If you were heading out Friday afternoon and listening to KNUS, you might have heard a caller tell right-wing radio host Steffan Tubbs that the COVID vaccine has killed “hundreds, maybe thousands” of people, and officials refuse to talk about it.
“If they have 20 people die in a vaccine, they take it off the shelf,” the caller told Tubbs. “We’ve had hundreds, maybe thousands of people die, and they won’t even report it. And the instances and the things it’s done to people’s bodies, they’ve refused to talk about these things.”
Tubbs reply: “Yep, spot on.”
The caller continued, “It’s all fear-based. You know, they’re lying at some level. They are manipulating at some level.”
Tubbs’ final response: “Good call.”
I texted Tubbs as I waited at a drive-thru pharmacy: “Media covering up thousands of deaths due to COVID vaccine. You don’t correct callers like him?”
He responded with, “Please kindly F—K OFF and never text me again.”
On air, Tubbs called me “one of our trolls.”
“Is it wrong, because I couldn’t care about this idiot’s opinion or whatever, that [I texted him] you can kindly f-off and lose this number?” said Tubbs on air after I texted him. “Was that bad to say? …I didn’t think it was.
“And we are a loving show. I mean the wall of love is on fire since 3:00. The phone lines have been on fire.”
Perhaps Tubbs is worried that his “on fire” phone lines would dim if he pointed out there’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has killed anyone. People have died around the time they took the vaccine but scientists haven’t linked any deaths to the inoculation.
There’s also no evidence that health problems with the vaccine are being covered up by the media or officials.
Tubbs’ encouragement of COVID misinformation on his show comes as his station, KNUS, as well as fellow host Randy Corporon, were named in a lawsuit filed Saturday alleging they defamed an executive at Dominion Voting Sytems, based in Denver. The complaint refers to other hosts at KNUS as spreading false claims about the executive, Eric Coomer.
Audio Industry Less Scrutinized than Social Media
The “spot-on” comment by Tubbs, who was hospitalized with COVID this year, is an illustration of how, as reported by the New York Times last week, right-wing radio chains and podcasts are allowing COVID misinformation to spew into the airwaves and online, while social media sites have tried to control it.
The Times reported:
“As the global death toll related to Covid-19 exceeds five million — and at a time when more than 40 percent of Americans are not fully vaccinated — iHeart, Spotify, Apple and many smaller audio companies have done little to rein in what radio hosts and podcasters say about the virus and vaccination efforts. …
The audio industry has not drawn the same scrutiny as large social media companies, whose executives have been questioned in congressional hearings about the platforms’ role in spreading false or misleading information.
The social media giants have made efforts over the last year to stop the flow of false reports related to the pandemic. In September, YouTube said it was banning the accounts of several prominent anti-vaccine activists. It also removes or de-emphasizes content it deems to be misinformation or close to it. Late last year, Twitter announced that it would remove posts and ads with false claims about coronavirus vaccines. Facebook followed suit in February, saying it would remove false claims about vaccines generally.
“Research has shown that our News Talk format is highly complementary to our core format of Christian Teaching and Talk,” states the conservative Salem Media Group, which owns KNUS, in promoting its “conservative news talk” shows on its website. “As programmed by Salem, both formats express conservative views and family values. Our News Talk format also provides us with the opportunity to leverage syndicated talk programming produced by Salem Radio Network® (SRN). Our nationally syndicated programs are distributed through approximately 2700 affiliates.”
Tubbs may consider me a troll for reporting that despite promoting himself “newsman, now with an opinion,” Tubbs won’t offer an opinion on whether his conservative audience should get vaccinated.
Instead, he mocks the pro-vaccination campaigns on air, as he did Friday poking at Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) for again warning of a COVID crisis in Colorado after his making similar statements in the past and his assuring Coloradans that things would be okay by the All-Star Game last summer.
Tubbs won’t say whether he’s vaccinated, and he says he’s “not an anti-vaxxer.”