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Bill Clinton Chats With Jason Isbell About Vaccine Deniers On Podcast – Deadline


Former President Bill Clinton is launching a second season of his iHeart podcast Why Am I Telling You This? on Thursday, with singer-songwriter Jason Isbell as his first guest.

Among the topics in their wide-ranging conversation is that of Covid vaccine deniers and the challenge of changing their minds about taking the shots.

Isbell has been adamant about having a set of Covid protocols at his concerts that include proof of vaccinations or recent negative tests, something that drew scorn from some of his fans, with some performances canceled, yet praise from others.

In the new episode, which posted at midnight on Thursday, Isbell tells Clinton that performing with vaccine protocols in place “helps me do my job and be happy when I’m on stage and not be concerned and not be worried about people’s safety or about the kind of audience that I have, I just want to keep making those right decisions and keep making music. And that’s it. Ten years, 20 years, 30 years, that’s all I want to do.”

Clinton then brought up one argument from anti-vaxxers: That those fully vaccinated are still testing positive “because these variants come at us pretty quick. And the vaccines are directed at this target and when the target moves a little bit, it may get through.”

“But the death rate is still 13 to 16 times higher for people who aren’t vaccinated than for people who are. And I don’t understand why that’s not enough,” Clinton said.

“It doesn’t seem like much of a decision there, does it?” Isbell said.

Clinton compared the situation to a time when he was governor of Arkansas and a group of bikers came to seem him, wanting him to sign a repeal the state’s helmet law. But Clinton opposed such an action.

“I said, ‘If you don’t wear a helmet what you’re really saying is, ‘Well, I might get hurt and I might get severely brain damaged and I might be immobile for the rest of my life, and the rest of you have to support me,’” Clinton recalled. “Or, ‘I might get hit by a scared 17-year-old driver and I could destroy that kid’s life because he’d never get over the fact that he hit me.’ I said, ‘You guys act like your choices just operate in a vacuum and they don’t. Whether we like it or not, what we do impacts other people.’ And I wish I could make the argument better than I apparently have, because there’s still a lot of people holding out out there.”

Isbell said that “it’s hard to convince [a vaccine skeptic that ‘No, I really mean this, what I’m saying. I really, truly mean, I think you should get the vaccine, or I think this job should mandate vaccines, or I think this venue should mandate vaccines. That’s the reason that I’m telling you this is because I believe it.’ And I think we’ve gotten to a point where so many bad faith actors have come onto the scene and argued things that they didn’t really believe in order to rile up their fan base or their constituency or their family that it’s easy to assume that everybody is arguing in bad faith.

He added, “I think if we could figure out a way just to convince people that, ‘I’m not trying to trick you into anything, I really just truly believe this is better for all of us,’ then we might be able to make some progress with it, but some people just don’t want to listen.”

Clinton launched his podcast, a co-production of iHeart Media, the Clinton Foundation and At Will Media, last year, with a focus on featuring conversations on explaining complex and complicated topics, as well as bridging divisions in the country. Among the guests were Shonda Rhimes, Wynton Marsalis, Stacey Abrams, Sanjay Gupta, Magic Johnson, Bernice King, and James Carville and Paul Begala.

In the trailer for the new season, Clinton said, “With deep division taking tighter and tighter hold across America and all around the world, it’s clear that we all need to know each other better. So I wanted these conversations to celebrate our differences and people’s unique gifts that make life interesting, but affirm that our common humanity matters more.”

Clinton and Isbell also talk about problems facing rural America, the overdose epidemic, as well as Isbell’s new album Georgia Blue and his upcoming role in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

The podcast is distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. Craig Minassian and Will Malnati are executive producers.

Clinton has been doing a number of entertainment projects recently, including a MasterClass on inclusive leadership, co-authoring The President’s Daughter with James Patterson and a documentary series on the presidency for the History channel. The Clinton Foundation also is considering a return of the Clinton Global Initiative in September.

Listen the the new episode below:



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