Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that authorities are lying about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine because of their efforts to stop disinformation about the vaccine from spreading on social media. However, by “authorities” the host seems to mean media outlets and moderators of social media networks rather than federal health officials working for President Joe Biden’s administration.
The QuoteIn a Tuesday segment on The Tucker Carlson Show discussing possible adverse side effects caused by the COVID-19 vaccine, the show’s titular host said:
“From the very first day, the way the authorities handled the COVID vaccine did not inspire confidence. If the vaccine was so great, why were all these people lying about it? Honest question. And they were lying. Clearly, they were lying. You know that for certain because from the moment that COVID vaccine arrived, the most powerful people in America work to make certain that no one could criticize it.”
He then went on to list vaccine proponent Melinda Gates, news outlets CNN and Vox and the social media networks of Twitter and Facebook as the “authorities” in question.
He later said that he and his family will get the vaccine because after doing his own research on its safety, “I was convinced that the consensus (of it being safe) was probably right.”
Why It MattersCarlson’s larger argument was that people should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccine, its safety and any adverse reactions people have had to it. However, he claims, that Gates, mainstream media outlets and social media managers will prevent such discussions from taking place, thus undermining the narrative that the vaccine is safe.
Trust in the vaccine is especially important if the U.S. ever hopes of achieving the 70 percent of immunity within the population required to end the pandemic, according to Science Magazine. However, a late January poll by YouGov found that only 51 percent of Americans said they were willing to get the vaccine.
Not everyone who fears the vaccine is an anti-vaxxer, Carlson said, and research by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, agrees.
People adverse to receiving the vaccine often fear negative health effects, feel suspiciously of medical authorities or haven’t had their concerns addressed by the information available on the websites of the World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In order to grow public trust in the vaccine, public awareness efforts will need to meet skepticism with science.
The CounterpointBy his own admission, none of the “authorities” that Carlson mentioned in his show’s opening monologue are scientists or epidemiologists, and all of them were speaking out about the need for news and social media networks to stop the flow of disinformation about the vaccine, not censoring those who merely question its efficacy.
As proof of “lying” authorities, Tucker cited a December 19, 2020 article on Vox which stated that, despite efforts to stop vaccine disinformation, Facebook and Twitter still allowed memes and posts suggesting that the vaccine comes with extreme side effects or are part of a government social control effort. Among these were posts claiming that the vaccine will “attack the uterus,” “alter your DNA” and links to the widely banned Plandemic video which claimed that powerful elites planned the global release of COVID-19.
Carlson also mentioned a CNN article about a Facebook group named “COVID-19 Vaccine Injury stories” which later resulted in the group being removed. However, while Facebook announced on Monday that it would remove false claims about vaccines—including “claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people… cause infertility.. or side effects that are incredulous or irrational”—the social network allows users to share their individual experiences with vaccines on their personal pages.
Carlson even mentioned that The New York Times published a story stating that the vaccine may trigger a fatal blood disorder in a small number of people. As of February 9, this story could still be found on both Twitter and Facebook, despite Tucker’s worries that both networks would censor such content.
Newsweek contacted Facebook for comment.
On the Tuesday installment of The Tucker Carlson Show on Fox News, Carlson claimed that authorities were lying about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, but his authorties were mostly limited to news and social media networks rather than any health officials with President Joe Biden’s administration. In this January 11, 2021 photo, Biden receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination from Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.