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UPDATED, with additional King comments: CNN’s John King revealed on Tuesday that he has multiple sclerosis during a segment of Inside Politics in which the discussion turned to Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
“I’m going to share a secret I have never spoken before. I am immunocompromised,” King said. “I have multiple sclerosis. So I am grateful you are all vaccinated. I am grateful my employer says all of these amazing people who work on the floor, who came in here in the last 18 months when we are doing this, are vaccinated now that we have vaccines. I worry about bringing it home to my 10-year-old son who can’t get a vaccine. I don’t like the government telling me what to do. I don’t like my boss telling me what to do. In this case, it’s important.”
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The discussion was triggered in part by the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell of complications from Covid. He had been vaccinated, but also had a form of blood cancer, multiple mylenoma, that made him vulnerable. In addition, Powell was 84. Age increases the likelihood of a Covid-related death, according to the CDC. The former Secretary of State also had Parkinson’s which, while it does not increase the risk of getting Covid, “does make it harder for you to recover if you contract it,” according to the nonprofit Parkinson’s Foundation. Some right wing media figures cited Powell’s death in making the case that the vaccines are not effective.
King said during the segment, “Now and then something big comes along, forgive me Fox News, is what makes America exceptional is when we all set down our personal preferences for the good of the team. The good of the team here is to come together and not spread that.”
On Monday night, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson led his show with Powell’s death and said that it showed that Americans have been “lied to” about the effectiveness of vaccines. At the end of his show, Carlson did say that he “left out that Powell was suffering from a number of different health problems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaccines are far more effective in preventing serious injury and death due to Covid. “Some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick because no vaccine is 100% effective,” the CDC said.
During King’s segment, the CNN chyron read, “Right wing media use Colin Powell’s death to question vaccines when unvaccinated face 11X higher risk of dying from Covid.”
Later, King told Boston Public Radio that his disclosure “was not planned. It is a secret I have kept for a long time except for a very few people very close to me in my life.”
He said that the disease is progressive slowly in me “and I am very lucky.”
“MS sucks, forgive my language,” he told hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. “Every day you are dealing with it in some ways. But there are people who are dealing with it in more profound ways than I am.”
He said that he told his story after playing Carlson’s segment and “it just pissed me off, and it came out…When you have this misinformation about vaccines in a way that threatens people — 727,000 Americans have died of Covid. They are all American treasures, just like General Powell was. If we can do anything to protect them, we should do it, even if we have to set aside a personal preference or personal principle.”
He added, “You don’t have to agree about mandates, but don’t lie about science.”
King, 58, who is CNN’s chief national correspondent. He joined the network in 1997.
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