– sure, let’s trust a non-doctor billionaire who pays media instead
As plutocratic philanthropist Bill Gates urges Americans to reject government regulators and embrace private-sector vaccine developers – which he both funds and profits from – it’s worth asking why people still trust this man.
Gates bemoaned the decline of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, the US’ two chief health regulatory agencies in charge of monitoring drug safety, in a pair of interviews on Tuesday, insisting they’d become politicized servants of the Trump administration. Instead, he argued, Americans should trust private-sector pharmaceutical companies – specifically Pfizer – to save the day with a Covid-19 vaccine, possibly even before the year’s end!
Like much of the advice Gates has spouted during the Covid-19 pandemic, his dismissal of the regulators was self-serving and unsupported by medical expertise or evidence. Worse, it was reported uncritically by the media establishment, many of whom neglected to disclose the money they receive from the Gates Foundation alongside their fawning coverage of its founder.
As a major investor in the pharmaceutical sector who has shoveled millions of dollars into development of seven different vaccines for the novel coronavirus alone, Gates stands to make trillions if one of “his” jabs eventually “wins.” He has made no secret of his desire to vaccinate the entire population of the earth, a mind-bogglingly expensive project that would presumably be paid for by the same hapless governments that have been bullied into assuming all the liability for the rushed jab’s side effects.
With the US and other countries already inking multiple high-dollar deals for hitherto-untested (and in a few cases, clearly unsafe) vaccines, the only potential obstacles to the biggest payday in pharmaceutical history are the regulators, which – though largely defanged and domesticated by a muscular pharmaceutical lobby – still require a few basic safety requirements to be met in order to roll out a new shot. After a patient in AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial was left with serious spinal cord damage, it was the FDA that voiced concerns about resuming the trial – even as British regulators merrily green-lighted potential further harms. Every regulatory roadblock is more money Gates has to shell out to eventually recoup his investment.
There’s good reason to be cautious. Pandemrix, the last rush-developed vaccine rolled out under the watch of the man in charge of the Trump administration’s vaccine gold rush – former GlaxoSmithKline vaccine director Moncef Slaoui – left hundreds of children ill, including brain damage, and cost the UK government millions of pounds in restitution payments.
Gates can perhaps be forgiven for his ignorance of the Pandemrix saga. After all, the Microsoft founder is not a doctor. He never even graduated college, let alone attended medical school. But his staggering financial success has been used to distract from his total lack of expertise, and especially since the pandemic began, he’s been carted out to speak on topics about which he knows next to nothing. From the utility of lockdowns (he loves ‘em) to hydroxychloroquine treatment (evil, bad, wrong) to conspiracy theorists (censor them), there’s no subject on which Gates’ word isn’t treated as gospel.
But it’s easy to see the conflicts of interest here, too. A population locked down for an extended period is much more likely to accept a vaccine as a condition for regaining their freedom, no matter how untested or unsafe. An effective, low-cost treatment for Covid-19 – which many doctors swear hydroxychloroquine is when administered alongside zinc and an antibiotic – would completely scuttle his universal vaccination plan. And given how many of those so-called conspiracy theorists are speculating about Gates’ real motivations (hint: the man who wants to surveil the entire surface of the earth from space and talks about digital “certificates” to show who’s had Covid-19 or been vaccinated is probably not doing this out of a love for humanity), he has every reason to want them silenced.
Indeed, the conflicts of interest in the vast majority of Gates’ public statements are so obvious they wouldn’t even bear mentioning – except that not one mainstream media article worshipfully reprinting his “words of wisdom” mentions them. With so few reasons to trust Gates, why is he still trotted out as an expert on every topic?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hands out millions of dollars every year to news outlets to “inform and engage communities,” and most well-known English-language media are on their list of grantees. In addition to titles like the Guardian, Financial Times, National Public Radio, and NBCUniversal, the very entities supposedly tasked with guarding journalistic integrity are in Gates’ pocket. Groups like the Poynter Institute, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting have all benefited from the vaccine magnate’s largesse. And by donating to entities like the New Venture Fund, Gates can funnel money to other media outlets without explicitly declaring where the money is going.
While representatives of the Gates Foundation have hotly denied their donations pay for loyalty (or, in the case of the fact-checkers who reflexively defend the billionaire against any and all unsavory claims, for selective truth-telling), a recent report by the Columbia Journalism Review found Gates had basically bought the most trusted names in news. More disturbingly, it found evidence that the Gates Foundation had in at least one case gone over the heads of reporters to pressure their editors to quash stories critical of it. Money talks, especially in the perpetually cash-strapped journalism industry.
It’s easy to see, then, why the media establishment hangs on Gates’ every word. But perhaps all the other millions of people to whom he’s presented with everything short of a halo over his head should step back and re-examine whether they trust Big Brother in a sweater vest to decide their future.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.