Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general running for Senate in New Hampshire, suggested on Tuesday that the national media should be shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to reduce public anxiety.
"I have a recommendation," he told a Sullivan County GOP meeting. To "buy down the fear," he proposed, "let's simply take national media and shut it down and see what happens. I guarantee you that better information gets out at the local level, people are better informed, there's less hyperbole, [and] there's less fear being spread."
The comments come at a time when already struggling local news outlets around the country have seen massive furloughs and shutdowns due to the coronavirus. The Columbia Journalism Review wrote in late March that "America's local newspapers" were confronting "an apocalypse."
Bolduc is running in a June 12 primary for the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).
This is not the first questionable comment Bolduc has made during the campaign.
In November, he joked about locking his "judgmental" wife in a car trunk to see if she is really his best friend. "You take your wife, you take your dog, put them in the trunk of a car," Bolduc suggested at a GOP meeting. "You close the trunk. Walk away, have a cup of coffee, come back in an hour, open up the trunk. And who's going to be happy to see you? Not the wife!" (He made it clear he had not actually done this and advised attendees against doing so.)
In January, he said the Civil War was caused by "gridlock" and finger-pointing.
"The Civil War was started because the parties, because they couldn't come together," he told voters at a campaign stop. "There were reasons for fighting it. But they couldn't get together to figure it out so we just had a war. Gridlock, blaming, pointing the finger. Not working together, not being a partnered team."
In March, he used racist language to describe the coronavirus, while suggesting that he was not at all racist.
"I'm not a racist person at all. I served 33 years in the military, an institution that was the first to desegregate of any in our society in 1948," he explained to a local radio station. "So I really don't want to hear any noise that gets thrown at me about being a racist because I call this the China coronavirus or the president does, or anybody else does, because it is, you know. And I'm not racist about it."
Public health experts have warned that language like this reinforces a dangerous stigma against people of Asian descent.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.