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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

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This Week in Corona Scams: Vaccine Hot Take Takedown

This Week in Corona Scams, we understand the feeling of being stuck in an indefinite feedback loop when it comes to the actual medical science of COVID-19 and the vaccines, the actual facts on the ground, and the increasingly surreal “hot takes” that flood traditional and social media. Before anyone says anything else about any alleged “cancel culture”, we need to cancel the lies and examine whether there’s any truth to any of these viral “hot takes”.

I don’t care how #based your “hot takes” are. If they’re wrong, they’re wrong. Period.

In our most recent “Web of Hate” story, we peeled back some more layers of the rather malodorous onion that is our Influencer Infodemic. Today, we need to revisit something we touched upon last week due to its relevance to the topics at hand here. During his appearance on disinformation enthusiast Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast, “dirtbag leftist” livestreamer Jimmy Dore became the latest media pundit to complain about “cancel culture” because scientists, journalists, and other citizens push back against specious claims of “vaccine injury” and “game changing miracle cures” like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

We’ve already gone through a hell of a lot of data showing that hydroxychloroquine does not work against COVID-19 no matter how many media pundits wishcast to the contrary. More recently, a study that was featured in The Lancet this past January and another study featured in Nature this past April just add to the ample scientific consensus that hydroxychloroquine does not treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19.

While we still await the results of the Oxford Principle Trial on ivermectin’s use on COVID-19 patients, we now have multiple other reputable studies indicating that ivermectin probably also does not treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19. More recently the nonprofit Cochrane Library reviewed available study data and found no conclusive evidence of ivermectin working against COVID-19, and Research Square retracted a pro-ivermectin study that they had published last November after a British medical student and outside medical science experts found evidence of plagiarism, inconsistent data, and outright falsified results in this study.

Pierre Kory and Bret Weinstein have decried “censorship” of their ivermectin (as a “COVID-19 cure”) advocacy, yet a simple Google search shows their own pages and pages supportive of them high on the search results. Funny enough, that same Google search will probably also include links to the data we’re discussing here. Just because some pundit or “influencer” purports to be “anti-establishment” and shitposts #based “hot takes” does not mean this pundit or “influencer” is telling the truth, and just because this pundit or “influencer” claims “censorship” because they get public pushback does not indicate any kind of “cancel culture that stifles dissent”.

This is not #based. This is a basic failure to do any basic fact-checking.

But wait, there’s more: Because inviting the notorious overpriced vitamin peddler Alex Jones onto his Spotify podcast to spread anti-vaccine disinformation last October wasn’t enough, Joe Rogan allowed Jimmy Dore to spread more anti-vaccine disinformation on his podcast last week. Dore essentially used Rogan’s Spotify platform to further amplify the kinds of bizarre “vaccine injury” rumors that anti-vaccine “influencers” like Naomi Wolf and the founders of the Centner Academy elite Miami private school peddle.

Fact check: These “vaccine injury” rumors may go viral on social media, but that still doesn’t mean there’s any truth to them. It’s still hard for me to grasp that in 2021, I have to point out that vaccines do not enable time travel, do not cause any “shedding” of any spike proteins, do not contain any “Mark of the Beastmicrochips, and do not automatically sterilize everyone who gets “the jab”. 

While there have been confirmed reports of certain adverse reactions that may have led to serious complications like blood clots and myocarditis, these have been incredibly rare. And for all the anti-vaxxers’ claims of “cover-up!”, they’re basing their own accusations on their misinterpretation of publicly available data

Speaking of Naomi Wolf, why has she joined Donald Trump’s lawsuit against “Big Tech”? And really, what’s the point of this lawsuit?
Donald Trump, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Photo by Andrew Davey

Let’s check in on Naomi Wolf again – The feminist icon turned anti-vaccine propagandist signed onto former President Donald Trump’s class action lawsuit where they and their fellow plaintiffs demand that the federal courts reinstate all their banned/restricted social media accounts, grant punitive damages, and strike down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as unconstitutional. 

As we’ve previously discussed, any repeal or overturning of Section 230 actually carries more – not less! – risk of censorship. Section 230 essentially functions as a nationwide anti-SLAPP law that protects content creators, social media platform operators, and other online intermediaries that host and/or republish digital speech from frivolous lawsuits that aim to silence us just because they don’t like what we have to say. While some legal and technology experts have expressed frustration over how “Big Tech” companies like Alphabet/Google and Facebook have taken advantage of Section 230 to evade accountability for their profiting off disinformation, civil libertarians and internet freedom advocates point to the current “reforms” and wholesale abolition proposals on the table as proof that as imperfect as Section 230 may seem, it nonetheless performs a critical duty in protecting America’s digital public spaces from the kinds of judicial censorship that the U.K. experiences under its libel laws – and there’s ample evidence that British libel laws don’t even work in preventing the spread of disinformation there.

Thus far Trump’s and Wolf’s legal team have failed to provide any actual legal rationale for this lawsuit, and there are two simple reasons why: They have no legal or factual legs to stand upon. As the old saying goes – When you don’t have the facts on your side, cite the law. When you don’t have the law on your side, launch another astroturf fundraising campaign to grab some coins and press hits. If Bret Weinstein can do it, why not Donald Trump?

Here’s a local TWICS update. This illustrates the actual danger of disinformation.
Carolyn Goodman, Las Vegas, COVID-19, coronavirus, vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine science
Photo by Andrew Davey

In April 2020, Nevada made national and international headlines thanks to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman not just picking public fights against Governor Steve Sisolak’s (D) public health safety agenda, but also openly calling for Las Vegas to be reopened as a “control group”. In a strange way, Goodman eventually got what she wanted as Sisolak agreed to a rushed reopening schedule less than two months later… Then again when the state dropped nearly all remaining public health safety rules on June 1, only for Nevada to reinstate the mask mandate for the vast majority of the state following our latest Delta-fueled COVID-19 resurgence.

Last year, Goodman attracted a new crowd of far-right fans and admirers due to her Trump-like dismissal of COVID-19 as a public health emergency. At the time, numerous public health experts across Nevada and America warned of the consequences of Goodman’s “control group” rhetoric. And since last year, Goodman has dug in her heels and aligned herself with far-right allies in Las Vegas City Hall who often seemed to be more interested in shitposting their own #based “hot takes” (and possibly taking and misusing certain campaign funds) than serving their constituents.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Goodman announced during a city council meeting that she tested positive for COVID-19. She claimed, “I had both my shots,” which means she suffered a breakthrough infection if she indeed got vaccinated. As we previously noted most Americans face far less risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 if they’re fully vaccinated, though Goodman herself may face more risk due to her age and experience as a cancer survivor.

I have zero interest in dunking on Goodman or taking any kind of pleasure in her diagnosis, so let’s just not go there. Instead let’s take notes on how Goodman herself got caught in the COVID-19 disinformation vortex, and let’s remember that a large segment of Americans remain at risk due to the vaccine disinformation that’s fueling both the vaccine refusal crisis and the current Delta variant COVID-19 resurgence. At least Goodman issued her own COVID-19 vaccine PSA yesterday, so we’ll have to see if her fans are paying attention now.

Finally, some closing thoughts on the real-world consequences of the Influencer Infodemic and their (not reality)#based “hot takes”

Though the overall landscape on America’s currently slow COVID-19 vaccine uptake is more complex than a simple partisanship test, it’s nonetheless becoming increasingly undeniable that the Influencer Infodemic has played a major role in converting the initially vaccine curious or vaccine hesitant into anti-vaccine “culture warriors”. We really need to keep this in mind as we witness the juxtaposition of politicians near and far who seek to go viral with their “hot takes” versus the horrifying images of people who succumb to COVID-19 despite the widespread availability of the vaccines.

It’s becoming painfully clear that we need better COVID-19 vaccine uptake if we want a better chance of ending this pandemic sooner instead of dragging it out indefinitely. Yet as long as “Big Tech” social media platforms and traditional corporate media outlets continue to reward “spicy hot takes” over trustworthy medical science, we will continue to have a hard time convincing more Americans to choose science over fiction.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m just not really into the “hot take” business any more. But if I absolutely must provide one, here goes – Mask up while our fellow Americans vax up, and remind everyone that the more we vax up, the more this virus goes down.

If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability in your area, check Nevada Health Response for testing in your area, and check Nevada 211 for more health care resources. If you’re in need of additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square. And for goodness sake, please maintain best practices to help stop the spread.

The cover photo was taken by me. 

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Comments (2)

  1. […] Washoe County School District (WCSD) to disrupt board meetings, rail against mask mandates, spread anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, complain about school curricula that dare to be better inclusive of our whole population and […]

  2. […] a plan to utilize their network of local community corps alongside the FDA decision to counter the Influencer Infodemic that’s been undermining America’s confidence in the vaccines: “We’ve been building this […]

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