland Times website and read the article for yourself (https://www.lakelandtimes.com/Content/Default/News/Article/Rate-of-Covid-deaths-hospitalizations-among-the-fully-vaccinated-span-style-font-weight-bold-mushroom-span-/-3/9/47961?s=1). We never suggested that people do not get vaccinated, which remains a very strong recommendation for senior citizens and those with underlying conditions. What we did do is raise questions that everyone with any desire for the truth should demand answers to. 
For instance, why shouldn’t people ask if the vaccines are really safe, when the number of reported deaths (as of June 18) following Covid vaccination account for 48 percent of all reported deaths following vaccination for all vaccines over the past 30 years — a vaccine that has been on the market for less than a year?
Stunningly, Mr. Telander would have us ignore that the number of reported deaths within two days of Covid vaccination was 1,736 on June 18, compared to 1,893 deaths reported within two days for all other vaccines since VAERS was established in 1990.
And why shouldn’t people question the safety of the vaccines when there are no — repeat, no — clinical trials measuring any potential long-term side effects, especially when negative and serious side effects often do not show up in vaccines for a year or more after inoculation?
Why shouldn’t people question the efficacy of a vaccine that is effective at first but is spectacularly failing after five or six months. Why shouldn’t they ask why the government thinks a third shot is safe, and why the government thinks they won’t need a fourth or fifth?
All that should at least raise eyebrows, but Mr. Telander thinks it’s dangerous and shameful if you ask any questions about the “minimal dangers’ of the vaccines. As Ronald Reagan said, trust, but verify. Mr. Telander wants us all to trust, but to him to try and verify what the government is saying is akin to an act of treason.
We find it odd that the person Mr. Telander thinks is a hero is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones. He believes Mr. Jones, in promoting player vaccination, actually cares about team safety. 
This is the same Jerry Jones who has dismissed players’ claims about brain injury, calling it absurd to think that there’s enough data to link football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE. Jones has even compared the debate about whether football causes CTE to the age-old debate about whether “milk and red meat are good for you.”
He laughs it off, all the while downplaying the seriousness of football-related injuries even as his own players have experienced some of the most excruciating injuries, including the Cowboys’ iconic star, Tony Dorsett, who was diagnosed with showing signs of CTE and who struggles with his health.
It’s not shocking that a corporate media hack would try to prop up a corporate thug like Jerry Jones. They are both members of America’s elite. What Mr. Jones values is not safety — as his dismissal of football-related injuries attests to — but in putting a product on the field that is going to make him money, and that’s what his vaccination rants are all about.
Simply put, NFL revenues took a hit last year and owners like Jones don’t want to miss out this year. They don’t want star players sidelined by Covid protocols even when they are healthy. They want a team on the field and fans in the seats, and the only health care Jones is attentive to is the health care of his bank account.
Even some of Mr. Telander’s colleagues see through Jones’s ‘I-care-about-the-players’ ploy, exposing Mr. Telander’s lack of journalistic credibility. Here’s how Charles Robinson, Yahoo Sports senior writer, sees Mr. Jones, not as hero but as profiteer:
“So when you hear Jones say he’s got his team ‘in the pipeline’ to being a league-leader in vaccination rate, recognize that this is Jerry maximizing business and mitigating any other complications to winning. That’s Jerry’s side in this vaccination culture war. It’s not about right or wrong or party platforms. It’s about financial green over political red and blue. It’s about pragmatism rather than patriotism.”
One does not have to dismiss the very real dangers of Covid-19, especially for the elderly and high-risk populations, to question the nation’s approach in dealing with it. It may or may not be the right approach, but everyone deserves the utmost information to make up their own minds.
It’s called informed consent. It’s called transparency and democracy. It’s called choice.
Those are all ideas that frighten government propagandists like Mr. Telander. They are terrified that in the end — if dissent and discussion are allowed — it will be the mainstream press exposed as carnival hucksters. They needn’t worry. So-called journalists like Mr. Telander, who write with their national media credentials pinned to their letters like police badges, are already sitting unsheltered on the hill, naked emperors on display for all the world to see.