Dick Farrel, a longtime conservative radio host from West Palm Beach, Florida, who was a vocal opponent of the coronavirus vaccine and vehement critic of Dr. Anthony Fauci, died Aug. 4 of complications from COVID-19, according to WPTV. He was 65.
After calling Fauci a “power-tripping lying freak” and urging people not to get vaccinated as recently as June, Farrel changed his tune after contracting the virus himself and entering the hospital roughly three weeks ago.
“Covid Took One Of My Best Friends!” his friend Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook. “He is the reason I took the shot! He texted me and told me to ‘Get it!; He told me that this virus is no joke and he said: ‘I wish I had gotten it!'”
Farrel’s partner, Kit Farley, wrote on Facebook, “He was known as the other Rush Limbaugh. With a heavy heart, I can only say this was so unexpected. He will be missed.”
A native of Queens, New York, who was born Farrel Austin Levitt, he got his start in New York radio before bouncing among stations in Florida. He also anchored for the right-wing news outlet Newsmax as a fill-in in 2018.
Mick McCabe, creative director of the radio broadcaster Hubbard South Florida, told WPTV, “Dick was a pioneer ‘shock talk’ host, certainly here in South Florida, and a loyal friend both personally and to listeners here for decades.”
An ardent supporter of Donald Trump, Farrel went full in on unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about election fraud earlier this year and questioned the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines developed during the Trump administration. According to the Daily Beast, he articulated many of his extreme opinions on a Facebook account that has since been made private.
“So, u think it wasn’t a SCAM DEMIC? NOT ONE ELECTED DEMOCRAT ever tested positive,” he wrote in late June, without any basis in fact. In early July, he asked, “Why take a vax promoted by people who lied 2u all along about masks.” He also suggested that Fauci, the renowned infectious-disease expert, was conspiring with “power trip libb loons” to make everyone believe the pandemic was still a threat just so they could seize more power.
But his own illness did prompt a reversal — and he helped convince some in his circle to get vaccinated themselves. As Hair told WPTV, “I was one of one the people like him who didn’t trust the vaccine. I trusted my immune system. I just became more afraid of getting COVID-19 than I was of any possible side effects of the vaccine. I’m glad I got vaccinated.”