News Organization Punished for Promoting Vaccine ‘Conspiracy’ Theory

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A British news network was censured on Tuesday over a prior incident in which an American author espoused a conspiracy theory about the COVID-19 vaccine without being challenged.

The incident occurred last October when author and conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf appeared on GB News, which launched in 2021 as an “anti-woke” conservative news channel. During the appearance, she compared the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to premeditated mass murder and to the practices of “doctors in pre-Nazi Germany.” Wolf made the comparison three times and received no pushback from the network’s hosts.

On Tuesday, Ofcom, the U.K. government agency tasked with regulating television, declared that GB News had violated its broadcast code by not at any point challenging Wolf’s remarks about vaccines, which the agency called a “significant and alarming claim.” The agency said that it received over 400 complaints about Wolf’s comments.

In the U.S., widely spread and unfounded conspiracy theories about the dangers posed by vaccines have been among the primary reasons cited for the country’s failure to reach herd immunity. As of Tuesday, the CDC reports that a little over 81 percent of Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, while 95 percent is typically considered the threshold for herd immunity. By the end of last month, NBC News reported that around 150 people were still dying from the virus each day. Roughly 86 percent of U.K. residents have received at least two vaccine doses.

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