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COVID Misinformation Continues At The MRC

The Media Research Center just can't stop portraying spreaders of COVID vaccine falsehoods as "victims" for being held accountable -- and it can't stop spreading its own false or dubious COVID-related claims.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/28/2023

The Media Research Center wants you to believe that misinformation about COVID and its vaccines isn't really misinformation -- it's just someone's opinion, man, and nobody should be "censoring" it even though it could be so dangerous that it gets people killed. Because it furthers the MRC's victimhood narrative, it clung to that belief, particularly at the height of the pandemic. Autumn Johnson complained in an August 2021 post:
Facebook is taking action after pressure from the White House. The Biden administration blamed the platform for the majority of coronavirus “misinformation.”

The news comes after the White House blamed accounts on the platform for spreading misinformation.

"There's about 12 people who are producing 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.


Still, Facebook has not removed every account linked to the original 12 accounts, saying that "the remaining accounts associated with these individuals are not posting content that breaks our rules, have only posted a small amount of violating content, which we've removed, or are simply inactive."

Some argue pressure from the federal government should classify Big Tech social media platforms as “state actors.”

But public health and politics are two very different things. The MRC was a loyal pro-Trump defender during his presidency; did that make it a "state actor"? Note also that Johnson won't admit there's COVID misinformation on Facebook -- she uses scare quotes and refers to "so-called COVID-19 misinformation."

Alexander Hall repeated that narrative in a post a couple days later:

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy nagged social media companies for not doing more to censor so-called misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Murthy in an August 22 appearance of CNN’s State of the Union, the American people are so-called “superspreaders” of misinformation by questioning the government narrative, according to the Biden administration. America’s current surgeon general responded to Facebook’s most recent transparency report by scourging social media

Murthy commented on the “profound cost of health misinformation,” observing that “we’ve been seeing the health misinformation as a problem for years, but the speed, scale and sophistication with which it is spreading and impacting our health is really unprecedented.”

But rather than why he's ranting about "so-called misinformation" instead of admitting that misinformation objectively exists, Hall played victim: "In contrast to Murthy’s claims, Facebook has been notoriously sloppy and all too quick to censor conservatives and narratives with which it disagrees. Facebook fact-checker PolitiFact came after the Media Research Center (MRC) for citing a graphic first released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." As ConWebWatch documented, that was an inaccurate graphic that the MRC used to create a false meme that the Delta variant was nothing to worry about -- meaning that the MRC got busted for pushing misinformation.

Gabriela Parseau continued the denial/victimhood narrative in a post a few days after that:

YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said in a recent blog post that the platform has “removed over 1M videos” with information on COVID-19 since February 2020. He justified censorship in favor of “accountability” and “balance” on the platform.

Mohan downplayed the censorship when he said that YouTube removed allegedly “dangerous coronavirus information.” He claimed that YouTube attempts to “strike a sensible balance between freedom of speech and freedom of reach” and implied that censorship on an “open platform” offers “greater accountability to connect people with quality information.”

The YouTube executive also cited that the platform removes “nearly 10 million videos a quarter.” He admitted, however, that removing too much content can be dangerous. “An overly aggressive approach towards removals would also have a chilling effect on free speech,” said Mohan. “Removals are a blunt instrument, and if used too widely, can send a message that controversial ideas are unacceptable.” [Emphasis added.]

He ignored the fact that YouTube seemingly sends that exact message every time it censors users and health care professionals.

Mohan all but conceded that people define misinformation in different ways but stopped short of admitting that YouTube subjectively defines misinformation and acceptable conversation for its users. “One person’s misinfo is often another person’s deeply held belief, including perspectives that are provocative, potentially offensive, or even in some cases, include information that may not pass a fact checker’s scrutiny,” he said. [Emphasis added.]

Of course, Pariseau and the rest of the MRC believe that any idea that doesn't advance right-wing agendas are "unacceptable," and Parseau won't admit that she's subjectively defining misinformation to advance that very agenda.

Johnson wrote in another post that day:

In a blow to Big Tech, Reddit is refusing to censor so-called “misinformation” about COVID-19, instead choosing to allow “debate, dissent, and protest.”

The online platform is well-known for its users who have anonymous usernames to discuss a wide range of topics, such as politics, sports, video games and more.

Reddit has previously faced criticism for >caving to the left and censoring content, including banning "r/The_Donald, r/ChapoTrapHouse, and about 2,000 other communities," according to The Verge June 29, 2020. The platform also suspended over 7,000 subreddits for alleged “hate” content, despite Reddit's acknowledgement that it is not always able to identify precisely what "hate" means.

Now, Reddit is going against the recent social media platform trends that censor alleged misinformation about COVID-19 and its vaccines.

Actually, the r/The_Donald was notorious for its hate and incitement to violence, and one did not need to "identify precisely what 'hate' means" in order to determine that. Or is Pariseau so morally compromised that she doesn't see anti-liberal hate as "hate"?

The talking point was rehashed again in a September 2021 post by Catherine Salgado:

Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Amazon last week demanding that the company more stringently censor so-called COVID-19 “misinformation.”

Warren (D-MA) wrote her letter on Sept. 7 to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy warning about the spread of “misinformation about COVID-19.” She suggested Amazon enables misinformation by promoting books which the senator claimed contain “falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and cures,” even going so far as including such books on the website’s best-seller list. She accused Amazon of “an unethical, unacceptable, and potentially unlawful course of action.”

Warren stated that when her staff searched the Amazon site with terms such as “COVID-19” and “vaccine,” they discovered that books like The Truth About Covid-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal were included in the top results. The book, written by Dr. Joseph Mercola, is listed as the #1 best-seller in both the “Censorship & Politics” and “Political Freedom” book categories.

The senator asked Amazon to prevent “misinformation” books from becoming best-sellers or showing as top results.

Salgado failed to tell her readers that Mercola is an indisputable quack and his book has been utterly discredited as, yes, misinformation. But because and the rest of the MRC she believes there's no objective definition of misinformation -- except, of course, when non-conservatives do it -- a dangerous quack gets a pass.

Gabriela Pariseau huffed in an August 2021 post:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CBS This Morning host Gayle King that his platform has removed over 18 million pieces of so-called “misinformation,” but King appeared to want more. She pressed Zuckerberg to reveal how many people view the content before it is taken down.

Zuckerberg bragged to King about how much content his platform has removed: “We've taken down more than 18 million pieces of misinformation.” King praised the enormous number as “good” and said she thinks “everybody agrees that Facebook has done a lot to combat misinformation.” But she wanted to know how many people have “acted upon” the information viewed and shared. King then said that Facebook announced it has actually removed 20 million pieces of so-called “misinformation” after she conducted the interview.

Alexander Hall took it further by going full anti-vaxxer in a Sept. 29 post, declaring misinformation to be mere "dissent" and the fact that COVID vaccines are safe and effective as just "the left’s preferred narrative":

Big Tech has been hard at work censoring content that runs afoul of the left’s preferred narrative on COVID-19. Now, YouTube is stepping things up a notch and will reportedly begin removing videos questioning any approved medical vaccine.

COVID-19 turned countless institutions into dystopian enforcers, and YouTube is no exception.

YouTube announced Sept. 29 that it will censor so-called “medical misinformation” concerning vaccinations. The new content purges will cover a wide array of vaccine skepticism: “Specifically, content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects, claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease, or contains misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines will be removed.”

Hall did not explain why spreading deliberate misinformation is "dissent" instead of the lie that it is.

In an October 2021 post, Autumn Johnson declared that "Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that she wants more censorship from Big Tech giants like Facebook," having "joined President Joe Biden and other liberals in calling for more censorship of so-called misinformation online." Johnson went on to put "disinformation" in scare quotes despite offering no evidence that anything that Clinton identified as disinformation was not.

Hall used an Oct. 19 post to hype that Twitter "reportedly censored Grabien Founder and Editor Tom Elliot for questioning the COVID-19 narrative" -- he offered no proof this was the case, only the ranting of other right-wing activists making the unsupported claim. Nevertheless, he added; "Big Tech has used COVID-19 as a carte-blanche excuse to restrict speech that they have deemed to be dangerous misinformation. Yet, at the same time, some of the tech giants have allowed actual dangerous propaganda from foreign powers."

Catherine Salgado played the "so-called" card in a post a couple weeks later:

It’s not the first time a Big Tech executive bragged about censoring speech online, and it likely won’t be the last. A YouTube executive testified at a Senate hearing yesterday that the platform had removed more than one million videos for so-called COVID-19 “misinformation.”

YouTube Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy Leslie Miller testified at an Oct. 26 U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation hearing that the Google-owned platform had removed over a million videos with alleged “COVID misinfo,” including over 130,000 videos on “Covid vaccine misinfo.” The hearing was titled, “Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube.”

Salgado went on to huff: "YouTube has repeatedly censored users for alleged COVID-19 'misinformation.' YouTube censored a Hoover Institute doctor for challenging the COVID-19 narrative in September 2020." That's a reference to a video of onetime Trump COVID adviser (despite having no expertise in virology) Scott Atlas, which the MRC ranted about when it happened in September 2020. But the MRC censored the fact that the video did, in fact, contain documented misinformation; a YouTube spokesperson pointed out that Atlas' video contained a statement "disputing existing international and local health authority guidance by falsely stating that a certain age group cannot transmit the virus."

Maxson still misleading

Jay Maxson is the MRC's resident anti-vaxxer, spreading fearmongering and misinformation (if not outright lies) to scare his (or her) fellow right-wingers against getting COVID vaccines. And despite having been proven to be a liar and misleader, the MRC continued to give Maxson an unchallenged platform to do more of the same in 2023, and he pushed one of those falsehoods in a Jan. 5 post:

The mere mention of young, vaccinated athletes possibly suffering serious health problems as the result of COVID shots is strictly verboten by left-stream media at the mercy of Big Pharma. Mediaite slapped down Charlie Kirk this week for raising the idea that Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest could possibly be related to vaccination.

The Blaze “fire starter” Jason Whitlock insists, however, the subject should be fair game for discussion, in light of Monday’s incident when the Buffalo Bills’ player nearly died after tackling an opponent.

Kirk suggested that a vaccine might be responsible for Hamlin’s injury. “This is a tragic and all too familiar sight right now: Athletes dropping suddenly,” he said on Twitter.

Maxson then got mad that "Mediaite’s Michael Luciano delivered the Left’s obligatory verbal flogging of Kirk for his repeated attempts “to cast doubt on the effectiveness and safety of Covid-19 vaccines.” But he offered no proof that Kirk and Whitlock are right and the critics are wrong.

A Jan. 18 post by Maxson went on to portray people indoctrinated in false anti-vaxx extremism who faced the consequences for believing such lies as victims of the evil "COVID Cartel":

The “COVID Cartel” has censored and canceled American skeptics of the vaccine for nearly three years, but last night several of them told their horror stories on Jason Whitlock’s Fearless special. Silenced no more, many of these victims of Big Government, Big Pharma, Big Tech and Big Media revealed shocking and heartbreaking realities that should never happen in this country.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (Rep-Wis.) called the cover-up of harms caused by the vaccine “corrupt” and “maniacal.” He said the pandemic provided “a golden opportunity to create a climate of fear in order to gain power and control of the citizens.” Along with a persistent state of denial about the collateral damage of the health of many Americans.

In an op-ed last year, Sen. Johnson said the timing of scapegoating the unvaccinated for the ongoing pandemic was no coincidence.

The most poignant portion of the 3-hour-plus Fearless special was the story of Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Famer Ken Ruettgers (in photo), his wife Sheryl and her support group for women suffering ill effects caused by vaccinations. She thought the vaccine was safe, but a day after her shot in 2021, she experienced tingling of her lymph nodes, swelling and burning on her scalp. A baffled neurologist seriously suggested she take the booster shot and just see what happens.

Despite the fact that actual medical experts -- as opposed to the right-wing politicians and sports guys Maxson is citing -- say that such reactions are rare and not a reason to not take the vaccine, went on to cite Ken Mauer Jr, an "NBA official who was fired for refusing to vaccinate, also appeared on Fearless. He said people are being hurt and losing their lives because of adverse reactions, and said he stood on the principle of freedom. A Christian, Mauer says he’s proud to be part of the opposition to the vaccination." Of course, being Christian has nothing whatsoever to do with a desire to put one's health at risk.

Maxson ranted in a Jan. 20 post that several members of a college basketball team coming down with COVID was somehow evidence that the vaccines are worthless:

So the COVID vaccines aren’t really fool-proof? Get outa here! Maybe there’s something the deniers know that the “experts” don’t know. Take Northwestern University’s men’s basketball program; its scheduled game against Iowa Wednesday was postponed, and Saturday’s upcoming game against Wisconsin has been cancelled due to a COVID outbreak on the Wildcats team.

Only six healthy players were available for the Wildcats’ next game against Wisconsin, which announced Thursday night the game “will not be played due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the Northwestern program.”

This wasn’t supposed to happen. COVID, thanks to the incredibly safe and effective vaccines and booster shots, was a thing of the past. Or so we were told by the federal government and censorship-happy Big Tech.

Maxson is being deliberately obtuse and misleading. Continued mutation of COVID means that new variants more easily work around vaccine protection, and protection wears off over time, meaning that people need to get boosters to maintain maximum protection. But even if a vaccine does not completely protect from catching COVID, it does reduce symptoms and the chances of hospitalization and death. But Maxson doesn't care about facts; he (or she) just wants to fearmonger and lie:

Meanwhile, media lemmings across the country who tore unvaccinated athletes apart for not getting jabbed with the incredible shots have egg dripping down their faces. And that’s because vaccines are no more reliable now than they were in the past.

Nearly 700 million doses of vaccinations have been given in the U.S., and just three days ago the CDC was crowing about how safe and effective they are. Problem solved. Not. The CDC’s number is a statistic. The Northwestern COVID outbreak is personal for each of the players who were unsuccessfully vaccinated.

In a Feb. 24 post, Maxson touted an attempt by an anti-vaxxer group (not that it was accurately identified as such) attacking the NFL over vaccine mandates:

COVID vaccinations are safe and effective, no problem mon. Or so we’ve been told ad nauseum by government officials and media lemmings. The NFL has been urged by the Health Freedom Defense Fund (HFDF) to suspend vaccination mandates and to screen for heart issues over serious vaccine side effects. Screening is urgently needed, the Fund said in a letter to the NFL, because vaccines can cause myocarditis, especially among young males.

HFDF is a nonprofit seeking to rectify health injustices by advocating for freedom, choice and bodily autonomy. The Fund’s letter to the National Football League Players Assocation cited eight studies on the subject matter and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s warning labels on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that the drugs come with the risk of pericarditis.

During previous seasons, the NFL heavily pressured all players to be vaccinated. Those few who refused became pariahs. Leslie Manookian , president and founder of the HFDF, told the players union head, DeMaurice Smith, “Safety signals illustrate that the near and long-term health outcomes of the COVID-19 vaccines remain uncertain.”

Maxson went on to uncritically quote Manookian blaming vaccines for the on-field collapse of NFL player Damar Hamlin, despite no actual evidence proving that. Then he found an anti-vaxxer doctor to spread his propaganda:

One can almost hear the screeching lefties on television condemning this letter that flies in the face of their nonstop “safe and effective” campaign. Nevertheless, Dr. Anish Koka, a Philadelphia cardiologist, said it’s not “unreasonable for the NFL Players Association to at least consider the fact that young healthy men now are such low risk of COVID, do you want to take the risk of myocarditis related to the vaccine?”

Dr. Koka is skeptical about screening all the NFL players because it could affect the free agent market. This argument is thin, however, because practically all NFL players have been vaccinated, free agents included.


The HFDF recommendation deserves a response from and honest consideration by the NFLPA. It should not be dismissed out of hand by shrill media lapdogs for the government’s “safe and effective” mantra.

Maxson is a lapdog for people who put misinformation before facts. Doesn't anyone at the MRC bother to fact-check Maxson's work before publishing it?

Promoting misinformer Malone

As one more part of the MRC's newly fawning coverage of CPAC -- a right-wing conference it has boycotted off and on over the years, in no small part because it would give MRC chief Brent Bozell a sufficiently prominent speaking slot -- a March 7 post by Paiten Iselin and Gabriela Pariseau bestowed right-wing victimhood on a fellow traveler:

The harms of Big Tech’s COVD-19 censorship continue to ripple throughout America, vaccine scientist Dr. Robert Malone told MRC Free Speech America.

“People have been prevented from obtaining informed consent because of the censorship,” Malone said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday. Malone is an inventor of the mRNA vaccine technology used in COVID-19 vaccines. His concerns about COVID-19 vaccines repeatedly landed him in hot water with the Big Tech COVID-19 narrative police.

Malone noted that online censorship has a tangible – and potentially lethal – impact offline as well. “[P]atients aren’t getting that preventative care because the physicians are being, and the patients are being, blocked from understanding about it, and that means there'll be additional avoidable excess deaths in the future,” he said.

Malone warned of the dangers of silencing scientific discussion online. “The consequence of [COVID-19 censorship] is that physicians who might otherwise be able to provide preventative care to their patients are not aware of what the risks are,” he said.

Platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube have all attempted to silence Malone’s posts or media appearances.

In December of 2021, Twitter suspended Malone for allegedly sharing “misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.” LinkedIn also ousted Malone who wrote, “No explanations, no warnings were given.”

Big Tech’s repeated censorship of COVID-19 information showcases the platforms’ aversion to truth, debate and scientific discussion.

In fact, Malone has been repeatedly exposed as a spreader of COVID-related misinformation (which is why WorldNetDaily loves him). That starts with Iselin and Pariseau's claim that he is "an inventor of the mRNA vaccine technology"; in fact, all he did was some early research into the subject. As ConWebWatch has documented, Malone has attacked the vaccine he "invented"; signed the "Great Barrington Declaration," which advocated for dangerous "herd immunity" at a time when no vaccines were yet available and COVID was killing thousands daily; and his new book has a foreword by wacky anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr. It was a misinformation-laden interview Malone did with podcaster Joe Rogan that played a key role in the MRC rushing to defend Rogan last year.

But Iselin and Pariseau don't want to talk about how Malone has deliberately misled people -- he's the MRC's kind of manufactured victim, and that's all that matters: "Big Tech’s repeated censorship of COVID-19 information showcases the platforms’ aversion to truth, debate and scientific discussion." And, of course, they named Malone's partner in COVID misinformation, Peter McCullough, as another purported victim.

Even as the COVID threat decreased, the MRC was still pumping out misinformation, Luis Cornelio shilled for anti-vaxxers in a May 24 post:

The Biden administration plotted to hide COVID-19 vaccine injuries, a damning lawsuit claims.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) accused the Biden administration of hatching a scheme to mandate that Big Tech companies censor content posted by individuals who were reportedly injured by the COVID-19 vaccines. The lawsuit, which NCLA announced on May 22, asserted that the plaintiffs are not “anti-vaxxers,” as one of the plaintiffs received the vaccine voluntarily while others did so under mandate pressure. 

The NCLA directly mentioned the government-tied Standford Internet Observatory’s Virality Project and accused it of working in concert with the federal government to censor speech. Twitter Files #19 exposed the infamous Virtality Project for monitoring social media and asking platforms to censor true content related to the pandemic. Journalist and author Matt Taibbi called the findings “ The Great Covid-19 Lie Machine.”

Cornelio didn't mention that the NCLA is funded by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch and has an anti-vaxxer bent so pronounced that it's been praised by notorious anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist Robert Kennedy Jr. He also failed to offer any proof that the alleged injuries were actually caused by the vaccines.

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