Question asked on May 29, 2022
You ask us about the origin of a text relayed on social media, the appearance of which evokes that of a press article, and presented as taken from the title the Daily Meeting. It would be “A warning in the form of a question about the terrible dangers posed by Pfizer / Moderna mRNA vaccines against COVID-19”. The text, titled “Messenger RNA Vaccine: Study Sounds Alarm” echoes “Extremely serious and well-documented study without authors’ conflicts of interest published in ScienceDirect on April 15”which would yield “Results to be published in the Official Journal of the Chinese Society of Toxicology (FCT), an internationally renowned toxicology journal” according to which “Sars-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines” would cause: the creation of a modified mRNA with complex but mostly unpredictable effects; the sustained manufacture of Spike proteins; impaired innate immunity “etc.
As several internet users have quickly pointed out – and a journalist from the Everyday – this text, actually published this May 27 in the Reunion newspaper, is not a journalistic article. It’s actually from the “Readers’ Mail” page. In the printed version, the name of the topic appears very clearly at the top of the page. In the online version, this important precision is hidden.
The study referred to is known to readers of CheckNewssince we had devoted an article to it in early May. Published online on April 15 on the magazine’s publisher’s website Food and Chemical Toxicologythis alarmist publication has been widely criticizedpointing the finger at the essentially speculative nature of the argument, as well as the lack of expertise of the authors with respect to the many topics they address.
Even in readers’ mail, the publication of a text promoting such a controversial article, without a journalistic perspective, in the Daily Meetingappealed to many netizens.
A text that has been circulating for at least ten days
The published letter appears to have been signed by a certain Bruno Bourgeon, a Reunionese nephrologist. One “Accustomed to the letters of the readers of the Everyday», as noted in August by one of the headline journalists in an article covering the protests against the health pass, in which this doctor participated. In the last nine months, at least twenty letters signed in his name have been published on page 2 of the Everyday, on topics that are primarily related to issues of ecology. However, the team of CheckNews was surprised to recognize, in this prose, a text circulating for at least ten days on various websitespresented under another signature.
With the exception of the introduction of the letter, most of the paragraphs appear in copy-paste of a text signed by a man named Thibaut Masco, author of a letter circulated on a subscription, called “Uncensored Health”, which appears as a stores of “New alternatives free from lobbies”. Contacted by CheckNewsBruno Bourgeon confirms that it has taken over the text of “Uncensored Health”, “By adapting it to be a little more proselytizing towards the Reunion population.” But the Daily has not taken up in full the text I sent them, it will be published on my association’s website. “ The nephrologist tells us that he “I haven’t read the reviews of this article yet.” He clarifies to us, however “When someone says something that’s not in the mainstream movement, I tend to think that the criticism behind it is already well-directed, often by people who may have conflicts of interest.”. The nephrologist had been the subject of controversial remarks on health measures convened in December before the College of Physiciansbut no sanctions had been imposed on him – because, according to Bourgeon, “Procedural defect”.
“A committed reflection on scientific information”
Kevin Bulard, Editor of the Meeting dailyexplains to CheckNews to have been informed of the controversy during the day. «The Daily Meeting was created in 1976, in a very special context, a context of locked information. The right had all the newspapers, in which nothing could be put but the dominant voice – 90% of the Reunion population, mostly Creoles, were left out. This newspaper was created precisely to fight censorship, and from the beginning we have been fighting for freedom of expression. Readers’ mail is a space of freedom of expression, and we are very attached to it. But obviously, it’s not without limits. The editorial board is based on the law: all mail related to defamation, incitement to racial hatred, all forms of discrimination, appeals to violence, etc. That’s our compass. Readers’ letters are positions of opinion, opinions, which are free speech, but this is not a reflection of the editorial line of the newspaper. ” The manager states that The Daily “published letters from readers who are in favor of vaccination… and have earned us dumps of insultsReferring to “A letter from a professor at the University of Reunion linking the fourth wave in the French overseas departments, the low vaccination rate, and the illiteracy rate… Be careful what is published, but one can be wrong. We do not always have the scientific knowledge to validate the statements. But we have the legal knowledge to know what is right or wrong. ”
The editor notes that he received a letter on May 30 from a researcher commenting on the article in Food and Chemical Toxicology. “We’ll remind you”, he explains. As for the precaution of seeking outside opinion or the advice of scientific editors on such matters, Kevin Bulard admits that “These are debates that are going on in the drafting of the Everyday. There has been a lot of talk about this lately. The newspaper hosted a health and wellness trade show, and it was an opportunity to put things on the table. There are indeed very different opinions on how to handle scientific information in the newsroom, and we are thinking about how we are going to improve. Last week and the week before, everyone defended their arguments on the subject, it gave rise to sometimes lively exchanges, and it was agreed to ask, and to establish a method. Until now, we have been on the journalistic treatment of scientific information and health issues more generally, and we will include the readers’ mail in this reflection. We are a small regional daily newspaper. If we are not at the top, we are trying to improve. ”
Activists “use newspaper as propaganda tool”
The controversy of the weekend resonated strongly in the writing of the Everyday. Edouard Marchal, union delegate of the SNJ section of the newspaper, judge “That medical and scientific counter-truths cannot be allowed to spread so casually.” The answer is that this has been published in readers’ mail cannot satisfy us. The publisher’s responsibility is obviously to have control over the editorial content. And this is true for readers’ mail, especially when it is placed on page 2 as is our case, and it is enriched with a photo… » He also believes that “The Readers’ Mail page is unquestionably used cynically by anti-vaccine activists, who use the newspaper as a propaganda tool.”
The present controversy “Follows a number of reservations that we have already expressed on the editorial line, and on the way in which movements hostile to vaccination are treated.” In a department where we are on vaccination rates below the national average, I think we have an increased duty of vigilance. Admittedly, we are not specialist journalists, we do not all have the necessary scientific culture to address these issues, but we need to do our job of verifying and clarifying the information. The abscess must be punctured in favor of this incident. The one thing that can be blamed on us is certainly not having responded to these issues earlier, perhaps because we did not want to create tensions between divergent opinions within the newsroom. But today I think we can no longer keep quiet: it is our reputation as journalists that is tarnished today. We pass for gillnets by publishing this kind of text “concludes Edouard Marchal.