Friday, December 18, 2020


This is dangerous:
... after her [election] assertions were widely derided and failed to gain legal traction, [Sidney] Powell started talking about a new topic. On Dec. 4, she posted a link on Twitter with misinformation that said that the population would be split into the vaccinated and the unvaccinated and that “big government” could surveil those who were unvaccinated.

“NO WAY #America,” Ms. Powell wrote in the tweet, which collected 22,600 shares and 51,000 likes. “This is more authoritarian communist control imported straight from #China.”

... As Mr. Trump’s challenges to the election’s results have been knocked down and the Electoral College has affirmed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win, voter fraud misinformation has subsided. Instead, peddlers of online falsehoods are ramping up lies about the Covid-19 vaccines....

Apart from Ms. Powell, others who have spread political misinformation such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican of Georgia, as well as far-right websites like ZeroHedge, have begun pushing false vaccine narratives, researchers said.
On the other hand, there's this:
Vice President Mike Pence will receive the coronavirus vaccine Friday morning -- an on-camera event that the Trump administration says is part of federal efforts to build confidence among the public in the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

Along with the vice president, second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams will be administered the vaccine....
You don't have to like Pence to hope that his public embrace of the vaccine will diminish some right-wingers' skepticism about COVID vaccines.

Somewhere between Powell and Pence stands Tucker Carlson, a phony edgelord who wants to get credit from his crazy base for vaccine skepticism without actually being a true skeptic. A great deal of what Carlson said about the vaccine on his show last night is dangerous:
... the right-wing host ... derisively snarked about the amount of positive news coverage the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines has received.

“Suddenly the COVID vaccine is on the morning shows, touted on celebrity Twitter accounts, and the news about it is uniformly glowing,” he sarcastically declared. “This stuff is just great. A lot of famous people say so. Just the other day, the guy who played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series got the vaccine. As on any media tour, the paparazzi were there for the dramatic moment when they stuck the needle in his arm.”

Carlson quickly switched his attention to the recent news that an Alaskan health care worker suffered a serious allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine....

“‘It was all a fantastic experience,’ according to doctors who treated her,” Carlson said, quoting an article about the situation. “‘During the whole time, she was still enthusiastic she got the vaccine and the benefits it would give her in the future.’”

“What a cheerful patient, she must be,” he further sneered. “We’ve got to assume she is, in any case, because we can’t really know. The authorities did not release her name. All we know is she is a highly satisfied customer. Yet another. Have a vaccine and a smile. Just do it!”
But he's not telling his audience unambiguously that the vaccine is bad. He's telling them that Twitter and Facebook are bad. Last night, he said:
How are the rest of us supposed to respond to a marketing campaign like this? Well, nervously. Even if you're strongly supportive of vaccines -- and we are -- even if you recognize how many millions of lives have been saved over the past 50 years by vaccines -- and we do -- it all seems a bit much. It's too slick. Better to treat Americans like adults, explain the benefits, be honest about the risks, and let the rest of us decide....

Twitter has announced a new policy to censor any unauthorized inquiry about the vaccine or, as the company put it, "false or misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations." Among other things, Twitter is censoring any claim that this vaccine might be used to "control populations."

So whatever you do, don't say this is social control. If you do, the richest, most powerful people in the world will act in perfect coordination to shut you down immediately. To repeat: There is no social control going on here, but if you suggest otherwise, Twitter will censor you.

In addition, Facebook has now decided it must "build demand for vaccination in communities worldwide" by sharing "reassuring information" about getting the vaccine. Mark Zuckerberg was a tech tycoon. Now he's a professional marketer who gets to control the conversation about the product he's selling. Facebook has announced it will squelch "any misinformation" it sees about this vaccine.

None of this inspires confidence. Censorship will not convince a single person to take the coronavirus vaccine. In fact, it will have the opposite effect. If you wanted to roll out a national vaccination campaign, the first thing you would need after the vaccine itself is social trust. People have to believe that the authorities know what they're doing, otherwise they won't participate. Censorship is the enemy of social trust.
Do his viewers walk away from this determined never to get vaccinated -- or just hating the tech giants more? I don't know. But as awful a human being as Carlson is, it's clear that he could be worse. He's claiming to be pro-vaccine. He's doing somewhat less damage than he could.

I'll conclude by noting that I read a Free Republic post last night from a Freeper who calls himself "gas_dr." The poster, who describes himself as " a critical care physician in a large city environment," says he just received his first vaccine shot. He was positive about the experience:
I arrived and underwent a very streamlined check in process, gave written informed consent that was not unusual in any way. Acknowledged that this was a vaccine being administered under EUA conditions. The media was out in force as this was the first private hospital as previously said that was inoculating its staff.

I was called third stepped up and underwent the most routine of injections. The vaccination was administered into my left deltoid, a quantity of approximately 0.3 cc on a 30 g needle. To say I felt nothing would be absolutely true. There was absolutely pain. [He later explained that he meant to write "absolutely no pain."] ...

I was scheduled for follow up booster in 19 - 21 days. When I left, I cannot quantify the wave of relief and genuine happiness that I had. I was reflecting that in 7 days, I would not longer have to personally worry about this disease causing a tragic outcome in me personally. I also was overjoyed that the means in 7 - 10 days I will no longer be a threat to my family, my elderly parents, and I won't have to get any further CoVID tests.

... As I have said before, this represents the Manhattan project of the 21st century. I am proud to be a recipient of this vaccine, and grateful for the President who made this happen in 10 months.
Perhaps because they know the poster, who's familiar to them and shares their political beliefs -- he goes on to describes himself as "somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun" -- the other Freepers seem receptive to what he's saying. He shoots down a skeptic or two and explains why he trusts the science.

Or maybe there isn't as much vaccine skepticism on the right as I've feared. It helps that these folks want to give much of the credit for the vaccine to President Trump. I'm fine with that. Whatever gets people vaccinated. Whatever stops the spread.

Maybe this vaccination campaign will work. Maybe America won't still be having COVID outbreaks five years from now. Maybe, when Tucker Carlson gets vaccinated -- and he will -- he'll be willing to tell his audience that it wasn't so bad. Maybe this country isn't as crazy as I thought.

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