The New York Times Accused of Repeating False Claim in Coverage of Federal Judge’s Ruling

The New York Times has faced criticism for restating a debunked claim that vaccinated individuals cannot transmit COVID-19 in an article published on Wednesday, which focused on a federal judge’s ruling against the Biden administration’s coordination with social media platforms.

Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, prohibiting officials from the Biden administration, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services, from engaging with social media companies to influence the removal or reduction of content containing protected free speech. The New York Times, in its coverage of the decision, mentioned that Doughty had previously shown little skepticism towards “debunked” claims about vaccines.

Critics have pointed out that the New York Times repeated the false notion that vaccinated individuals cannot transmit COVID-19, a claim that has been debunked by scientific evidence. The inclusion of this claim in their article has raised concerns about the accuracy of the newspaper’s reporting and its commitment to providing reliable information.

The controversy surrounding the New York Times’ coverage highlights the importance of accurate reporting and fact-checking in the realm of public health, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The issue also underscores the need for responsible journalism to combat misinformation and provide readers with credible and evidence-based information.

“In one previous case, Judge Doughty accepted as fact the claim that ‘Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission of the disease,’” the NYT article reads.

“This is an absolutely extraordinary passage in a NYT article from yesterday about the court ruling against the govt’s right to suppress speech on social media,” journalist David Zweig tweeted. “It cites a correct statement as evidence of a judge referring to a ‘debunked claim.’”

The NYT also published a Wednesday article that cited multiple “disinformation researchers” who were frustrated with the court ruling and argued that the government’s coordination with social media platforms is okay so long as there is no “coercion.”

“It’s bananas that you can’t show a nipple on the Super Bowl but Facebook can still broadcast Nazi propaganda, empower stalkers and harassers, undermine public health and facilitate extremism in the United States,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of Center for Countering Digital Hate, a British non-profit, told the NYT in the piece profiling the reactions from “disinformation” experts.

Doughty cited in Tuesday’s ruling a report the group sent to the U.S. surgeon general’s office on the so-called “Disinformation Dozen,” which were accounts allegedly involved in sharing “anti‑vaccine content.”

“Fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections have peak viral load similar to unvaccinated cases and can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts,” an October 2021 study published in the Lancet reads.

During a Congressional testimony in June 2022, Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as response coordinator during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Trump administration, said that government officials who promised that vaccinated people couldn’t transmit the virus were not “lying,” but “hoping.”

The NYT did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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