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Conservative Media Leads To Distrust In Health Officials, Belief In Conspiracy Theories

Photo by Johnny Silvercloud is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

People who regularly consume conservative media, like Fox News and Newsmax, are much more likely to believe in Covid-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories, and less likely to trust public health officials, according to a study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The survey, conducted in June, found that though the general public's trust in the Covid vaccine went up -- 78 percent in June compared to 74 percent in April -- the more ideologically conservative someone is, the "less likely" they are to believe it is safer to get the Covid-19 vaccine, according to Axios.

"When you begin to reduce trust in experts and agencies telling you that vaccines are safe, you're creating all kinds of susceptibilities that can be exploited for partisan gain," Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said, quoted by Axios.

The study also found a growing number of people believe conspiracy theories about the virus that has killed over 600,000 Americans.

For example, more than a third of Americans, 35 percent, believe that coronavirus is a biological weapon created by China, which was up from 31 percent in April.

Axios reports the news as public officials are sounding alarms over Covid vaccine misinformation leading to flat-lining vaccination rates, especially in convective communities.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy stopped just short of saying Fox News is killing people last week on CNN.

"My worry is that all of this is misinformation that's floating around, it's having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost and that is just tragic," said Murthy when asked by Anchor Dana Bash if conservative media is killing people.

Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in Michigan, took that next step, blaming conservative media for spreading "life-threateningly wrong" information about coronavirus.

"They should listen to their family doctors for medical advice, not Sean Hannity — whom researchers have connected to higher infection rates — or Tucker Carlson, who suggested with zero evidence that Covid-19 vaccines don't work," wrote Dr. Davidson in an NBC News opinion.

He doesn't blame his patients for their refusal to get the highly effective vaccine, he "blame[s] Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7."

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Jason Miller

Screenshot from C-SPAN

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

If there's anything that right-wing chat platforms promising uncensored "free speech" like Gab and Parler have proven, it's that such predicates ensure the platforms will quickly be inundated with the worst people in the world—bigots spewing death threats, hatemongers, disinformation artists, conspiracy theorists, vile misogynists, and terrorists of all stripes. The kind of clients that will doom such networks to permanent deplatforming.

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