Suppressing “Misinformation”

It was the left that initially came up with the phrase “fake news,” but that faded out when Donald Trump made the phrase his own, capitalizing on the grotesque inaccuracy of the liberal media. Then we have the “Big Lie,” which for liberals means the claim that Trump actually won the 2020 election; or, in its milder version (which I think is true) that the election was conducted in such a lax manner that it is impossible to tell who *really* won, if only legal votes were counted. But these days the focus is mostly on “misinformation,” and that misinformation usually relates to covid.

The left loves covid because it is a disease, and as such, a “matter of life and death,” regardless of survival rate. Liberals say that misinformation about covid should be suppressed, as for example Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who suggested on MSNBC that social media companies should censor individuals like Joe Rogan who spread “misinformation.”

Here is some of the dialogue:

“What do you think are the best ways to push back on misinformation about COVID that continues to be aggressively pushed, whether it be Joe Rogan’s podcast or all over Facebook?” asked Brzezinski.

“We can have the best science available, we can have the best public health expertise available. It won’t help people if they don’t have access to accurate information,” responded Murthy. “People have the right to make their own decisions, but they also have the right to have accurate information to make that decision with.”

This is disingenuous. Obviously, people have “access to accurate information.” No one is preventing them from listening to the Surgeon General, the CDC, state departments of health, etc., all of which have vast resources to get their messages out. What Murthy is really saying is not that people should have access to accurate information, but that “inaccurate” information (like that promulgated by Joe Rogan, identified in this interview) should be censored, and that censorship should start with social media companies.

This interview is consistent with many other calls for censorship, in identifying 1) advocacy of “unproven” treatments for covid and 2) questioning the need for, or efficacy of, vaccination as the key misinformation that must be suppressed. Frankly, I find this censorship effort puzzling.

Doctors treat covid. Ivermectin is a prescription drug. Some doctors have found ivermectin, hydroxochloroquine or some other medicine to be effective in reducing covid symptoms. Liberals view such clinical results with horror and demand that they not be publicized. This is antithetical to the scientific method; physicians need to exchange information about what treatments are effective in what circumstances. Yet their efforts to do so have largely been suppressed.

One of the weirdest aspects of the covid epidemic, in my view, is the lack of official attention to treatment of the disease. I have no idea whether, or when, drugs like ivermectin and hydroxochloroquine can mitigate covid symptoms, but public discussion of this question is good, not bad.

As for vaccination, the CDC currently reports that 80% of Americans have gotten at least one shot of vaccine. I don’t know how anyone could have expected a more positive response to the vaccines, especially after politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cast serious doubt on them. It is also hard to understand how the resurgent covid epidemic can be blamed on the fact that a small minority have chosen not to be, or are medically unable to be, vaccinated.

Meanwhile, vaccines can have side effects, and the covid vaccines are no exception. Adverse cardiac effects are most common in young men, who are also at essentially no risk from the disease. I was among the first to be vaccinated, but if I were 19 years old, I would forgo vaccination and take my chances with the very mild omicron variation.

Here, as always, the public is best served by diversity of views and open debate. It is ironic that public health officials are now insisting that covid orthodoxy–whatever it is at the moment–be enshrined, and that all questions, doubts or contrary views be censored, given that public health officials have been consistently wrong about covid, and as a result have frequently had to change their opinions and advice.

I suspect that the current war on covid “misinformation” is largely an effort to deflect attention from the fact that Joe Biden ran on a platform of crushing the covid virus, and instead has presided over a worse epidemic than what existed when he took office. The powers that be have to blame someone; why not Joe Rogan?

But there is more to it than that. The left doesn’t only want to censor information about covid. It also wants to delete everything relating to the “Big Lie,” which in practice means any expression of concern about election integrity, which most Americans agree is a major issue. If we allow the left to censor conversation about covid because it is a “life and death” issue, what follows? Every foreign policy issue is a life or death issue, so should all criticism of the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy be suppressed?

In a country of 330 million people, pretty much everything is a life or death issue, at some level. Immigration, the federal budget, the composition of the Supreme Court–you name it, lives are arguably at stake. Those who believe in free speech think that the more important the issue, the more vital is vigorous debate. The left sees it otherwise: vigorous argument is perhaps admissible over the most trivial question–maybe which “woke” movie should win an Oscar–but on any important issue, the party line is determined first, and all discussion of it is thereafter to be censored.

That is the future we are heading toward if we give in to the left’s war against covid “misinformation.”

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