Donald Trump’s favourite TV show, Fox & Friends, has a reputation for giving airtime to conspiracy theories that benefit the White House agenda. But host Pete Hegseth may now have managed to upset the famously germaphobic president – by revealing that he has not washed his hands in a decade.
The admission came as Hegseth discussed eating day-old pizza that had not been refrigerated. He did not see any issue with eating the pizza, he said, then added that he didn’t think he had washed his hands in 10 years.
“Really,” he said. “I don’t really wash my hands ever.”
Met with laughter, he explained: “I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.”
On Twitter on Monday, Hegseth gave mixed messages. He claimed he had been joking and paraphrased the president in blaming the media for being so “self-righteous and angry”. He also said he supported drinking from hosepipes and riding bikes without a helmet.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that regular hand washing “is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others”. Being well educated about hand washing “reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23% to 40%”, it says.
Fox has form, however, when it comes to denying scientific fact just because it is not immediately observable. Analysis by the progressive watchdog Media Matters for America found that Fox News hosts tend to discuss climate change when the weather is particularly cold, seeking to cast doubt over accepted science regarding rising global temperatures.
Hegseth, who served with the national guard in Iraq, was once reported to be Trump’s favoured pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. That role would have made him responsible for the health and wellbeing of 20 million Americans.
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