Overt politicization of the pandemic—and the speed with which falsehoods about all aspects of COVID-19 have spread online, over the airwaves and through media—are major reasons why the U.S. has suffered a far greater COVID-related death toll than other large, well-resourced nations.
The recent controversies about misinformation widely circulating on popular streaming services and social media have renewed calls for greater oversight and enforcement of these media channels. But how can we accomplish that without infringing on our right to free speech?
As physicians, we too often bear the brunt of such efforts to mislead and confuse the public, and must speak out against purveyors of junk science and conspiracy theories. We must work to address the pandemic that long preceded COVID-19: a pandemic of mistrust. You can find a thorough discussion of these twin pandemics, and the five steps we must undertake now in response to them, in my remarks to the National Press Club this week.