Media organizations occasionally contact Mercola.com, sometimes to challenge us on the researched, fact-checked articles we post for our readers. This was the case when Isobel Cockerell, a reporter with Coda Story, requested comments on our coverage of COVID-19, and specifically on my decision to remove COVID-related content, for an article she was writing.
Her request was made on the same day the article was published. In the interest of transparency, below Iâ€™ll post the email exchange so you can read our response to her questions firsthand, as â€” unsurprisingly â€” none of it made it into the article.
May 7, 2021, Coda Story published Cockerellâ€™s false article, claiming that â€œpressure from lawmakers and antidiscrimination groupsâ€� prompted me to remove COVID-19 content from Mercola.com, in order to â€œavoid social media ban.â€�1
Not only is this wrong, but we provided the real reasons why COVID-19 content was removed from our site directly to Cockerell in the email exchange. She chose to ignore it and included nothing about the personal threats or counteroffensive assault by global terrorist and cyberwarfare experts against Mercola.com, instead stating:2
â€œResponding to a request for comment on this article, a Mercola representative defended the accuracy of Mercolaâ€™s positions and said his critics are in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry.â€�
Coda Story Published Outright Lies
In the current climate, if you are not compliant about blindly promoting mandatory vaccinations and their safety, you will be silenced. Digital dictatorship is escalating, and people are increasingly being conditioned to think itâ€™s not only necessary for â€œmisinformationâ€� to be removed but that itâ€™s the obligation of these essential information carriers to do so. Twice in a one-week period, Mercola.com was hit by cyberwarfare, taking the site down.
Still, the â€œthreat of a social media banâ€� had nothing to do with my reasoning for permanently removing select content from Mercola.com, as Cockerell implied. Further, the article, which is really nothing more than a propaganda piece for the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), makes a number of additional, blatantly false, statements.
Among them, â€œMercola, who has over a million followers on Facebook, has promoted a number of unproven treatments or cures for COVID-19, including the inhalation of bleach,â€� Cockerell wrote.3 Not only have I not advocated inhaling bleach, but Iâ€™ve warned against its use even in cleaning products due to its link to lung damage. The â€œsourceâ€� Cockerell uses as â€œevidenceâ€� of this statement is a nonworking link to the CCDH â€œAnti-Vaxx Playbook.â€�
In its â€œAnti-Vaxx Playbook,â€�4 CCDH identified six leading online â€œanti-vaxxers,â€� which include yours truly along with Barbara Loe Fisher, Del Bigtree, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Dr. Sherri Tenpenny and Dr. Andrew Wakefield. In the playbook, the CCDH details the messages shared by me and others during the Fifth International Public Conference on Vaccination, held online October 16 through 18, 2020, such as:
- Deaths being falsely attributed to COVID-19, thereby artificially inflating mortality statistics
- The fact that COVID-19 has a 99 % survival rate unless youâ€™re very old and have underlying comorbidities
- The fact that there are now several effective therapeutics for COVID-19, making a vaccine less relevant
The CCDH report presents these messages without any counterarguments. It does not negate or even debate the accuracy of any of them. It just brushes them aside as â€œmisinformationâ€� and â€œliesâ€� without providing any proof whatsoever, and in doing so, it actually ends up strengthening our messaging. In fact, the report summarizes our concerns so well that Iâ€™d encourage everyone to read it.
Self-Censoring? Anti-Science Movement? More Lies
In a petty move, Cockerell did not identify me as a doctor or osteopathic physician, which is just one more attempt to diminish credibility in a smear campaign. Some of the other outrageous claims made in Cockerellâ€™s Coda Story article is a quote from Imran Ahmed, CCDHâ€™s CEO, which states, â€œJoseph Mercola is a superspreader of antivaccine and COVID disinformation. The fact that he has said he will self-censor shows the impact of penalizing antivaccine propagandists.â€�5
The idea that I am self-censoring due to some form of unnamed penalty is quite a stretch, and makes it clear that Ahmed did not read the article I published explaining my reasoning for removing select content. Cockerell also implies that Iâ€™m part of an â€œanti-science movementâ€� â€” another lie thatâ€™s easily â€œfact-checked,â€� considering one of the driving forces behind Mercola.com is to share science-backed health information â€” including the science that not everyone wants you to hear.
NewsGuard Also Reached Out for Comment
In its ongoing scrutiny and â€œgradingâ€� of the Mercola.com website, NewsGuard, the self-ascribed arbiter of the trustworthiness of internet websites, asked for information on our COVID-19 articles so NewsGuard can update its rating of Mercola.comâ€™s coverage of the pandemic. The email from John Gregory, NewsGuardâ€™s deputy editor on health, follows:
â€œMy name is John Gregory, deputy editor on health at NewsGuard. You spoke last year with a colleague of mine for our rating on Mercola.com.
We are updating our rating to reflect Mercola’s coverage of the novel coronavirus strain, known as COVID-19. In an article titled “Novel Coronavirus â€” The Latest Pandemic Scare,” the site promotes two unfounded conspiracy theories about the virus’ origins:
â€¢ The article stated: “In January 2018, China’s first maximum security virology laboratory (biosecurity level 4) designed for the study of the world’s most dangerous pathogens opened its doors â€” in Wuhan. Is it pure coincidence that Wuhan City is now the epicenter of this novel coronavirus infection?â€�
There is no evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, and genomic evidence has found that the virus is “96% percent identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus.â€�
â€¢ The article also stated that “the hysteria being drummed up follows a now well-worn pattern where the population is kept in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear about microbes so that drug companies (aided by federal health officials) can come to the rescue with yet another expensive (and potentially mandatory) drug or vaccine.â€�
It later suggested the outbreak was timed to coincide with the presidential budget request in order to benefit “the Pharma and public health lobby.” No evidence is provided to back this conspiracy, nor does any appear to exist. Why did Mercola.com publish these claims, despite the lack of evidence backing them up?â€�
NewsGuard previously classified Mercola.com as fake news because we reported the SARS-CoV-2 virus as potentially having been leaked from the biosafety level 4 (BSL4) laboratory in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to NewsGuard, â€œThere is no evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, and genomic evidence has found that the virus is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus.â€�6 But NewsGuardâ€™s position is in direct conflict with evidence suggesting this virus was created in a lab and not zoonotically transmitted.
For those who arenâ€™t aware, NewsGuard is another threat to the free sharing of information. It claims to rate information as reliable or fake news, supplying you with a color-coded rating system next to Google and Bing searches, as well as on articles displayed on social media.
If you rely on NewsGuardâ€™s ratings, you may decide to entirely skip by those with a low â€œredâ€� rating in favor of the â€œmore trustworthyâ€� green-rated articles â€” but NewsGuard is in itself fraught with conflicts of interest, as itâ€™s largely funded by Publicis, a global communications giant thatâ€™s partnered with Big Pharma, such that it may be viewed more as a censorship tool than an internet watchdog.
Full, Transparent Coda Story Email Exchange
Since Cockerellâ€™s article on behalf of Coda Story gives no inkling of our email response, itâ€™s published in its entirety below. Youâ€™ll see that important details were omitted from the article, like calls for cyberwarfare experts to be enlisted against vaccine safety advocates, without which itâ€™s virtually impossible to gain an understanding of whatâ€™s really going on.
FROM: Isobel Cockerell
Dear Joseph and the press team at Mercola,
I’m writing an article about your decision to remove Covid-related content from your website. I have a few questions and would be grateful for a response – we’re publishing the piece today and it would be so helpful to have a quote from you as soon as possible.
Anti-hate groups such as the CCDH are viewing this as a huge victory for science. What’s your response to that?
Is self-censorship the only way to maintain your platform on social media?
How do you respond to claims that the content you’re sharing is dangerous misinformation and that its distribution should be reduced in order to maintain vaccine rates?
Many thanks for your help.
FROM: Mercola PR
Since CCDHâ€™s associate Peter Hotez publicly demanded attacks should be launched against us by terrorism and cyberwarfare experts, our website has been taken down by these attacks twice in the last week.
Dr. Mercola has encountered several serious threats to himself and his business, the damages have been really significant and we hope the digital hate group, Nature, and the Gates-funded Hotez will please call a stop for these attacks.
Dr. Mercola first reported the virus was likely leaked from the Wuhan laboratory in February 2020. Fact-checking groups had called this a conspiracy from the beginning (please see note from John Gregory). It is really difficult for the mainstream scientists and media who have been wrong about this to admit it now.
The digital hate group even utilizes this reason in their most recent report to deplatform us.
But it turns out everything we stated well over a year ago is now being validated.
The truth is really frightening for some people and industries; they will do anything to perpetuate propaganda that protects the most powerful pharmaceutical industry. It turns out that Publicis owns fact checkers like Newsguard, and they are a public relations company now being sued for illegally marketing opioids that killed thousands of people.
Itâ€™s really difficult to be in a position that in order to remain on these monopoly platforms, you have to lie and not make statements that upset the global pharmaceutical operations or their fact checking front groups.
Coda Story Response: We â€˜Consider the Matter Closedâ€™
Coda Story claims that it â€œtells you stories you never heard before, shows you connections you never knew existed, and investigates the nuance and complexity of the world.â€�7 Surely, then, its reporters would be eager to dive into the counterpoints provided in our email, in order to explore, investigate and share these connections with the world.
In reality, they revealed their true colors, both with the blatant lies they published and their refusal to explore the truth further, even after it was clearly presented. In the final email response from Coda Story, Burhan Wazir, managing editor, wrote:
Thank you for contacting Coda Story about Isobel Cockerellâ€™s brief. As you will be aware, Isobel reached out to the Mercola team for comment and we updated our story with the company representativeâ€™s position. We thank you for your cooperation and consider the matter closed.