News Corp Australia journalist Sharri Markson told Fox News in the US that YouTube’s suspension of Sky News Australia for violating its Covid medical disinformation policy was “the most extreme cancellation of freedom of imaginable expression ”.
Markson, the Australian newspaper investigative writer and host of Sky News, appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight to talk about Sky News Australia’s seven-day YouTube ban. YouTube has not identified which videos violated the policy, but Sky had posted numerous videos disputing the severity of the disease and the need for blocks while promoting hydroxychlorquine or invermectin.
“Sky News, the entire news network in Australia, has been censored by YouTube for a whole week for providing informed and responsible coverage to Australians,” Markson told Carlson. “It is the most extreme cancellation of freedom of expression that you can imagine.”
Carlson agreed, saying that Australia had “become a Covid dictatorship” where simply asking questions about the masks could get you censored online.
But a professor of politics and public policy at the University of Queensland, Katharine Gelber, said that the right to free speech carries certain responsibilities.
“This is not a cancellation of free speech,” Gelber said Wednesday. “This is a sensible exercise to balance the rights of the people with the responsibility of the people in an era where this type of misinformation can cause considerable and long-term harm.
“Those who speak most frequently and out loud about freedom of expression act as if, unlike any other human right on the face of the earth, it carries no commensurate responsibilities.”
YouTube has declined to detail which videos it removed, but Guardian Australia discovered at least six videos, five of which promoted hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as a treatment for Covid, which were removed after allegedly violating the tech giant’s policies.
The videos were made by Alan Jones and Outsiders hosts Rowan Dean and Rita Panahi.
In a video, Panahi said that “the leftist media’s disdain for Trump” meant he was “willing to lose lives” due to opposition to hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.
Sky digital editor, Jack Houghton, has reported that videos that questioned the effectiveness of masks and confinements were also attacked.
Markson said the station presented “responsible” information to the public, while US President Joe Biden, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the World Health Organization were the “really guilty of misinformation.”
“[WHO] it is the body guilty of extreme misinformation and yet it is the one who tech giants like YouTube rely on their advice when they decide to censor an entire news network, “he said.
In May 2020, Markson appeared on Carlson to say he had an “explosive dossier” showing that some of the world’s leading intelligence agencies were investigating whether the coronavirus was linked to a laboratory in Wuhan.
Sky News Australia, which has 1.86 million subscribers on YouTube, is still available on Foxtel, Facebook, streaming apps, online at skynews.com.au and on free regional TV, where it launched a new channel on Sunday.
Gelber said the limits to free speech were well recognized philosophically and legally.
“It’s something conservatives once professed to understand,” he said.
“The reason that various countries around the world have developed Covid medical disinformation and disinformation policies is because incorrect information about Covid can cause considerable harm during an international pandemic.
“YouTube is a private organization and therefore can and has developed transparent policies regarding harmful content. There is a global outcry over harmful content on social media, to which social media companies are responding by developing community content and standards. “
Gelber dismissed claims by Sky News that they were broadcasting a legitimate debate.
“We see the broadcast of different expert opinions on the proper way to approach Covid in our news every night. Clearly, this is not that, ”he said.
Guardian Australia found that Sky News recently removed several videos, including Dean in September 2020, saying “jury agrees on hydroxychloroquine, saves lives” and Jones saying there had been “extreme dishonesty” surrounding hydroxychloroquine and that Australians were denied access.
In another deleted video posted in September 2020, then-Liberal MP Craig Kelly stated that “study after study shows that hydroxychloroquine, when given early, can reduce rates of [Covid] infections ”.
A video showing Andrew Bolt talking to Australian gastroenterologist Professor Thomas Borody about the use of ivermectin in treating Covid was also removed.
Guardian Australia sought comments from Sky News and YouTube on the recent removal of the videos.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism