A Project Veritas video claimed that it featured someone named “Jordon Trishton Walker, Pfizer … [+]
Tucker Carlson has claimed on his FOX News show Tucker Carlson Tonight that there’s been “a near-total media blackout of this story.” But since there doesn’t seem to be any type of memo circulating to journalists telling them to not cover “this story,” let’s cover it now and see how much real veritas it really has.
What’s “this story” that’s supposedly the subject of a media blackout? Well, Carlson has also tweeted the following about it: “Project Veritas just released an undercover video of a Pfizer executive bragging about how his company conducts Frankenstein science, manipulating COVID viruses for profit, and does it in secret, possibly in violation of federal law.” Wow, a Pfizer exec bragging about “Frankenstein science?” That sounds like a monstrous revelation, doesn’t it? But before Carlson’s claim makes you sit bolt upright in your chair, keep in mind that this was Carlson who had said this. Yes, this was the Tucker Carlson whom John Oliver has called a “superspreader” of Covid-19 vaccine fears and doubts and a “scrunch-faced fear baboon,” as I covered on May 3, 2021, for Forbes. Now, to be fair, Carlson is not necessarily always “scrunch-faced.” He also has sported the “I’m concerned” and the “What’s you talking about, Willis” facial expressions. But is there any truth to what Carlson has been claiming about this Project Veritas video or is it actually a hot air baboon situation?
The video appeared to be an undercover video because the footage was rather grainy and filmed at a rather awkward angle. This video featured someone described by Project Veritas as “Jordon Trishton Walker, Pfizer Director of Research and Development – Strategic Operations and mRNA Scientific Planning,” answering questions from an unidentified interviewer. So you could either take Project Veritas’s or Carlson’s words for it, or you could search for the person on Google, Bing, or Duck Duck Go yourself. After, someone with that kind of title should be fairly easy to find on the Internet, right? Well, a Google search didn’t really reveal any legitimate source that could verify the person’s name and title. Of note, a search for “Triston” without the “h” did return an Urban Dictionary entry that described “Triston” as “a very hot and cute boy who always wants to disagree. Who has the softest hair in the entire world.” So if you are looking for someone hot, disagreeable, and with really soft hair, there is that.
OK, assuming that the video featured an actually Pfizer exec, did it really show what Carlson claimed. Rather than one continuous piece of footage, the video seemed more like a compilation of clips stitched together. That can make it difficult to tell the actual flow of the conversation and the context around everything that was said. For example, in the video, this so-called Walker guy explained, “We’re exploring, like, you know how the virus keeps mutating? Well, one of the things we’re exploring is like, why don’t we just mutate it ourselves, so we could focus on, create, preemptively develop new vaccines, right?” At another point in the video, the interviewer asked, “Okay. So, Pfizer ultimately is thinking about mutating COVID?” To this the alleged Walker person responded, “Well that is not what we say to the public, no. That’s why it was, it was a thought that came up in a meeting and we were like: ‘Why do we not?’” And elsewhere in the video, the interviewer queried, “So, I mean, when is Pfizer going to implement the mutation of all these viruses?” This prompted the following reply from the this-is-supposed-to-be-Walker person: “I don’t know, it depends on how the experiments work out because this is just like, something we’re trying, right?”
About what was said in the video, Carlson summarized, “Well, it sounds a lot like the gain-of-function research you read about, the research that was occurring at the Wuhan lab just before Covid broke out of the lab and overturned the world and wrecked the U.S. economy.”
Umm, thinking and talking about a possibility is not the same as saying that something is actually being done. You can think about and talk everything that you are going to do with Jason Mamoa, Emily Ratajkowski, or Triston and his soft, soft hair but the chances of meeting any of them through Tinder may be pretty darn low. They have to actually be on Tinder. They have to swipe right and so do you. You have to chit chat a little bit. You have to say things like, “Aside from being sexy, what do you do for a living” and “Do you like raisins? How do you feel about a date?” You know, there are a lot of steps between conceptual discussions and reality. Similarly, without seeing the whole original unedited continuous footage of the Project Veritas video, you can’t really tell whether there was any actual concrete discussion of Pfizer’s plans or whether everything was more of a theoretical discussion.
Can you say for sure that this Project Veritas video is fake or staged and that “Jordon Trishton Walker” is actually a crisis actor and that Triston doesn’t really has the softest hair in the world? No, not at this moment. But the way that this video has been pushed has been highly questionable. Claiming that this was video showed “a Pfizer executive bragging about how his company conducts Frankenstein science, manipulating COVID viruses for profit, and does it in secret, possibly in violation of federal law” seems to be quite a leap. There’s certainly no evidence of a “a near-total media blackout of this story,” unless by “a near-total” you mean “no real.” Journalists don’t tend to take anything that rings of censorship lightly. Look at how quickly journalists responded when Elon Musk suspended the Twitter accounts of several journalists after they reported on the @ElonJet account that followed the travels of Musk’s airplane or perhaps airplanes, as Bobby Allyn reported for NPR. What then is the likelihood that a “near total media blackout” could somehow be implemented without many journalists loudly crying foul?
Real journalists are obviously quite busy because a lot bleep is happening in the world. They tend to report on something only after there are enough facts to verify the story. Plus, just because you don’t see the articles yet, doesn’t mean that journalists aren’t researching it and looking further into what’s going on before deciding whether it deserves coverage. A marriage doesn’t happen overnight. Well, most marriages don’t at least. Similarly, legitimate news articles don’t appear without the groundwork being done first.
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference … [+]
In this case, you’ve got to look at the source of this video, Project Veritas. PBS News Hour has described Project Veritas as “a conservative group infamous for recording undercover videos” and “promoting voter fraud accusations on social media.” In the past, they’ve already been accused on putting together and disseminating “heavily edited” videos in efforts to target Democratic consultants, as described by Jonathan Stempel in an article for Reuters. Then there was the November 29, 2017, article for The Guardian with the headline, “Project Veritas: how fake news prize went to rightwing group beloved by Trump” and the subheading, “James O’Keefe’s organisation specialising in media stings received donations from Trump’s foundation but was caught red-handed peddling a false story.” In the article, Ed Pilkington described Project Veritas as “a discredited rightwing attack organization run by James O’Keefe that specializes in sting operations against liberal groups and the established media.” Does that sound like a credible news source?
On his show, Carlson did say some things that do deserve more attention. He did express concerns about the power and influence of big pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. He exclaimed, “In this country, Big Pharma can advertise its drugs directly to consumers and that’s a little strange if you think about it, since consumers don’t prescribe drugs, doctors do. So, why are the drugs being advertised directly to consumers?” He also stated that “drug companies spend more on lobbying the Congress than any other industry, a lot more than any other industry and they don’t do it by accident. They do it because it pays off. In a deal like this, a pretty remarkable deal, the drug companies have worked out with politicians. So, the government uses your tax dollars to buy billions worth of their products and then in some cases forces you to use those products.” While it’s not clear where pharmaceutical companies rank in terms of lobbying money versus other interests and industries such as coal and oil, you can’t deny that a lot lobbying has been happening.
So, yes, there should be more scrutiny over what big pharmaceutical companies. Sure, one has to question the merits of allowing so much direct-to-consumer advertising where pharmaceutical companies can convince you that you have all these different ailments and start asking your genitals, “Are you all that you can be?” Sure, the public deserves more transparency from big pharmaceutical companies since they’ve benefited from billions upon billions of taxpayer money. But to claim that journalists haven’t been reporting on negative big pharma news as because the media “take huge amounts of advertising dollars from Pfizer,” as Carlson claimed on his show, doesn’t match reality. You can find plenty of news articles from legitimate media outlets criticizing big pharmaceutical companies and their practices.
So, in the end, this Project Veritas video really hasn’t proven or even provided strong evidence of anything. There’s a lot in the Project Veritas video that needs much further verification before you can make very strong statements about anything.