I’ve written before how the word “misinformation” is used to justify silencing (or at least discrediting) speech that the Left doesn’t like. (See here and here.) As if we needed another example, consider the former Mayor of New York, the freedom-hating, BLM-loving Bill de Blasio.
This article reports that de Blasio was criticizing “vaccine misinformation, which he called a national disease.” As an example of such “misinformation,” the article cited one Ms. Green, another politician, who tweeted that the virus “is not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” For that tweet, she faced consequences from twitter.
But interestingly, the CDC says that obesity is a huge factor in virus-related hospitalizations and deaths. Similarly, the CDC says there is also a strong correlation between age and outcomes, with those over 65 facing dramatically greater health risks—at least 65 times that of 18-29-year-olds.
So was Ms. Green’s statement really “misinformation”?
I wouldn’t have written it the way she did. She should have stated that non-obese people under 65 face much, much lower risks of hospitalization and death. She could then have provided examples of other, comparable risks that we tolerate every day. But I doubt twitter suspended her for such semantics. Rather, I suspect that twitter suspended her—and that her tweet was used as an example of the “misinformation” that de Blasio was crying about—because her claim interfered with the Left’s agenda of widespread vaccination without consideration of an individual's age, weight, or other risk factors. (I think every Leftie would agree that's a fair assessment.) The tweet’s precise wording, or even its truth or falsity, probably wasn’t the issue.
Now, getting back to de Blasio, let’s switch topical gears and see how concerned he was about “misinformation” when tweeting about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in my city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. On Nov. 19, 2021, he tweeted the following from the @NYCMayor account:
“Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today. The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people. To call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.”
Very powerful and dramatic, Bill. You’ve clearly “signaled” your allegiance to several of the Left’s causes. You probably even typed that tweet while wearing a mask. But are your claims true? Let’s dismiss the first two sentences as mere opinion and dive into the remainder of the tweet to evaluate its accuracy.
- Claim: Rittenhouse was “a violent, dangerous man.” Verdict: False. Taking this two-part claim in reverse order, Rittenhouse was actually a child, only 17-years-old at the time. Had Rosenbaum (de Blasio’s supposed victim) been successful in inflicting harm after he caught Rittenhouse, Rosenbaum would have been charged with physical abuse of a child. Or, as Tucker Carlson brashly said, Rosenbaum, “a convicted child rapist . . . died as he had lived: trying to touch an unwilling minor.” As far as Rittenhouse being “violent” and “dangerous,” the evidence showed he was cleaning graffiti before the evening’s riots and then was offering first aid to injured protesters during the riots, before he was threatened, chased, and attacked by Rosenbaum and Huber.
- Claim: Rittenhouse “chose to take a gun across
state lines.” Verdict:
False. Put aside the sinister
innuendo Democrats like to create with the phrase “across state
lines”— while curiously promoting open national borders to our
south—Rittenhouse did not take a gun across state lines. The gun was already in
. Even the prosecutor, Tom Binger, agrees with that. (In a related matter, the charge alleging that Rittenhouse possessed the gun illegally, regardless of which state it came from, was dismissed.) Wisconsin
- Claim: Rittenhouse decided to just “start shooting people.” Verdict: False. This claim strongly implies that there was no rhyme or reason to Rittenhouse’s actions, and that Rosenbaum and Huber were random victims who did nothing wrong—other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The reality is that Rosenbaum and Huber died because they threatened to kill Rittenhouse, and/or chased him down after he fled, and/or grabbed for his gun, and/or struck him in the head with a skateboard. That’s why they got shot. To quote one level-headed academic philosopher who offered some lessons from the Rittenhouse trial: “If you see a man with a gun, do not run at that guy and attack him.” If you follow that simple piece of advice, and the odds quickly approach 100 percent that you will not get killed.
Is this not "misinformation" worthy of some sort of sanction from the social media gods? It's objectively false! And after all, politicians are not above the social media rules, as even a former president was banned from twitter!
Finally, even though de Blasio probably didn’t see much if any of
the trial, in his tweet he also attempts to undermine the jury’s verdict, stating that it
is a “miscarriage of justice.” Undermining
an American institution, the jury system, sounds just as bad as undermining the
outcome of our elections, for example.
Yet those, like de Blasio, who attacked the jury’s verdict faced no
consequences, while others who called into question the integrity of the presidential election, for example, are “spreading misinformation.” And for this, they face consequences. Unless, of course, they are questioning the
integrity of the 2016 election by accusing Trump of colluding with
The point is this: the word “misinformation” is usually entirely political. When you hear that word, be skeptical of it. There’s a good chance the claim being negatively branded as “misinformation” is nothing more than an opinion or prediction—sometimes well articulated and supported by reason, logic, and actual evidence.
And if the “misinformation” really is a factual assertion, there’s a good chance it is actually true.