In reporting about the Ofcom ruling against GB News host Mark Steyn this morning, the Telegraph has managed to misrepresent the reason for the breach, and in doing so wrongly make it appear that to suggest problems with the vaccines is against Ofcom rules.
The Telegraph report states that: “TV regulator Ofcom ruled Mr Steyn had broken the rules when he suggested there may be a link between the vaccination and ‘higher infection, hospitalisation and death rates’.” (my italics)
However, both the Ofcom ruling and the accompanying story on the website are completely clear that the breach, which occurred during an episode of the Mark Steyn Show broadcast in April 2022, was a result of claiming that “official UKHSA data provided definitive evidence of a causal link between receiving a third COVID-19 vaccine and higher infection, hospitalisation and death rates” (my italics). Not because he simply “suggested there may be a link”.
Here is the how the Ofcom website story opens:
We have been consistently clear that, under our rules, broadcasters are free to transmit programmes which may be considered controversial and challenging, or which question statistics or other evidence produced by governments or other official sources. It can clearly be in the public interest to do so. However, with this editorial freedom comes an obligation to ensure that, when portraying factual matters, audiences are not materially misled.
In this case, our investigation found that an episode of the Mark Steyn programme fell short of these standards – not because it exercised its editorial freedom to challenge mainstream narratives around COVID-19 vaccination – but because, in doing so, it presented a materially misleading interpretation of official data without sufficient challenge or counterweight, risking harm to viewers.
Specifically, the programme incorrectly claimed that official UKHSA data provided definitive evidence of a causal link between receiving a third COVID-19 vaccine and higher infection, hospitalisation and death rates.
It goes on to stress that Ofcom took into account “the definitive way in which the misleading interpretation of the data was presented” as well as the failure to note confounders in the data.
Read More: Telegraph Misrepresents Ofcom Ruling Against Mark Steyn