Pandemic Reporting Failed to Seek Facts While Favoring Biopharma Public Relations
Rolling Stone's Miles Klee leaves us miles from the truth.
6 minute read
Today’s guest column comes Lindsay Jones who dives into the perplexing and outrageous state of pandemic reporting. Do journalism, people. And let pharma write its own PR.
Several weeks ago, a few people sent me a Rolling Stone piece that was the perfect example of what we never needed during this unprecedented global pandemic: advocacy journalism lacking the fundamentals of reporting. The article was a callous hit piece structured to ignore science and shame untold numbers of people injured by vaccines. A recent study found the Pfizer and Modern COVID-19 vaccines were associated with a 16 % higher risk of serious adverse events
Before I discuss the person who wrote this, I must disclose that I actually didn’t want to focus on this one writer—for several reasons. First, he appears to revel in the limelight. He floods his social media accounts with selfies—except the backdrop for many of these self-portraits is a messy bedroom, mixed in with random photos of toilets.
Second, he’s just one of a horde of journalists who caved to political pressures and ended up doing Big Pharma’s bidding and now provides free propaganda for billion-dollar biomedical companies that continue to profit from this virus.
Third, he chose to target and disparage a nurse—of all people!—without ever asking her if she could validate her claims. In my opinion, that final breach of journalistic ethics should be career ending. But we’re living in Orwellian times.
So what kind of person would do the bidding for a billion-dollar drug industry while simultaneously disparaging a vaccine injured nurse? A guy named Miles Klee with Rolling Stone.
When I was asked to write this guest column, I thought it’d be foolish to refuse an opportunity to expose Rolling Stone’s Miles Klee; he’s just one of many writers who fails at basic journalism. Many like Miles seem to navigate their reporting with a broken compass that only points in the direction of COVID narratives that elevate corporate messages while talking down to readers.
I’m told that reporters don’t write the headlines, but Klee’s headline prepares you for a bunch of sentences that deny medical facts: “Claims of Covid Vaccine Injuries and Deaths Revive Protest Movement.” But what does this title and Klee’s article not tell you? Like all medical interventions, vaccines have side effects.
Here’s one Klee excerpt that explains little, while causing nothing but offense:
Social media has lately seen a resurgence of videos purporting to show vaccine recipients suffering tremors or seizures. Similar content dates back to 2021 and went especially viral in May 2022, when Twitter user Angelia Desselle posted footage of her feet shaking, with the caption “Thanks Pfizer.” (Spasms are not a proven side effect of the vaccines; these claims have been widely mocked and parodied.)
The problem is that Rolling Stone failed to verify the claim that the vaccines don’t cause spasms. When you click on the link for the alleged “mocked and parodied” it doesn’t lead to a medical study or credible government health agency. It takes you to the website “Know your meme.” (I’m not kidding. This is Klee’s proof. Read his article and click the link.)
What Klee and his editor should have done is basic due diligence: reach out to Desselle and ask her to provide evidence to support her claim, instead of mocking someone who says they had a medical side effect. Isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do?
Instead, Klee and his editor chose wording to say spasms are not a “proven” side effect of the vaccines, and then lambasted Desselle by including a link to social media trolls making fun of her neurological injury. And Klee’s response to criticism is just vile, pornographic juvenilia.
Even if they didn’t want to behave as journalists and reach out to Desselle for comment, Klee or his editor could have contacted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The agencies run a database called VAERS, which collects reports of vaccine adverse events and is “a valuable tool for post-marketing safety surveillance.”
After reading Klee’s article, I checked the CDC Wonder / VAERS database and found more than 22,000 people have reported tremors/spasms after receiving an mRNA COVID vaccine.
Klee failed to do this basic act of reporting, and the negligence by Rolling Stone only prolonged the suffering of nurse Angelia Desselle by propagating nonsense and fueling internet trolls. She deserves better. Every nurse educating the public deserves better.
Every human injured by pharmaceutical products deserves better.
So is Klee someone who always advocated and defended Big Pharma and their products? I was curious and wanted to understand how anyone could be so callow, so I did some digging (which is when I ran across his social media and an endless sea of chest hair and awkward selfies) and what I found was pretty shocking.
There was a time when Klee was aware of Big Pharma’s corporate capture of the federal government. In fact, he claims to have written a novel about the “failed propagandistic American state controlled by big pharma.”
So what changed? The pandemic struck, and suddenly large parts of the media became cheerleaders for the biopharmaceutical industry—labeling any complaints as Republican party politics or “anti-vax.” This is when Klee ceased complaining about Big Pharma and picked up the poms poms to begin cheering for industry. He has not principles and his opinions shift based on emotions and political convenience. Like too many reporters, he appears to believe whatever truth the Democratic party sells—in this case, “Shut up because the government says the vaccines are safe and effective.”
This is exactly what Vice President Kamala Harris did. Skeptical of the “Trump vaccine” while campaigning, she flipped once in office and began promoting the exact same vaccine. Klee must have gotten the message and began dutifully toeing the line.
Advocacy journalism and biopharmaceutical propaganda have built a stronghold in the United States, and continue to pose significant dangers to the press. The recent rise of social media censorship has amplified these concerns, as the Twitter Files have revealed that truth is often obscured by the partisan agendas of whoever controls the White House.
Today, it’s the Democrats, but if Republicans win the presidency and behave the same way, will Klee and his media friends suddenly understand and change their angle to defend the injured?
Activist reporting prioritizes a specific agenda over objective truth. This can mean slanted coverage that favors one political party over another, or using sensationalized headlines and images to drive clicks and views. It results in a media environment that bombards the public with biased information, often divorced from reality, while increasing distrust of the news.
This undermines the media's role as a watchdog and fosters tribalism where people only consume news that confirms their existing biases. Americans have a hard time finding common ground on important issues and Klee’s clickbait sure doesn’t help.
Reporting news, regardless of which political party “wins” an issue, actually holds power accountable and arms citizens with information they need to make informed decisions and hold conversations with others.
So what can be done to counter these problems? Media outlets with strong brands like Rolling Stone need to improve on the basics: fact-based reporting. Hire journalists who are committed to reporting—like checking facts and calling up a nurse for comment before blasting her because you found people trolling her on Twitter. Also, put some effort into investigative journalism that uncovers the truth, no matter where it leads.
Remember when Matt Taibbi did this exact kind of reporting for Rolling Stone? What happened?! (Hint—journalists like Taibbi no longer write for propaganda institutions like Rolling Stone, because they want to keep their integrity.)
At the same time, citizens must become more discerning news consumers. We must seek out diverse information sources and challenge our own assumptions and beliefs. We must also hold media outlets accountable when they fail to meet journalistic standards. That way news remains something we can still believe in.
Advocacy journalism and poor reporting threaten our democracy and society, because they undermine our ability to make smart decisions. We must stay vigilant and hold those accountable who lack journalistic skills—just Google the VAERS database, Miles!
Lindsay Jones is an Auburn University alumnus and Communication Strategist living in Dallas, TX. She left her corporate job during the pandemic to fight for freedom of speech, aide whistleblowers, and counter biopharmaceutical propaganda. You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @TexasLindsay_ or subscribe to her Substack.
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Everything written here is true. Unfortunately those reading it like myself are well aware of the Orwellian roundabout being continuously spun by Rolling Stone and the other rags acting as journalists.
After watching the just released revelations of the Jan 6 circus which created a false view of insurrection and violence, I’m reminded of the power of propaganda convincing the gullible public again and again to believe in the lies and to never ever question their authority or authenticity. After all by doing so, you might just start to doubt it and actually free your mind.
"Media outlets with strong brands like Rolling Stone . . ."
After retractions (the rag calls them "updates") of their articles on the non-existent gang rape at UVA and Oklahoma hospitals being overrun by patients overdosing on Ivermectin, I wouldn't call Rolling Stone a strong media brand. Their main competition would appear to be Charmin and Cottonelle.