Clay Travis over OutKick and YouTube logos

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Fox Corp.'s OutKick continues to push misinformation about COVID-19 even after a YouTube suspension

OutKick promotes a steady stream of COVID-19 misinformation even after the content purportedly got the site in trouble

Fox Corp.’s OutKick is a hotbed for misinformation regarding COVID-19. OutKick’s founder Clay Travis and hosts Tomi Lahren and Charly Arnolt regularly platform false claims about vaccines, attacks on masking, and conspiracy theories about the illness.

OutKick was briefly banned from YouTube over the summer which Lahren said was because of the right-wing outlet's vaccine claims, but it continues to push such misinformation.

  • The WHO and other major health organizations have repeatedly explained the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and the value of masking

    • Studies have shown the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines at reducing the chance of infection and severity of illness. [Stanford Medicine, 3/28/23; U.K. Health Security Agency, 1/6/22]
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is significantly more dangerous to be unvaccinated than vaccinated. According to the CDC, “Those who are up to date on their vaccination status have a 9.8 fold lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated.” [CDC, 3/10/23]
    • Reuters: There is no connection between the COVID-19 vaccines and medical tragedies that have drawn online attention, such as instances of athletes collapsing. According to experts who spoke to Reuters Fact Check, “there is still no evidence of an increase in deaths or serious cardiac events among athletes, nor evidence that known effects of the vaccines have led to the type of cardiac events seen in these players.” [Reuters, 1/20/23]
    • The World Health Organization says masking is safe and plays an important role in helping to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The WHO states while masking alone is not sufficient enough to protect against COVID-19, “masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives.” [WHO, accessed 11/10/23]
  • YouTube locked out OutKick for a week, purportedly because of false vaccine claims

    • OutKick has a long history of peddling COVID-19 misinformation even prior to Fox Corp.’s purchase of the company in 2021. [The Daily Beast, 7/26/20; Variety, 5/5/21]
    • From July 31 until August 7, OutKick uploaded no videos to its YouTube channel. Host Tomi Lahren claimed OutKick had been locked out of its account due to claims made by her and Travis about COVID-19 vaccines. [YouTube, accessed 11/14/23; Twitter/X, 8/2/23]
  • OutKick shows have promoted numerous false claims about COVID-19 vaccines and masks

    • OutKick host Charly Arnolt hosted “the sperminator,” who falsely claimed vaccines cause infertility and compared them to sexually transmitted diseases, wrongfully claiming that they shed. Jonathan David Rinaldi, a former New York City Council candidate and “serial sperm donor,” stated, “The shots are kind of like STDs at this point, right? Like if you sleep with someone that has a shot or vaccine, I mean, you could get some shedding from it. I know that it affects fertility. There was a time when I was with somebody who did have the injections and I was actually affected. I wasn't able to get anyone pregnant for about nine months.” [National Institutes of Health, 1/20/23; The Associated Press, 4/29/21; Media Matters for America, 11/9/23]
    • Travis accused Pfizer and Moderna of creating “worthless” COVID-19 vaccines and insisted they cause “health issues.” He stated, “They have produced worthless COVID shots which are now causing health issues in young people that are otherwise healthy.” He added, “They’re paying Travis Kelce millions of dollars to try to get people to go get it. He should be ashamed of himself.” [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 10/31/23]
    • Travis insisted that promoting vaccines is harmful based on the false idea that getting vaccinated is more unsafe than being unvaccinated. He claimed Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is “encouraging young healthy men … to get a shot that the data reflects they don't need because almost everybody has had COVID and the risk factors for young healthy men are actually more prevalent from the shot than they are from not getting the shot at all." [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 9/25/23]
    • Lahren hosted Fox News contributor Marty Makary, who supported her when she promoted the “died suddenly” conspiracy theory falsely claiming COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for heart issues in young athletes. She asked, “We have so-and-so, 30 years old, dies suddenly, such and such athlete, 18 years old, died suddenly or went into cardiac arrest or had a heart failure. … How confident are you that vaccines, the COVID vaccine in particular, could have contributed to some of this we’re seeing?” Her guest responded, “Oh, definitely.” [The Associated Press, 2/4/23; OutKick, Tomi Lahren is Fearless, 9/6/23]
    • Travis said the COVID-19 vaccine “was for the most part worthless” while defending anti-vax football player Aaron Rodgers. Travis claimed, “ESPN is going to get unhappy with the criticism that comes for Aaron Rodgers sharing opinions that a huge number of Americans agree with, including me, that the COVID shot was for the most part worthless.” [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 10/11/23; The New York Times, 11/8/21]
    • Travis claimed the vaccines do not work. He claimed, “Not only did the shots fail, via fraud you were encouraged and even sometimes forced to get these shots based on a fraudulent perpetration of what they would do, but on top of that they actually were dangerous.” [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 11/3/23]
    • Travis falsely insisted Kelce advertised for a vaccine that causes heart problems and does not protect against COVID-19. He also said the disease had “statistically zero risk” for young people and compared promoting vaccines to advertising cigarettes to minors, complaining, “I bet, Travis Kelce, you would not encourage kids 12 to 17 to smoke cigarettes. You are famous, and Pfizer is paying you millions of dollars to try to get kids to get a shot that actually creates uncommon heart problems in them while providing virtually no protection from an illness and a virus that offers them statistically zero risk.” [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 10/26/23]
    • Travis wrongfully claimed masking does not help reduce the spread of COVID-19. He claimed, “They are doing this despite the fact that all of the data out there reflects that masks are worthless against COVID in classrooms.” [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 9/5/23]
    • Lahren did not correct guest Shawn Farash when he falsely claimed an NIH study showed masking causes cancer. [Health Feedback, 8/27/23; OutKick, Tomi Lahren is Fearless, 8/31/23]