Three Editorials, Op-Ed, National NPR Feature Make Clear: “Ernst Unfit to Serve Iowans

Senator Joni Ernst earned yet another wave of scathing state and national headlines over the weekend for refusing to publicly apologize for spreading “worthless and dangerous” conspiracy theories that insult our frontline health care heroes and downplay the pandemic.

Iowa editorial boards – including the Ottumwa Courier, N’West Iowa Review, and the Des Moines Register – sharply condemned Senator Ernst over her insults and misinformation, and highlighted how her refusal to own up to her lies demonstrates her failure to serve Iowans. The scandal and her refusal to apologize has become so damaging to Ernst that it also earned an NPR Weekend Edition feature on how Ernst is “under pressure” for her remarks as voters ready to cast their ballots. 

Now entering the scandal’s third week, Senator Ernst’s conspiracy theories continue to generate widespread outrage within Iowa’s health care community, who warn that her misinformation could make Iowa’s severe outbreak even worse. The outcry has grown that much louder in recent days after news last Thursday that Ernst privately told the Iowa Medical Society that she will not commit to issuing a public apology.

Below are six of the most brutal quotes from this weekend’s headlines:

Ottumwa Courier Editorial: Ernst unfit to serve Iowans

“Sen. Joni Ernst’s baseless comments followed by a refusal to firmly walk them back and apologize are another example showing she is not fit to represent Iowans in Washington, D.C.”

Des Moines Register Editorial: Iowans should be ‘really curious’ about where Sen. Joni Ernst gets her news on virus deaths

“A thistle to Sen. Joni Ernst for perpetuating a conspiracy theory debunked by doctors and public health experts … It would be interesting to know where Ernst gets her news. We’re just really curious, because what the heck is she talking about?”

N’West Iowa Review Editorial: Iowa, please mask up

“We were terribly disappointed to hear Sen. Joni Ernst pass along a worthless and dangerous claim that doctors are listing deaths as caused by COVID-19. Ernst, in the midst of a tough campaign for a second term, said she is ‘so skeptical’ of the deadly toll, suggesting there is a financial motive in play.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette Lyz Lenz Column: Theresa Greenfield will not make you squeal

“She has not, as Ernst has, falsely claimed that doctors are lying about the pandemic.

NPR: ‘So Skeptical’: As Election Nears, Iowa Senator Under Pressure For COVID-19 Remarks

“[Senator Joni Ernst’s] comments echoed conspiracy theories that have been pushed by QAnon followers and debunked by public health experts who note that the number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 is likely an undercount. Medical professionals have called Ernst’s comments dangerous, and Greenfield called out Ernst in a video.” 

Modern Healthcare: How hospital administrators were implicated in a right-wing COVID-19 conspiracy’

“Ernst faced swift backlash. Her opponent seized on the comments and ran a Facebook ad accusing Ernst of ‘peddling dangerous conspiracy theories.’ A group that represents 6,000 physicians, residents and medical students in Iowa called Ernst’s comments ‘offensive,’ according to a report by the Quad-City Times. The Iowa Medical Society said Ernst apologized for her remarks but did not promise a public apology.”