COMMENTARY by Jane M. Orient, M.D.

Manipulating the news is a standard propaganda technique for molding public behavior. Today it may be called “fake news.”

It can be very hard to sort out the facts in the cacophony of conflicting statements on COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, perched as head bureaucrat at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since the 1980s, would make it very simple for you: “Just do what you are told.” Don’t wear a mask, or wear a mask. Go back to normal when there’s a vaccine; or when 70 percent are vaccinated; no, when 90 percent are vaccinated; or maybe when 70 to 85 percent are vaccinated.

If Americans were to make informed decisions for themselves, they would need to know the facts about such issues as:

  • The true risk of disease and death—and the accuracy of diagnostic tests;
  • The means of transmission of the disease;
  • Health measures to improve their immune system, such as vitamins and zinc supplements;
  • Early at-home treatments, including hydroxychloroquine, antibiotics, corticosteroids, and ivermectin; and
  • Risks and benefits of the vaccines now being rolled out.

In China, attorney and citizen-journalist Zhang Zhan is on trial for “spreading lies”—i.e. videotaping scenes like a hospital hallway and a crematory that conflicted with the narrative of the government’s “wise, triumphant response.”

Fortunately, the U.S. does not have 5-year prison terms for such activities, but we do have “Twitter jail” and “Facebook jail” for doctors such as Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, who post information about their treatment successes. Videos and postings on many other social media outlets are also taken down and branded as “harmful misinformation” at the discretion of the owners. Viewers are referred to U.S. federal agencies or to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is pervasively influenced by foreign powers, especially China.

A few important facts that the public probably doesn’t know:

  • PCR tests that have a cycle threshold (CT) greater than 30 or 35 are more than 90 percent likely to be false positives. There are also false negatives, and delaying treatment may miss the window of opportunity for success.
  • Evidence now suggests that asymptomatic transmission is rare. And where is the virus—in the droplets from your breath, or in the explosion of droplets from toilet flushes? Virus may persist in feces for months. Why are Chinese flight attendants being told to wear diapers?
  • Vitamin D deficiency is very common and probably quadruples your risk of death from COVID-19.
  • Independent physicians are using a number of safe, affordable treatments and keeping their patients out of the hospital and out of the morgue. But public health authorities, hospitals, and organized medicine may deplore, discourage, or even ban such treatments, allegedly because of insufficient “scientific” information.
  • It is impossible to know the long-term effects of vaccines that have been used on limited numbers of trial subjects for only a few months. Neurological effects such as Bell’s palsy have occurred after vaccination. Companies admit they don’t know effects on fertility or birth defects. Trial subjects had to agree to use acceptable contraception until at least 28 days after the final dose. Men have even been advised to freeze some sperm.

How do we sort out the fake news or scaremongering? The remedy for misinformation is openness and free discussion. But here are two means for promulgating errors or lies and protecting them against rebuttal:

First, under the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, section 1078, Operation Mockingbird was allegedly mobilized against U.S. citizens. This program purportedly could enable the Central Intelligence Agency to manipulate the news in the U.S. by channeling it through a foreign country—perhaps one that would benefit from destroying the U.S. economy. Federal agencies should not be funding news outlets and thereby influencing their content.

Second, social media outlets can control content with impunity under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA, section 230), which protects them from tort liability. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) threatened to withdraw this protection if they did not de-platform certain views. AAPS filed a lawsuit asking the court to enjoin Rep. Schiff from coercing media outlets to censor information about vaccine risks. There are increasing calls to censor information that might cause “vaccine hesitancy” or “distrust of government,” based on the opinion of non-accountable authorities or “fact-checkers.”

The situation is complicated by the huge financial stakes. Forbes magazine has found 50 new pandemic billionaires in 2020, from 11 different countries, the majority now residing in China. Between 1999 and 2018, the pharmaceutical and health products industry spent about $6 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions.

Public health authorities are very worried about loss of public trust. There is good reason for distrust. Without open discussion, skepticism will only increase.

Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, among others.