Phil Valentine, a longtime Nashville conservative radio talk show host who openly criticized coronavirus vaccines, died on Saturday. He was 61. Valentine announced he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 11 and expected to survive. However, his family later said he was very sick and he began urging listeners to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers,” Valentine’s radio station, SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, announced on Twitter Saturday morning. The news comes a little over a month after he told listeners he was diagnosed with the virus. Just a few days before he announced he was diagnosed, he released a song parodying vaccination efforts called “Vaxman.”
We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/vhXpE7x0oX
— SuperTalk 99.7 WTN (@997wtn) August 21, 2021
On July 22, Valentine’s family said he now regretted being anti-vaccines and not telling his listeners to get vaccinated. “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 family said in a statement released by 99.7. “Phil & his family would like for all of you to know that he loves ya’ll and appreciates your concern, thoughts & prayers more than you will ever know. Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!”
After Valentine’s death was announced, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted condolences, as did U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty. None of them mentioned Valentine’s cause of death or vaccines. “Maria and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Valentine and pray for his family as
they navigate the difficult days ahead,” Lee wrote in his message.
Valentine grew up in North Carolina and was the son of the late U.S. Rep. Tim Valentine. He became a radio personality at 20 and became popular in Nashville when he spoke out against the state income tax proposed by then-Gov. Don Sundquist in 2001, reports The Tennessean. His show was nationally syndicated for 12 years. Valentine wrote three books, including Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government and The Conservative’s Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z. He also produced An Inconsistent Truth, which featured interviews with climate change skeptics.
Before he was diagnosed with COVID-19, Valentine repeatedly questioned vaccines. “I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” Valentine tweeted in December. He also claimed he was “taking Vitamin D like crazy” and a doctor prescribed him ivermectin, reports CBS News. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has advised against taking ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Vitamin D is also not proven to help against COVID-19.
After he was diagnosed and his condition grew worse though, Valentine’s brother Mark told Valentine’s listeners to get vaccinated. Valentine was “regretful that he wasn’t a more vocal advocate of the vaccination,” Mark said. “For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories.'”