Spectator starts transatlantic media feud after crowning NYT ‘unreliable source’ over ‘clickbait’ on UK vaccine mixing
The UK’s Spectator has accused the New York Times across the pond of misrepresenting Britain’s policy on mixing Covid-19 vaccinations, prompting applause and eye rolls on social media.
The Times ran a story on Saturday in which it reported that some health experts were “worried” by the British government’s decision to “open the door” to using two different Covid-19 vaccines when inoculating individuals. According to the new guidance, “every effort should be made” to use the same vaccine when administering the first and second dose of the drug, but mixing brands is allowed if there is supply shortage, or if it’s unknown which vaccine was used for the first dose, the paper explained. However, mixing doses should only be done if “the individual is likely to be at immediate high risk,” it added, citing the government’s updated vaccine protocols.
Britain has granted emergency approval to two coronavirus vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and a homegrown variant created by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University.
Apparently, the Times’ characterisation of the policy rubbed the Spectator the wrong way, as it fired off a seething blog post denouncing the paper’s “vaccine clickbait.”
“The New York Times really does have it in for poor old Britain, doesn't it? Not content with portraying Brits as boiled mutton eating swamp dwellers, America's liberal paper of record is now suggesting we're being pumped full of a dangerous cocktail of Covid vaccines,” the Spectator’s terse retort began.
The UK outlet then endeavoured to inject some “reality” into the Times’ report, noting that “a different second dose will only be considered in very limited circumstances where there is an ‘immediate high risk’ to health” – a fact which doesn’t appear to be disputed by the American newspaper.
Going a step further, the Spectator wrote a social media post in which it emulated Twitter’s controversial fact check policy.
“This claim is not based on fact and is being shared by an unreliable source,” its tweet read, linking to the NYT story.
ⓘ 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗺 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗻 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗮𝗻 𝘂𝗻𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲. https://t.co/2CFQ7a3cMP— The Spectator (@spectator) January 2, 2021
The stunt elicited cheers from many on social media, who said the call out was long overdue.
“The best publication in print dropping massive steaming turds on the worst publication in print. Lovely,”rejoiced one observer.
Others said that while the Times’ article may be technically factual, it presented the information in a way to drum up panic and hysteria to make it appear the government was recklessly pursuing an unsafe inoculation regime.
This is the game the MSM has been playing for years.Take an extreme/unlikely position that has a grain of truth (the NYT headline isn’t wrong) and present it as the norm/default. This is the BBC/Graun Playbook 101 on Brexit in particular; “coulds” reported as “woulds”— Yawn (@yawnymcyawnface) January 2, 2021
There were plenty of others who accused the Spectator of hair-splitting, however, noting that the Times explained that mixing vaccines was an emergency measure reserved for extreme cases.
Yes, everything in that Spectator paragraph is in the NYT article too. The Spectator must be relying on their readers being to lazy to even bother reading the NYT article for themselves. And judging by the replies in this thread, that's a good call by The Spectator.— Gavin Deane (@GJDeane) January 3, 2021
Others joked that the conservative UK outlet was just bitter because the NYT made the Tory government look bad.
The NYT don't understand the first thing about British journalism: protect the Tory government at all costs.— Ghostface Kafka (36 Chambers) (@TheKafkaDude) January 3, 2021
Britain has expressed concern that it may soon run out of Pfizer doses, which could potentially create conditions where vaccine mixing becomes more likely, but the company insisted that there were no shortages of the drug in the UK and that deliveries were on schedule.
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