The COVID-19 vaccine being put into a syringe.

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Conspiracy blog spreads comedy video as proof that NY Times editor died from booster

Here's this week's 'One Dumb Conspiracy' newsletter.

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Posted on Jan 17, 2022   Updated on Jan 17, 2022, 11:43 am CST

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The COVID-19 vaccine being put into a syringe.
Marco Verch Professional Photographer/Flickr (CC-BY)

ONE DUMB CONSPIRACY

Conspiracy blog spreads comedy video as proof that NY Times editor died from booster

Conspiracy theorists believe they have finally found concrete proof that the death of a New York Times editor last month was caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.

But it turns out that the so-called evidence was entirely fabricated.

Carlos Tejada, the deputy Asia editor for the New York Timespassed away on Dec. 17, 2021 due to a heart attack.

Tejada’s death, like so many others, was immediately seized upon by anti-vaxxers despite no evidence that the inoculation had been to blame.

Yet this month, conspiracy theorists uncovered what they were convinced was video of Tejada bragging about receiving the booster shot just hours before his death.

The footage appeared last Monday in an article from the True Defender, a little-known conspiracy blog that regularly carries anti-vax content.

Headlined “NYT Editor Dies Of Heart Attack After Bragging About The Booster,” the article contains footage from a Jan. 8 tweet in which Tejada is alleged to discuss receiving his booster shot.

The individual in the video can be heard defending the booster and mocking anti-vaccine talking points. A still image of a statement made by Tejada’s wife concerning her husband’s death by heart attack is attached to the end of the footage as well.

But the individual in the footage is not Tejada. And the original video does not contain the screenshot from Tejada’s wife either.

The column continues below.


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A comedian reacting to his video being used by anti-vaxxers for a conspiracy theory.
@brittlestar/Twitter

The video actually shows Canadian comedian Stewart Reynolds, who shared the original video to his Twitter account on Dec. 17.

Shortly after the article from the True Defender started going viral, Reynolds responded in a follow-up tweet denouncing the false claim that he was actually Tejada.

“It was brought to my attention today that one of my videos has been edited into an anti-vaccination clip suggesting that I died after my booster shot and that I’m a NYT editor…” Reynolds wrote. “To clarify, and as is plainly evident: I am not a NYT editor.”

The Daily Dot reached out to the True Defender to inquire over whether it was aware that the video it featured did not in fact show Tejada. The True Defender did not immediately respond.

It remains unclear whether the True Defender merely failed to fact-check the tweet or if it purposely promoted what it knew to be a false claim.

The Daily Dot also investigated the article’s author Ava Garcia, an alleged journalist with 7 years of experience in the industry.

The Daily Dot was unable to find any further information on Garcia online.

Even more interesting, Henry Ajder, a synthetic media expert with Metaphysic.ai, told the Daily Dot that he believed the image used for Garcia had been created with artificial intelligence (AI).

Twitter has since responded to the false claim by disabling all retweets and replies on the tweet that shared the falsely attributed video.

Mikael Thalen


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*First Published: Jan 17, 2022, 10:42 am CST