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Tucker Carlson’s Big Vaccine Lie Could Kill Thousands

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

On May 5, Fox News and Tucker Carlson added another entry to their laundry list of reckless and incendiary claims regarding COVID-19: "Official government data" indicates dozens of people a day are dying after receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.


Carlson inaccurately asserted that thousands of people have died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, claiming that "between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the COVID vaccine in the United States" and that even though the data was "not quite up to date," we "can assume that another 360 people at that rate have died in the 12 days since. You put it all together, and that is a total of 3,722 deaths. That's almost 4,000 people who died after getting the COVID vaccines. The actual number is almost certainly higher than that, perhaps vastly higher than that."

His monologue continued and included claims from an unnamed physician that we're currently living through the "single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history":

In just the first four months of this year, the U.S. government has recorded more deaths after COVID vaccinations than from all other vaccines administered in the United States between mid-1997 and the end of 2013. That is a period of 15 and a half years. Again, more people, according to VAERS, have died after getting the shot in four months during a single vaccination campaign than from all other vaccines combined over more than a decade and a half. Chart that out. It's a stunning picture. Now, the debate is over what it means. Again, there is a lot of criticism of the reporting system. Some people say, well, it's just a coincidence if someone gets a shot and then dies, possibly from other causes. No one really knows, is the truth. We spoke to one physician today who actively treats COVID patients. He described what we are seeing now as the single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history. Whatever is causing it, it is happening as we speak.

The sensational claims Carlson is parroting regarding a mass of unaddressed potentially COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths have been circulating online and on social media for months, and they are based on deeply unreliable data from the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS allows the public open access to report incidents of adverse reactions to vaccinations. As PolitiFact explained:

It's designed so that anyone — parents, patients and health care professionals — can freely report any health effects that occur after a vaccination, according to the CDC, whether or not those effects are believed to be caused by the vaccine. The reports are not verified before they're entered into the database. But anyone with a computer can search the data, download it, sort through the numbers and interpret them as they wish.
That makes VAERS fertile ground for vaccine misinformation that spreads widely on social media and elsewhere. Even though VAERS warns its users that reports should not be used on their own to determine whether a vaccine caused or contributed to a particular illness, many who tap into the system do that anyway, citing these government statistics to justify broader conclusions about what they consider the dangers of vaccines.

What Carlson brushed off as "criticism of the reporting system" actually relates to fundamental methodological decisions that are key to understanding what VAERS data actually measures, and they completely undercut Carlson's argument.

As radiologist Pradheep J. Shanker (incidentally, a contributor to the right-wing National Review) explained in a lengthy tweet thread, VAERS is intended to serve as a "catch all" system that allows for minor complications to be identified while also dealing with a significant amount of statistical "noise." VAERS' own data guide states that "a report to VAERS," including reports of death, "generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report."

A longer disclaimer on the VAERS website explicitly states that the data relies on self-reporting and should not be regarded as complete or authoritative: "While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. In large part, reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases. This creates specific limitations on how the data can be used scientifically. Data from VAERS reports should always be interpreted with these limitations in mind."

VAERS screenshot disclaimer

VAERS disclaimer

VAERS requires people interested in exploring the dataset to acknowledge two separate disclaimers explaining the limitations of the data. When a person downloads VAERS data, they receive yet another disclaimer, stating that "the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not infer causality."

VAERS disclaimer warning

VAERS disclaimer warning

VAERS download disclaimer

In this instance, either Fox News, Carlson, and his team failed to even attempt to verify the numbers they were presenting viewers, or they knew of the VAERS methodological shortcomings, which users are required to acknowledge twice, and chose to brush them off in favor of a monologue designed to terrify their audience. And despite these clear limitations, Carlson repeated arguments, made by vaccine skeptic Toby Rogers no less, that the perceived under-reporting of adverse vaccine reactions to VAERS actually means that we have no way of knowing the true number of incidents, and that they're likely much higher. "Nobody [knows] and we are not going to speculate about it on the show," Carlson declared.

But that data does exist. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention oversees VAERS, it also runs the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink, which documents reports of adverse vaccine reactions through health care professionals and requires more rigorous standards of documentation and reporting. Despite Carlson's claims that "you are not allowed to" mention the nearly 4,000 deaths reported to VAERS for fear of being "pulled off the internet" if you do, the CDC itself addresses the reports on its website.

CDC VAERS

The CDC's comments about reports sent to VAERS were notably absent from Fox's broadcast. Carlson's assertion that the government won't "acknowledge" or investigate this alleged avalanche of mass death is even more starkly contradicted by the recent temporary removal of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from circulation while the CDC investigated a half-dozen reports of blood clots in recipients.

What's clear is that Carlson has become the network's nexus of vaccine skepticism, spending months denouncing the effort to get the public vaccinated and insinuating that the drugs may not be safe or effective and that scientists who say otherwise are lying.

Fox News has abandoned all pretext of being a news and information channel in favor of unrestrained reactionary politics with Carlson as the centerpiece. Nearly half of Republicans now say they don't want a COVID-19 vaccine, and there is no doubt that Carlson and Fox played a part in creating that number. Advertisers and cable companies supporting Fox are propping up the nation's most prominent vaccine skeptic -- and they bear just as much responsibility for the consequences as the Murdochs and Carlson's enablers at Fox.

Meanwhile, Pfizer, which of course makes one of the COVID-19 vaccines that Carlson is scaremongering about, is currently one of Fox News' leading advertisers-- meaning that the company is essentially subsidizing baseless accusations against its wildly successful product.

Update (5/6/21 10 p.m. EDT): On his show the following evening, Carlson doubled down on his inaccurate segment, without engaging with any of the myriad criticisms that has been aimed at him in the ensuing 24 hours.

Carlson repeated his claim that "more deaths have been connected to the new COVID vaccines over the past four months and to all previous vaccines combined." Carlson again blatantly misinterpreted VAERS data, instead blaming the entire episode on the Biden administration (even as people across the political spectrum try to correct his lies), and finally sarcastically declaring that "anyone who asks" about the potential harms of the vaccine "is immoral."


Carlson blamed "partisans" for widespread criticism of his remarks, backlash comes from people across the political spectrum as well as fact-checkers. Prominent conservative figures, including Carlson's own colleagues, criticized the segment, notably off the air.

Dr. Nicole Saphier, Fox News medical contributor:

Jonah Goldberg, Fox News contributor:

How Fox News Channel Invented The Biden 'Burger Ban'

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Update (4/26/21 4 p.m.): This piece has been updated, to include Fox News anchor John Roberts' on-air correction Monday.

After a right-wing British news site introduced a blatant lie about President Joe Biden's green-energy and infrastructure proposals — fraudulently suggesting that the administration is attempting to limit people to having one hamburger a month — Fox News then stepped up as the venue to amplify it into a much wider and frankly embarrassing discourse with its American audience.

In doing so, the network's purported "news"-side personalities are just as guilty as the officially billed opinion hosts, who have all contributed to this fake story now being spread by high-level Republican politicians. For one, the Biden administration does not have a specific plan yet —but rather an outline of goals to reduce emissions, with a focus on transitioning to clean-energy infrastructure. There is nothing about mandating a virtual end to meat consumption — nor would there ever be in any eventual plan from an administration in the real world — not that the network's anchors would acknowledge such facts.

This latest narrative is in fact a revival of a false attack that right-wing media have been pushing for at least two years, attempting to exploit and discredit any proposal to reduce pollution that affects the climate, and turn it into a vast conspiracy of government controls.

This time, right-wing media are distorting a University of Michigan study from 2020, which found that "replacing half of all animal-based foods in the U.S. diet with plant-based alternatives could reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions 1.6 billion metric tons by 2030." The study's lead author told CNN's Daniel Dale over the weekend: "I, admittedly, have no idea what Biden's plan has to say about our diets."

Essentially, in right-wing media's telling, Biden wants to reduce emissions by shifting to green energy and electric vehicles; this old study said that slashing meat consumption would reduce emissions; therefore, Biden wants to cut meat consumption. (This is a misuse of the transitive property of mathematics, a seemingly easy concept that is in fact "useful to study in order to avoid mistakes in situations where it doesn't hold.")

The right-wing British outlet The Daily Mail started this new cycle of false attacks with a headline claiming, "Biden's climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH." The article cited "a study by Michigan University's Center for Sustainable Systems," without mentioning that the study was a year old and unrelated to any Biden plans. Soon,Fox News picked up this rhetorical sleight of hand on both its "news" and "opinion" sides.

On Friday's edition of America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith, co-anchor Roberts opened a segment by declaring: "Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the climate agenda. That's the finding of one study."

Roberts claimed that "researchers say" people would have to cut meat in order to meet Biden's climate goals, while an on-screen graphic cited the University of Michigan. A chyron at the bottom of the screen throughout the segment claimed "bye-bye burgers under Biden's climate plan."

Roberts and Smith then brought on Fox Business host and former Trump administration economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Roberts opened the discussion with a joking reference to the Wendy's fast-food advertising campaign from the 1980s, "Where's the Beef?"

And on Fox's late night news time slot, anchor Shannon Bream opened her broadcast by rhetorically asking viewers: "Could new climate impact plans limit you to just one burger a month?"

Fox News White House correspondent Kevin Corke falsely claimed: "The Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan says cutting, quote, 'small diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by half' could help reach Biden's climate numbers by the 2030 target date." (The Michigan study did not talk about Biden's plans or any government mandates.)

Bream responded: "OK. About the burger thing, I'm not going to comply with that. So, I'm wondering, can you buy credits, like you can go buy the carbon credits. Can I buy, like, cheeseburger credits? Because I'm willing to do that — I'm not willing to go one burger a month."



But then in an odd development, Roberts ran a short correction on Monday in which he acknowledged that the University of Michigan study was from 2020. He then blamed "a graphic and a script" for having "incorrectly implied" that limiting meat consumption "was part of Biden's plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case."


The segment in question had featured an on-screen graphic claiming to explain "Biden's climate requirements," with the citation to the University of Michigan,. failing to mention that the study was from 2020. But the segment also involved multiple other chyrons, such as the aforementioned "Bye-bye burgers under Biden's climate plan" as well as "Study: 90% of red meat out with Biden climate plan" and "Biden's climate plan burns all-you-can-eat burgers."

Roberts himself had said in that segment: "In order to help hit the Biden administration's climate goals of reducing emissions by 50% from 2005 [levels] by 2030, researchers say you'd have to cut about 90% of red meat from your diet." Roberts, Smith, and Kudlow never acknowledged that the study was from 2020 and unconnected to any current proposals from the White House.

Roberts now appears to be implying that the words he said on the air as a news anchor were simply "a script," thus passing responsibility to others.

Fox Opinion And "News" Anchors Promote Same Falsehoods

The coverage from Fox's "news"-side personalities was indistinguishable from the "opinion" hosts, as they dishonestly told their viewers that Biden's climate goals or some direstly related study discussed banning burgers. Viewers were never told that the study being cited was a year old and not connected to the White House's proposals.

On Friday morning's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that "part of [Biden's] climate or green targets are to cut our red meat. He wants to cut out 90% of the red meat that you all eat." Fox Nation host Rachel Campos-Duffy said in response that Biden never would have won Wisconsin in 2020, where she lives, if the public had known he was going to make this proposal.

Fox Business host Charles Payne also claimed that "one analysis of the plan" said that Biden's climate goals would cut meat consumption, which an on-screen graphic called "Biden policy effect on meat." Payne further compared the proposal to the 1970s dystopian sci-fi movie Soylent Green.

And on Kudlow's Fox Business show — around 90 minutes after he had just appeared with Roberts and Smith — the host cited "a study coming out of the University of Michigan, which says that to meet the Biden Green New Deal targets," Americans would have to stop eating meat. Kudlow then repeatedly warned that people would be subjected to the horrors of "plant-based beer" on the Fourth of July. Beer, of course, is a plant and fungi-based product to begin with, and Kudlow earned public mockery from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and many others on Twitter.

But on the other hand, Kudlow's parade of horribles does make a bit of sense when one realizes that he has made a successful career in both right-wing media and the government out of being wrong on just about everything.




Then things got even more absurd on Saturday night, starting with Fox host Jesse Watters on his show Watters' World.

"The Democrats always said they want government to stay out of the bedroom — but it looks like the government just walked downstairs into your kitchen," Watters said. "Because Americans are going to have to cut their red meat consumption by 90%, in order to reduce emissions to hit Biden's target. That means you're only allowed to eat four pounds of red meat a year. That adds up to a burger a month — that's it."

Of course, there is no such forthcoming government mandate.

Fox host Jeanine Pirro, meanwhile, told any of her viewers who might enjoy a burger that "the left with their Green New Deal wants to make sure you don't."

By this point, neither Watters nor Pirro even bothered to cite the misused study from the University of Michigan — instead, the accusation of the Biden administration virtually eliminating meat consumption had simply been given its own independent existence, without even requiring a pretext of any evidence.

Pirro went with a visual that simply must be seen to be believed:



Dominion Voting Systems Files $1.6 Billion Defamation Lawsuit Against Fox News

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Fox News has been hit with yet another massive lawsuit for peddling lies about fraud in the 2020 election.

Dominion Voting Systems on Friday sued the right-wing cable channel for $1.6 billion, alleging that Fox News knew the voting machine company did not engage in any fraud, yet peddled those lies because it was losing viewers to other far-right cable channels that were also telling those lies.

"Fox set out to lure viewers back — including President Trump himself — by intentionally and falsely blaming Dominion for President Trump's loss by rigging the election," Dominion said in the lawsuit.

The company's complaint said, "Fox News took a small flame and turned it into a forest fire" by airing "fictions" and giving them "a prominence they otherwise never would have achieved."

The lawsuit added, "The truth matters. Lies have consequences. Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process."

This is now the second lawsuit Fox News faces for its lies about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

In February, Smartmatic USA sued Fox News and three of its hosts — Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro — for $2.7 billion. Dobbs' show was taken off the air by the network the day after the lawsuit was filed.

Ultimately, multiple recounts, audits, and reviews of the election found there was no fraud, and that voting machine companies like Dominion did not switch votes — as Trump and his GOP allies have alleged.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the 2020 election was the "most secure in American history." Meanwhile, the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security released a joint report specifically debunking the claims that voting machine companies like Dominion switched votes from Trump to President Joe Biden.

After Dominion filed the lawsuit, Fox News issued a statement saying the outlet is "proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court."

However, Fox News in February aired a segment specifically fact-checking lies its own hosts had made about voter fraud.

The lies spread by Fox News hosts and contributors, as well as from Trump and other Republican lawmakers about voter fraud, have contributed to a massive GOP effort to suppress the vote in future elections.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed a voter suppression law that requires ID to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes to hand in absentee ballots, allows Republican state election officials to take over county election boards run by Democrats, and even makes it a crime to hand out food and drink to voters waiting in line to vote. That law is already being challenged in court.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

#EndorseThis: John Oliver Burns Fox News Over Seuss 'Controversy'

If there is one thing Fox News does well, it is absurd exaggeration. And with their wall to wall coverage of the "canceling" of Dr. Seuss, they've achieved a new level of fantasy. Actually Dr. Seuss Enterprises' simply decided to stop printing a handful of books for racist imagery .This not "fascism, as Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck burbled.

John Oliver is fed up with this nonsense, and on Last Week Tonight he ruthlessly destroyed Fox for its deceptive news management. .Is this surprising? No, but John Oliver makes turns it into hilarity. Unless you work for Fox.



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