In a recent segment for Sinclair Broadcast Group, national correspondent Kristine Frazao suggested that “censorship” was behind YouTube’s decision to remove a video promoting the unproven COVID-19 drug ivermectin.
Frazao’s report — which aired on at least 54 Sinclair-owned or -operated local stations in 27 states on February 4 and 5, according to a Kinetiq transcript search — highlighted YouTube’s decision to remove a video from a December 8 Senate hearing in which Dr. Pierre Kory promoted the drug ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. Although Frazao noted that YouTube had cited the company’s policies against COVID-19 misinformation as the rationale behind the video’s removal, the segment implied that the platform instead censored Kory’s testimony. Frazao’s report included comments from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who just days earlier published an opinion piece about YouTube’s decision in The Wall Street Journal titled “YouTube Cancels the U.S. Senate.”
In choosing to frame YouTube’s decision as part of an ongoing battle over debunked conservative claims of social media censorship, Frazao ignored that there is little to no evidence supporting the use of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. The National Institutes of Health notes that there is “insufficient data” to support the use of ivermectin, and Merck, which manufactures ivermectin under the brand name Stromectol, released a statement on February 4 which reached the same conclusion.
Frazao also omitted criticism from some physicians who have specifically questioned Kory’s promotion of the drug. An analysis published in MedPage Today notes that Kory and a group he belongs to known as the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance are touting the drug despite a lack of large, randomized control trials that could prove its effectiveness. The Sinclair report instead featured an excerpt of Kory’s testimony about the drug’s “miraculous effectiveness” without pushback.
Coverage like Frazao’s report which fails to foreground scientific evidence risks politicizing the use of ivermectin, much in the same way that right-wing media relentlessly and dangerously promoted the drug hydroxychloroquine in the early months of the pandemic. Unfortunately, Sinclair’s reach provides such misinformation -- and false claims of conservative “censorship” -- with the opportunity to reach an audience of millions across the country.