GB News in ‘significant breach’ of Ofcom rules over Covid vaccine claims

·2-min read
Ofcom said GB News ‘fell short’ of the requirement to protect audiences from potentially harmful content ((GB News/PA))
Ofcom said GB News ‘fell short’ of the requirement to protect audiences from potentially harmful content ((GB News/PA))

An interview on GB News with a Covid vaccine sceptic – in which the jab was compared to “mass murder” – was in breach of broadcasting rules, Ofcom has found.

The media watchdog said the episode of The Mark Steyn Show on the right-wing channel, which aired in October 2022, was in “significant breach” of its code.

The programme featured an interview with Canadian author Dr Naomi Wolf, who claimed the vaccine rollout was a pre-meditated crime amounting “mass murder”, and was comparable to the actions of “doctors in pre-Nazi Germany”.

Ofcom said the channel allowed the author to “promote a serious conspiracy theory without challenge or context” and offered “no scrutiny” of the evidence she claimed to hold to support her claim.

“We found that the comments made by Naomi Wolf had the potential to impact viewers’ decisions about their health and were therefore potentially harmful,” the regulator said.

The media body said it received 422 complaints that alleged these comments were “dangerous” and included “misinformation” that went “unopposed”.

Ofcom said it was the second significant breach of the code recorded against GB News and therefore it is requesting the broadcaster attends a meeting with the media regulator “to discuss its approach to compliance”.

Since March 2020, Ofcom has received over 26,000 complaints about TV and radio coverage relating to the Covid pandemic – finding nine programmes in breach of the rules.

On Monday, GB News broadcast a programme in which MP Andrew Bridgen – expelled buy the Tory party – stood by his claims that widespread harm has been caused by adverse reactions to Covid vaccines.

He had the Conservative whip removed in January over a tweet comparing the Covid vaccine rollout to the Holocaust, before being kicked out of the party last month.

An earlier episode of the Mark Steyn programme was found to have broken rules by presenting a “materially misleading interpretation” of official data on the Covid vaccine “without sufficient challenge or context”.

Lawrence Fox was recently accused of “spewing out biased views” during an interview segment on his GB News show that swiftly went off the rails.

Asked his thoughts on a report criticising the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Dr Bharat Pankhania told him: “I sometimes wonder why you exist, to be honest with you.”

The doctor continued: “A lot of these things that you spew out, just send things that are worrisome to people, are not verified, not factual.”

The regulator is currently investigating whether a GB News’ Saturday Morning with Esther and Philip broadcast on 11 March 2023 broke rules requiring news to be presented with due impartiality.