How Local Media Spreads Misinformation From Vaccine Skeptics
One radio show that appears to have been part of this effect is Coast to Coast AM, which is syndicated to 640 local stations and reaches nearly three million listeners weekly. Its host, George Noory, has in recent years interviewed Dr Tenpenny, Robert Kennedy Jr., lawyer and anti-vaccine activist, and Erin Elizabeth, founder of Health Nut News and vaccine skeptic.
Understanding the state of vaccination mandates in the United States
The activists used their segments of the show to reinforce their messages. In a promotion for Dr Tenpenny’s appearance to discuss the coronavirus in April 2020, for example, the Coast to Coast AM website said: “She maintains that there are so many unknowns when it comes to testing, tracking, symptoms and other factors, that the information we are given about the disease makes no sense.
This line was shared on Dr Tenpenny’s social media accounts and tweeted by some of his followers.
In a statement, Mr Noory said, “We give all views on my program and that includes people opposed to vaccines. “
Misinformation about vaccines has also been posted on sites that claim to be local news, but are paid content websites. These sites, where articles are commissioned and paid for by conservative think tanks, political agents, business executives and public relations professionals, have sprung up to fill the void left by the loss of local publications.
Recent articles on some of these sites, such as Last Frontier News in Alaska and Bowling Green Today in Kentucky, have highlighted people who have died after receiving the Covid vaccines without saying that it was not clear whether the vaccines were responsible, according to a Times review. The stories followed an established pattern on anti-vaccine blogs of pulling data from a national database on post-vaccine deaths without explaining the limitations of the data.
Last Frontier News and Bowling Green Today did not respond to requests for comment.
At least one local radio host recently retracted his anti-vaccine stance. Phil Valentine, a conservative radio host from Tennessee, had said in a blog post in December that he would not get the vaccine because his chance of dying from the virus was “well below 1%.”
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