OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Back in July, Pfizer announced a massive agreement with the U.S. Government for a vaccine as part of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. Unfortunately, when so-called journalist Daniel Dale decided to fact-check this easily verifiable fact, he somehow failed and instead told millions of Americans the exact opposite. So how did we end up here? Let’s take a walk down well-documented memory lane.
In the July announcement, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said,
“We’ve been committed to making the impossible possible by working tirelessly to develop and produce in record time a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We made the early decision to begin clinical work and large-scale manufacturing at our own risk to ensure that product would be available immediately if our clinical trials prove successful and an Emergency Use Authorization is granted. We are honored to be a part of this effort to provide Americans access to protection from this deadly virus.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar added,
“Expanding Operation Warp Speed’s diverse portfolio by adding a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year. Depending on success in clinical trials, today’s agreement will enable the delivery of approximately 100 million doses of this vaccine to the American people.”
This was big news, as the country was being ravaged by the novel Corona virus. So naturally, the New York Times published an article about the deal, stating,
“The Contract is part of what the White House calls the Warp Speed project, an effort to drastically shorten the time it would take to manufacture and distribute a working vaccine.”
On November 9th, Pfizer announced that phase-3 data showed a vaccine that was “more than 90% effective” at preventing COVID-19, which is phenomenal news for the American people, as well as a huge victory for President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.
Naturally, Vice President Mike Pence congratulated both the President and Pfizer for their “public-private partnership,” which lead to success.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 9, 2020
Others, like conservative commentator Mark Levin, likewise praised the impressive Warp Speed accomplishment from Pfizer:
. Project Warp Speed! Well done Pfizer-Biontech and well done Mr. President! This is what will save lives, not Biden’s empty talk. This is called SCIENCE Biden, Democrats, and media! And President Trump should tout it all day long!
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) November 9, 2020
The New York Times also congratulated Pfizer by writing an article about their tremendous accomplishment, in which they completely contradicted their previous article, as well as the Pfizer statements from earlier in the year, saying,
“Pfizer’s Dr. Jansen sought to distance the company from Operation Warp Speed and presidential politics, noting that the company did not take any federal money to help pay for research and development. “We were never part of the Warp Speed,” she said”
Immediately, the left jumped on the supposed inconsistency, flooding twitter with vicious comments about Vice President Pence and other conservatives lying about Pfizer being part of Warp Speed and stealing credit. “Fact-checker” Daniel Dale led the charge with a Washington Post “fact-check,” citing the New York Times article.
“No, Pfizer’s apparent vaccine success is not a function of Trumps ‘Operation Warp Speed.”
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2020
You did nothing. Literally nothing. pic.twitter.com/KXTcqbrCZV
— Sean Bertollo 🗽🇺🇸 (@Ollotreb) November 9, 2020
Mike Pence is lying —again.
Pfizer says it did NOT join in the administration’s partnership.
Pfizer head of vaccine development Dr. Kathrin Jansen told the NY Times: “We were never part of the Warp Speed … We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone pic.twitter.com/vQqafzQbpz
— Glory (@CDonatac) November 9, 2020
The vaccine by Pfizer is real but the claim to a “public-private partnership” is FAKE NEWS given that Pfizer did not accept a single $ from the US government to develop this vaccine. Pfizer refused money because it specifically didn’t want Trump & co to make this type of claim!
— MURRAY🧢🇺🇸 (@murray_nyc) November 9, 2020
LOLOL you idiot.
They were never part of Warp Speed.
You never fail to fail. pic.twitter.com/Qr1tqXZzk9
— Holly Figueroa O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 9, 2020
But wait… Remember a few months ago when the New York Times wrote an article about their partnership with the U.S. Government as part of Operation Warp Speed? Did the New York Times forget that they wrote that article? Did Daniel Dale just not look any further than a single New York Times article? And what about the official Pfizer statement explicitly confirming that they are part of Operation Warp Speed? Are we supposed to pretend like those things just don’t exist?
Well, as “fact-checkers” might say, while the claim that Pfizer didn’t accept money from the U.S. Government to help pay for research and development is technically true, it is also incredibly misleading when presented without the correct context. But that’s par for the course for mainstream media like the New York Times.
Here’s the rest of the story.
It is accurate that the company did not receive any cash for their effort to research and develop a vaccine. But they did enter into a $1.95 billion deal with President Trump’s administration to sell 100 million doses of a completed vaccine to the government if it was accomplished by the end of the year. It has almost been accomplished and they will soon sell 100 million doses to the government, to the tune of $1.95 billion.
In the wake of the massively misleading “fact-check,” Pfizer responded to journalistic inquiries about the seeming inconsistencies and responded with a clarifying statement:
“Pfizer is proud to be one of various vaccine manufacturers participating in Operation Warp Speed as a supplier of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. While Pfizer did reach an advanced purchase agreement with the U.S. government, the company did not accept BARDA funding for the research and development process. All the investment for R&D was made by Pfizer at risk. Dr. Jansen’s comment, which was taken out of context, was just emphasizing that last point.”
Oh. I see. So the New York Times took Dr. Jansen’s statement out of context and wrote an article about it, then Daniel Dale relied solely on that misleading statement in that misleading New York Times article to “fact-check” the Vice President of the United States and others, leading to countless vicious personal attacks and millions of misinformed Americans. Sounds pretty standard for the mainstream media, unfortunately. I guess that’s one way to completely negate the impressive accomplishment of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed project.
“Fact-checker” Daniel Dale later posted a similar Pfizer statement to his Twitter account, apparently as clarification. Unsurprisingly, he failed to offer any semblance of an apology to the millions of deceived Americans, nor to the individuals who were directly impacted by his misleading “fact-check,” such as Vice President Pence and others who received many hateful comments. What does he care if people’s reputation and character were called into question on a public forum as a direct consequence of his deceitfulness?
Pfizer now says it *is* a participant in Warp Speed. Spokesperson notes its significant purchase agreement with the US government.
Pfizer’s head of vaccine development had told NYT it wasn’t part of Warp Speed because it didn’t take research $, but that’s not the whole story. pic.twitter.com/6J3FsoRX4a
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2020
Additionally, a White House spokesperson said,
“President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed expedited the regulatory process and provided billions of dollars to a portfolio of companies to deliver a safe and effective vaccine five times faster than any other in history.”
“Pfizer was among the companies that began working with the Administration beginning in March, followed by an investment of $1.95 billion announced in July to support large-scale manufacturing and distribution of 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine candidate to the American people free of charge.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the historic success of President Trump’s unprecedented public-private partnership, harnessing the full power of the federal government, private sector, military and scientific community to save millions of lives.”
We can all learn a few lessons from this situation. First, the mainstream media should learn to report facts in their proper context, not manipulate the facts and the context to fit their narrative. Second, “fact-checkers” don’t actually check their facts. They just find something that will back up the narrative they want to push. So fact-check things yourself with a little research. Pro tip, don’t use Google. Third, millions of people will believe anything that fits the narrative they like. Fourth, almost no one ever sees the retraction of false information. That’s why these “fact-checks” are so effective. Once the acceptable leftist narrative is distributed, the damage is done and can rarely be undone, even with incredibly compelling evidence (like official press statements or articles written by your own publication). So be vigilant and think for yourselves.