The public deserves to know the full truth about COVID-19 vaccines, argued investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author Alex Berenson during a Monday lecture.
“This is a story about science,” Berenson said. “It’s also a story about journalism, and the absolute and total failure of journalism. Because these numbers are available to everyone.”
Berenson delivered his speech on “Truth, Science, and the Coronavirus” to a full Plaster Auditorium, shortly after teaching the first session of his one-week course as the Dow Journalism Program’s Eugene C. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism.
Berenson said scientists have downplayed the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re a year and a half in, and people, mostly on the left, but some people on the right, have promised an easy answer to this,” Berenson said. “There are no easy answers to this. This is a virus that’s going to surge in and out, sometimes the hospitals will need support, and otherwise, we go on with life.”
Berenson highlighted another area of failure during the COVID-19 pandemic: journalism. He said journalists should strive for a “reporting ecosystem that will give people fact-based reality-based journalism that stands up to places like the New York Times.”
“If the regulatory agencies and journalists were functioning as promised, I would not be having to explain all this,” Berenson said. “I’m not a scientist, but I’m good at knowing when people are lying to me, and I don’t like it.”
Berenson said he advised his mother to receive the vaccine before the short length it provides immunity became clear. However, he said he did not think the vaccine was necessary for him or his children.
“Now, I don’t think I need the vaccine,” he said. “As for my kids, they will get it when Florida freezes over. It’s not happening. They don’t need it.”
After being kicked off Twitter in August for “repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules,” according to Twitter, Berenson started a Substack newsletter. He has acquired more than 10,000 subscribers.
“I wanted to stay on Twitter because Twitter is where I’m going to talk to people who aren’t convinced,” Berenson said. “Maybe I’ll show them a study, maybe 80% of the time they’ll just tell me I’m an idiot and a grifter whatever, but once in a while somebody will check some data and see it’s correct. Now I can’t do that.”
“I thought it was interesting that he was a pharmaceutical reporter, and able to interpret some of those medical terminologies,” sophomore Emma Widmer said. “I think that’s super helpful because a lot of the political opinions that you get on COVID-19 I don’t necessarily trust because they’re not medical professionals.”
“I think that it provided a good inside look at the challenges of reporting on COVID-19-related topics like vaccines,” freshman Madison Asher said. “I appreciated his argument that good journalists should have the courage to let facts drive reporting, not political parties.”
Berenson’s book, “Pandemia: How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives,” is scheduled for release on Nov. 30.