Whataboutism — the debate tactic in which, rather than address allegations, one tries to divert attention by pointing to actions of others — can be a very effective distraction. However, when recognized, it’s a red-flag beacon that appears to confirm the speaker has no actual defense against the original claim.
When Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla spoke out to address vaccine safety and the risks of disinformation, he did so without individualized personal attacks or naming names. Instead, he spoke about the harm that will come from disinformation, according to CNBC, and said that he believes those who deliberately spread false information should face legal consequences, because they’re causing preventable deaths.
The disinformation he’s talking about includes claims that the vaccine contains tracking chips, causes infertility, or alters DNA, as well as that it’s “experimental” or “untested” and that there is a rampant spate of vaccine injuries to those who receive it.
“They’re criminals because they have literally cost millions of lives,” he asserted.
Matt Gaetz may have felt directly called out, though, because he responded with a defensive statement, invoking whataboutism.
Background information: as reported by Fierce Pharma almost a decade ago, Pfizer was trying to shake off the fen-phen culpability. The diet drug was created by Wyeth, and hundreds of thousands of claimants say they were harmed by it before it was pulled off the market and banned in the 1990s. A dozen years later, Pfizer absorbed Wyeth, taking on the responsibility for fen-phen at the same time.
Responding to the CNBC story, Gaetz brought up the well-aged controversy, comparing the fen-phen death and damage toll to the disinformation spread about COVID-19 vaccines.
Are those who spread misinformation about fen-phen criminals? https://t.co/NPpJY34D8n
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 10, 2021
Notably, drug companies were indeed forced to take responsibility for the damage caused by the diet drug, with Pfizer setting aside billions of dollars just for payouts to injured parties. However, the widespread calls for COVID-19 disinformation artists to face legal consequences have thus far gone unheeded.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com