Fake News Is a Real Public Health Threat
Tucker Carlson’s toxic disinformation about Covid vaccines may well cost someone their life
Let me cut to the chase: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is spreading dangerous disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines. Given his long history of questionable and controversial statements, this isn’t surprising. But this time, his falsehoods may cost someone their life.
On a recent episode of his massively popular prime time show, Carlson reported that nearly 4,000 Americans have died after getting vaccinated against Covid-19. On that, he’s right — those statistics are available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own website.
The problem is that Carlson didn’t stop at the facts. After insisting he was “only asking questions,” he crossed over into speculation. By claiming “it’s clear that what is happening now, for whatever reason, is not even close to normal,” he was trying to link these deaths directly to the Covid vaccines themselves.
Yet again, Carlson is wrong. His assertion of a direct cause-and-effect association between these deaths and the Covid-19 vaccines directly contradicts the CDC’s finding — in bold, and in the same paragraph, Carlson found the number of deaths he reported on the show — that no such causal link exists.
To understand why Carlson’s disinformation campaign is so dangerous, it’s helpful to understand how deaths after vaccination are reported and investigated, the actual role vaccines have had on Covid deaths in the U.S., and how disinformation may ultimately prolong the pandemic here.
How deaths after vaccination are reported
So far, 4,434 deaths have been reported to the vaccine adverse reporting system (VAERS), the early warning system co-managed by the CDC and FDA and established to “detect possible safety problems” in vaccines.
Anyone can submit to VAERS, including physicians, parents, and patients themselves. But health care providers are required to report adverse events after vaccination, including any death regardless of the cause.
CDC and FDA physicians perform an extensive review of any death reported to the system to…