“Fox & Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth opened up about his personal hygiene habits on Sunday’s show, joking to his co-hosts that he does not wash his hands because he does not believe in germs.
“As I told you, my 2019 resolution is to say things on-air that I say off-air,” Hegseth explained. “I don’t think I’ve washed my hands for 10 years.”
Co-hosts Ed Henry and Jedediah Bila laughed at the remark, and audible groans could be heard from off-camera within the studio.
“I inoculate myself. It’s just not — germs are not a real thing,” Hegseth continued. “I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.”
Bila added that Hegseth was developing an immunity to bacteria, rolling her eyes as he remarked, “Exactly! I can’t get sick.”
The entire exchange was prompted by Bila acknowledging that Hegseth was eating day-old pizza that had been left on the “Fox & Friends” set overnight, according to Raw Story
In an interview with USA Today on Monday, Hegseth explained that he was joking with his co-hosts:
“My half-hearted commentary to the point is, we live in a society where people walk around with bottles of Purell in their pockets, and they sanitize 19,000 times a day as if that’s going to save their life,” he said. “I take care of myself and all that, but I don’t obsess over everything all the time.”
Watch the video below:
Fox News’ @PeteHegseth admits, unprompted, that he hasn’t washed his hands in 10 years.
“Germs are not a real thing,” Pete says. “I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.” pic.twitter.com/9hsAb9YA9j
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 10, 2019
On Twitter, Hegseth engaged with a 70-year-old viewer who also swore off the commonly accepted routine practice for controlling the spread of germs and disease.
— Pete Hegseth (@PeteHegseth) February 10, 2019
Hegseth’s joke basic germ control is perhaps made more interesting by the fact that President Donald Trump had reportedly once considered the “Fox & Friends” host as a potential head for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency tasked with providing medical care to millions of American veterans. In contrast with Hegseth, Trump is a self-proclaimed “germaphobe” who reportedly has a disdain for handshakes and a passion for frequent hand washing.
While Hegseth may believe he’s discovered the key to a strong immune system, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still recommends frequent hand-washing with soap and running water.
According to a CDC fact sheet, “studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.”
Without hand-washing, germs can be introduced to the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth, or they can be transferred to food and other items around the home or workplace.
The CDC recommends washing with soap and running water for 20 seconds, or two “Happy Birthday” songs.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional comments from Pete Hegseth to USA Today, clarifying that his initial comments were made in jest.