The liberal reporters on the “misinformation” beat and those “independent fact-checkers” are very aggressive about squashing information about COVID-19 that is either flat-out untrue or opposed to the (sometimes fluctuating) findings of government agencies. Sadly, these so-called guardians of truth aren’t as aggressive about narratives that mock anti-vaccine activists and COVID skeptics.
The obvious case in point is Rolling Stone’s latest fact-mangling embarrassment. They put out a report on Sept. 3 with this tweet: “Gunshot victims left waiting as horse dewormer overdoses overwhelm Oklahoma hospitals, doctor says.”
“Horse dewormer” means ivermectin, which is also used as a “human dewormer.”
Almost nothing about this tweet was true. The hospital featured in the story stated they had “not treated any ivermectin overdoses.” The doctor talking about crowded emergency rooms wasn’t on staff at the hospital. And even the picture accompanying the tweet was an obviously fake image of a waiting line in the winter months for a vaccine drive.
Seven years ago, Rolling Stone foisted a campus rape hoax on a fraternity at the University of Virginia, and it cost them $1.6 million in damages. But for some reason, liberals keep greeting this baby-boomer rock music magazine as a serious and credible “news” outlet.
Drew Holden tweeted that those who fell for the story included The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona, Daily Kos, Daily Mail, The Guardian, Newsweek, New York Daily News, The Hill, MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson, former CNN pundit Roland Martin, disgraced reporter Kurt Eichenwald, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, and “Stephanie Ruhle Reports” producer Lauren Peikoff (who admirably fessed up and deleted her tweet, unlike Maddow).
At least this fable didn’t surface on most of cable. The exception was MSNBC host Joy Reid, who had to mock the people “swallowing horse paste” with an accompanying graphic of a Business Insider story with the title, “Oklahoma’s ERs are so backed up with people overdosing on ivermectin that gunshot victims are having to wait to be treated, a doctor says.”
So have all the “fact-checkers” jumped to correct this fake news from Rolling Stone? AP Fact Check? No. FactCheck.org? No. PolitiFact? No, but they did spotlight an August check on ivermectin use for COVID (mostly false). Snopes.com? No, but they did post checks on “Does ivermectin cause sterility in men?” (unproven) and “Did ivermectin win a Nobel Prize?” (yes). The Washington Post? No, but they posted a check, “False meme: Nobel laureate did not say ivermectin ‘cures’ COVID.”
Only two “mainstream” fact-checkers noticed Rolling Stone’s fiasco. LeadStories.com, which often causes stories to be blocked on Facebook, and CNN’s Daniel Dale, who took the strange stance of scolding everyone involved, including the debunkers.
On Twitter, Dale concluded: “This was not great by anyone in the sharing chain. But then, some (of) the people criticizing others for jumping to conclusions themselves jumped to conclusions based on a release from one OK hospital system that said it hadn’t seen any patients with ivermectin problems.”
Dale also appeared on CNN’s “New Day” and repeated this line about everyone jumping to conclusions. Brian Stelter, a supposed scold of misinformation, buried a link to Dale’s work in the bottom half of his newsletter with just 37 words that excluded Rolling Stone or any other liberal journalist from blame.
The conspiracy theory that emerges from this pattern is that the liberal “misinformation” watchers would like to cement the false impression that only right-wing, pro-Trump sites post fake stories and tweets. Picking up on Rolling Stone’s fraudulent presentation? That only confuses the narrative of who should be blamed for poisoning the information system.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.