YouTube has done nothing to stem the tide of COVID-19 misinformation from Outkick’s Clay Travis
Travis’ rhetoric appears to violate multiple YouTube policies on vaccines and the severity of COVID-19
Clay Travis, a regular Fox News guest and founder of Fox-owned sports website Outkick, has used Outkick’s YouTube channel to repeatedly spread COVID-19 misinformation, and the platform has done nothing about it.
Travis is a major spreader of COVID-19 misinformation across platforms. On Travis’ radio show, he and co-host Buck Sexton have promoted pseudo-cures to COVID-19. He even exploited the collapse of football player Damar Hamlin to fearmonger about vaccines on his radio show, on YouTube, and on Twitter.
YouTube has clear policies against spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines on the platform, including claims “that COVID-19 vaccines do not reduce risk of serious illness or death,” that “any vaccine causes contraction of COVID-19,” that “vaccines cause chronic side effects” outside of rare side effects that are recognized by health authorities, and that “people have not died or gotten sick from COVID-19.” Travis has seemingly violated all of these policies on his show Outkick The Show, which is streamed on YouTube.
Yet YouTube has taken no disciplinary action against the Outkick channel, once again failing to enforce its own policies on misinformation. In February, Outkick’s unique viewership on the platform increased “with a 326% year-over-year growth versus February 2022.”
YouTube states that it does not allow claims that “COVID-19 vaccines do not reduce risk of serious illness or death”
Travis repeatedly used his YouTube platform to claim that vaccines do not work, which is demonstrably false and appears to violate YouTube’s policies.
Travis stated that “risk analysis would suggest no one should get the COVID shot.” Travis claimed, “But shouldn't we know what these kids are actually risking when they get the COVID shot? And shouldn't a risk-reward analysis — when you get the COVID shot and you are a young, healthy person, if you get no added protection, which appears to be the case, and you increase your danger in any way, that is a risk analysis that would suggest no one should get the COVID shot.” In truth, unvaccinated individuals are at a higher risk of mortality from COVID-19 than their vaccinated counterparts. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/11/23]
Travis claimed data out of Japan showed COVID-19 vaccines do not work. At the start of his show, Travis claimed, “Japan COVID shot data, guess what? COVID shot’s not working.” He didn’t give any other details or mention any source for his claim. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/6/23]
YouTube states that it does not allow claims that “any vaccine causes contraction of COVID-19”
Travis made multiple false claims about the COVID-19 vaccine causing recipients to become more susceptible to the virus. This is false. Vaccines decrease the chance of contracting COVID-19 and are also unable to give patients COVID-19, because none of them contain the virus. To claim otherwise is to spread misinformation that could prevent people from seeking proven preventative health care.
Travis stated, “Not only do the shots not work, I think they actually make you more likely to get COVID.” Travis ignored that vaccines are known to provide added protection against serious infection. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 2/2/23]
After incorrectly claiming COVID-19 “booster shots work for a very small amounts of time, just a few weeks, really — a month or two at most,” Travis claimed that “new data” reflected that “the more COVID shots, actually, the more likely you are to get COVID.” The opposite is true: COVID-19 vaccines reduce the rate of infection. Viruses develop variants over time and additional shots or boosters provide protection against newer variants. [Outkick, Outkick The Show, 1/25/23]
YouTube’s vaccine misinformation policy prohibits content alleging that “vaccines cause chronic side effects, outside of rare side effects that are recognized by health authorities"
Travis repeatedly fearmongered about supposed side effects to the vaccines. He especially focused on the debunked narrative that athletes such as Damar Hamlin collapsed because of the vaccine instead of what many medical experts believe to be an incident of commotio cordis caused by blunt trauma to his chest.
Travis claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine poses more harm to young, healthy people than remaining unvaccinated does. Travis stated that for healthy people under the age of 50, “there's no way on earth you need to get this COVID shot. It has more danger to you than it does any protections at all.” In reality, health experts recommend young people get vaccinated as vaccines cause no lasting damage whereas severe COVID-19 infections can. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/10/23]
Travis pushed the conspiratorial notion that conversations incorrectly connecting the COVID-19 vaccine to Hamlin’s on-field collapse were being silenced. Travis stated, “And oh, by the way, you can't even mention whether the heart-related condition might be in any way connected to the COVID shot. You can’t even mention that.” [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/5/23]
Travis continued pushing the disproven narrative that vaccines are related to athletes collapsing on fields, such as Hamlin. He questioned, “Is it possible that his heart was weakened by the COVID shot and he became more susceptible?” While heart inflammation such as myocarditis is a rare side effect of COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines carry the same small risk of heart inflammation as other common vaccines such as the flu vaccine. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/9/23]
YouTube states that it does not allow content alleging that “people have not died or gotten sick from COVID-19”
Travis repeatedly misinterpreted the definition of a comorbidity to downplay the total number of COVID-19 fatalities. In reality, comorbidities are defined as separate illnesses that are already present within the body that may contribute to but are not the leading cause of death.
Travis called vaccines “poison” and claimed the majority of COVID-19 deaths are a result of comorbidities. Travis stated, “As I've been telling you from the beginning, almost everyone dying with COVID has at least three or four comorbidities. That is, they are not actually dying of COVID, they are dying with COVID.” This is false, as health experts determine cause of death not by factors like comorbidities but by the condition that contributed the most to a patient's death. If a person has several comorbidities that may interact to complicate COVID-19, such as diabetes, they are not at risk of severe illness or death unless they actually contract the disease. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/13/23]
Travis claimed, “Almost everyone dying, who was counted as a COVID death, was dying with COVID, not of COVID.” This claim has been thoroughly debunked. COVID-19 is attributed to deaths when the virus is the leading factor in mortality. [Outkick, Outkick the Show, 1/18/23]