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Public Figures and Fringe Media: A Note on Martin Kulldorff and the Richie Allen Show

From the Guardian:

Anti-lockdown advocate appears on radio show that has featured Holocaust deniers

Dr Martin Kulldorff discussed ‘Great Barrington declaration’ letter on Richie Allen Show

…When asked by the Guardian about his appearance on the show, Kulldorff said: “As a public health professional, it is critically important to reach all segments of the population.

“I have appeared in both right (eg the Spectator) and left media (eg Jacobin) … Regarding the Richie Allen Show, I had never heard of it before they invited me.”

Kulldorff is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatistician and epidemiologist. The article notes that the show has previously featured the Holocaust deniers Nick Kollerstrom and Alison Chabloz, as well as “longstanding conspiracy theorists Dr Vernon Coleman and Piers Corbyn” – Allen, a protégé of David Icke, called Kollerstrom an “old friend”. The story has also been picked by the Jewish Chronicle.

The headline, it seems to me, unfairly gives the impression of some sort of affinity between Kulldorff and extremism, when I think we can take him at his word that he knew nothing about Richie Allen when he agreed to talk to him.

At the same time, though, it is a strategy of bad actors involved with alternative media and the conspiracy milieu to elicit content from more mainstream figures as a way to boost their own reach and credibility. When this happens, it is appropriate to ask the guest contributor to clarify their association and where exactly they stand. Appearing on the Richie Allen Show ought to be a reputational risk for anyone who wants to be taken seriously in public life.

Previous guests on the Richie Allen Show with reputations beyond the conspiracy milieu include Michael Mansfield, Ann Widdecombe and Maggie Oliver. Oliver in particular is much lauded as “the Rochdale whistleblower”, yet she frequently accepts interview requests from bad actors, whose sites she then amplifies on social media. Yet there seems to be less appetite for criticising “the angel of the North” than for going after a lockdown sceptic. (1)

Note

1. The “Great Barrington Declaration” is a creation of the American Institute for Economic Research, which is based in Great Barrington in Massachusetts. It claims to have the support of a large number of medical experts, although it has transpired that anyone can sign the document online without having their identity or credentials checked. When a journalist named Nafeez Ahmed demonstrated how easily a false name can be added, the AIER’s Editorial Director Jeffrey Tucker accused him of having “urged his followers to commit fraud and impersonate medical doctors and scientists”.