Reuters ‘Fact Check’ Shields Pfizer CEO, Fails to Disclose Reuters Chairman Is on Pfizer Board

Reuters rushed to spin Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s recent comments on his company’s vaccine in a so-called “Fact Check” and failed to disclose that a senior executive in the Reuters apparatus happens to sit on Pfizer’s board of directors.

Reuters attempted fact-checking a Bourla clip. Yahoo! Yahoo! Finance His vaccine’s effectiveness against Omicron COVID-19. Bourla made a revealing statement that “two doses of the vaccine offer very limited protection,If none. The three doses with the booster — they offer reasonable protection against hospitalizations and deaths,” but “There is no protection from infection.” Reuters tried to slap down people on social media who were pointing out alleged discrepancies between Bourla’s Jan. 10 statements and previous comments he made in 2021 touting the Pfizer vaccine’s alleged overwhelming protection against infection. 

Reuters quickly stated that Bourla’s remarks on Yahoo! Yahoo! Finance were specific to the Omicron variant, and didn’t downplay the vaccine’s efficacy against other variants. Such a distinction appears irrelevant, however, because Omicron “now makes up nearly all sequenced [COVID-19] cases in the U.S.,” according to CNBC. Bourla’s comments also appeared to move the goalposts for recommended protection measures that Americans should take against COVID-19 as his company is now reportedly recommending a “redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron coronavirus variant” in addition to previous shots.

But it appears Reuters may have a vested interest in protecting Pfizer’s credibility. The chairman for the Thomson Reuters Foundation Board of Trustees, James Smith, just happens to sit on Pfizer’s board of directors. Reuters didn’t disclose any conflict of interest whatsoever in the pro-Pfizer writeup. Thomson Reuters Foundation serves as the corporate foundation of Reuters. The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics clearly states that journalists should “[a]Real and perceived conflicts of interests must be thrown out. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.” 

But Reuters wasn’t the only one to omit context about a conflict of interest while accusing Twitter users of “missing context.” Twitter plastered a big notice on its platform that Bourla’s comments were taken “out of context,” and cited Reuters as one of its sources. Twitter did not reveal that Smith was on Pfizer’s board and also left out important context. Bourla specifically said that “two doses of the vaccine offer very limited protection, If any,” which suggests that there could be no protection at all against Omicron from two doses of the Pfizer vaccination. [Emphasis added.]

Twitter left the “if any” part out of its summarization of Bourla’s comments in what appears to be an attempt to cushion the impact of what he said: 

Bourla claimed that three doses (three doses) of Pfizer’s vaccine offered reasonable protection against death or hospitalization from the Omicron version of COVID-19. Two doses only offer limited protection. Snopes reported that his remarks were misrepresented online.

Conservatives are being attacked.For more information, contact Reuters and demand it update its “fact check” to disclose its potential conflict of interest concerning Thomson Reuters Foundation Chairman James Smith sitting on Pfizer’s board of directors.


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