Conservative talk show host, vaccine skeptic Phil Valentine dies after battle with COVID

ByAndy Rose, CNN
Sunday, August 22, 2021
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Phil Valentine, a Nashville-based conservative radio talk show host who had questioned whether it was necessary for all people to get Covid-19 vaccines, died on Saturday, his employer, WWTN Radio, announced on Twitter. Valentine was 61 years old.

"Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers," the station said in the tweet.

His death comes more than a month after the host first announced he had been diagnosed with Covid-19. On his program, Valentine had repeatedly downplayed the importance of getting a vaccine against the virus, saying last December that he believed his personal odds of dying from Covid-19 were "probably way less than one percent."

But his message changed in late July when his family announced that Valentine had been hospitalized in "very serious condition" and was suffering from "Covid Pneumonia and the attendant side effects."

"Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an 'anti-vaxer' he regrets not being more vehemently 'Pro-Vaccine', and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon," his brother Mark Valentine wrote on July 22.

Conservative radio host Phil Valentine is now changing his tune on COVID-19 vaccinations after he was hospitalized with the virus.
Shelley Mays/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

Mark Valentine told CNN's Alisyn Camerota in a July 26 interview his brother was doing better but was "still very deep in the woods" and breathing with assistance.

"He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated," he said in the interview. "And that he regrets."

"This is a real threat, it is a real public health crisis and it is something that if he had to do over again ... his cavalier attitude wouldn't have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated," he added.

Following news of his death, many shared tributes for the radio host.

"Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as they navigate the difficult days ahead," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee wrote on Twitter.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton added, Phil Valentine "made a difference in life as a strong conservative voice."

"He will be greatly missed by all! Our heartfelt prayers & deepest sympathies go out to the Valentine family & Phil's radio family," Sexton wrote.

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