The daughter of a 45-year-old Washington man who died in early September from COVID-19 did not mince words in an interview with CNN’s John Berman a few days ago. Katie Lane blamed some of the blame for her father’s reluctance to get vaccinated at the feet of Fox host Tucker Carlson, most watched host in cable news, blaming him for spreading “disinformation.”
“He watched Tucker Carlson videos on YouTube,” Lane said of his father, who died on September 10 – and who, although not vaccinated, was assumed to be in good health before contracting the coronavirus. “And some of those videos involved misinformation about vaccines. And I think that played a role.”
Because one version of this same situation has played out so many times now, YouTube announced Wednesday that he is implementing a major crackdown on anti-vaccine content on the platform. A seemingly much tougher position, one that prevents tragedies like the one involving Lane’s father.
The video-sharing platform had already started down this path, according to its announcement. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the platform claims to have worked with health experts to develop policies around acceptable content. And since last year, the service claims to have deleted more than 130,000 videos for breaking its rules on the COVID-19 vaccine.
This latest move, meanwhile, finds that the video platform has also banned prominent anti-vaccine accounts, like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and is working to remove any content that falsely claims that vaccines approved by regulators are dangerous. “We have regularly seen false claims about coronavirus vaccines turn into misinformation about vaccines in general, and we are now at a point where it is more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID- 19 to other vaccines. “
Journalists from a wide range of cable and digital outlets quickly weighed, praising this step as necessary and long overdue. Fox News also added its voice to the fray – but for castigate these reporters praising YouTube for its decision. Even though Fox herself has implemented her own version of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees.
In one piece Headlined “Liberal Journalists Celebrate YouTube Censorship of Anti-Vaccine Content,” a Fox writer collected clips from CNN, MSNBC, The Huffington Post and more, suggesting they all reflect an “embrace of the censorship of social media”.
The article gives the final say to Glenn Greenwald, who said it all equated to cardiologists becoming “the top cheerleaders for more smoking.”
As for some of the more high-profile offenders here, Lane’s comments on Carlson, in particular, are interesting for a multitude of reasons.
At the onset of the pandemic, for example, Carlson reportedly took it upon himself to meet with President Trump directly because he apparently believed the former president was not taking the health crisis seriously enough. Based on an account of their two-hour interaction reported by Vanity FairCarlson told Trump the pandemic poses an existential threat to the country. The Fox host even went so far as to walk away from that meeting and soon after told his own viewers that the crisis would be serious.
Since then, however, it has been constantly skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines, although he protested on his show that he was nonetheless “pro-vaccine”. From one of his shows earlier this year:
“If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still prohibited from leading normal lives? Honestly, what’s the answer to that, that doesn’t make any sense at all! If the vaccine is working, there is no reason for vaccinated people to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So maybe it doesn’t work and they just don’t tell you. Well, you’d hate to think that, especially if you’ve had two injections, but what’s the other potential explanation? We can’t think of one.
All of that to say: maybe even crackdowns like YouTube’s won’t go any further if there is still some sort of nodding arrangement between the most-watched cable news host, his audience and his employer on this subject. The latter, Fox Corp., reportedly recently revealed in an internal memo that most employees are vaccinated there. While those who are not have to accept daily testing.
Fox News, in turn, continues to allow its biggest star to use dark, menacing language to warn audiences that vaccines could be dangerous. Here he compares vaccination mandates to tyranny: