“YouTube took the extreme action of censoring a national cable news network for a video that was ‘unlisted’ and not available publicly on YouTube. OAN has been flooded with comments from viewers thanking OAN for its reporting and encouraging us not to be intimidated by Google,” OAN President Charles Herring said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
“Although OAN will abide by YouTube’s requirements for any video made available on YouTube, OAN will not let YouTube’s arbitrary rules infringe upon its First Amendment editorial rights to inform the public.”
YouTube did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for response over OAN’s statement that the status of the video in question was “unlisted.”
YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said in a statement to The Epoch Times that the video from OAN was removed under YouTube’s policies about COVID-19 misinformation, which prohibits reporting that there is a guaranteed “cure” to the virus. Due to “repeated violations” of the policy and other channel monetization policies, the outlet has been suspended from posting new videos or livestreams for a week.
“Since early in this pandemic, we’ve worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with COVID-19 on YouTube. After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” the statement read.
“Additionally, due to repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy and other channel monetization policies, we’ve suspended the channel from the YouTube Partner Program and as a result, its monetization on YouTube.”
According to YouTube’s statement, the now-removed OAN video had violated YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation rules by asserting that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, was a “cure” for COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes, Reuters reported. YouTube said it has a “three-strikes policy” before an account is removed and this amounted to the first strike for OAN.
The OAN president told The Epoch Times late Tuesday that the video was not made public on YouTube and was unlisted on the platform “for review by internal OAN staff only.”
“This fact was provided by OAN to YouTube. The video is available for viewing at www.oann.com,” Herring told The Epoch Times.
“It’s our understanding that YouTube only recognizes two authorities for COVID-19, namely the CDC and local county health experts. We believe that the opinions of frontline doctors should also be heard, regardless if their views agree or differ from the CDC,” the OAN statement read. “Highly qualified doctors have more meaningful expertise than YouTube moderators. YouTube requires a warning label if interviewed medical experts deviate from the CDC’s latest thinking, which is, frequently subject to change. To date, OAN has interviewed over fifty medical doctors that have successfully treated in excess of 6,000 COVID patients.”
“Recovered patients have credited administered treatments for saving their lives. OAN has highlighted therapeutics in use, from convalescent plasma to hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that showed anecdotal evidence of success, yet didn’t receive proper study.”
Christina Bobb, a host of the Weekly Briefing show on OAN, said on Twitter late Tuesday, “YouTube banned OAN from posting videos for a week. Communism by Big Tech.”
Earlier this year, YouTube joined Facebook and Twitter in removing videos of a press conference on July 27 by a group of doctors who had spoken in support of hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were approved decades ago for use against ailments including autoimmune diseases and malaria. The drug was used early during the pandemic in treatment of patients with COVID-19 and doctors around the world asserted that it, combined with other drugs and supplements, worked against the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals in April that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of a hospital or research settings due to sometimes fatal side effects, including abnormal heart rhythms or a rapid heart rate. In June, the FDA ended the emergency-use authorization for both hydroxychloroquine and the closely-related chloroquine in treating COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) back in April removed several paragraphs of information about hydroxychloroquine from its website, including recommended dosing information. Prior to the information removal, the CDC said that hydroxychloroquine was being used in hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
“Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally different hydroxychloroquine dosing such as: 400mg BID on day one, then daily for 5 days; 400 mg BID on day one, then 200mg BID for 4 days; 600 mg BID on day one, then 400mg daily on days 2-5,” the CDC website once stated.
Jan Jekielek and Reuters contributed to this report.