Editorial: The purveyors of misinformation

Our jaws dropped last year when a committee of the Ohio House listened to testimony from a business owner impacted by the pandemic shutdown orders who claimed the public health emergency was a hoax. The witness said — with a straight face — that coroners across the country and all over the world agreed they would mark every cause of death on every death certificate to be COVID-19 related.

It was a conspiracy to harm Donald Trump, the man said, and hospitals, health care facilities and others were all involved in it. We were shocked at the outrageousness of his statement, but nothing prepared us for what came next. There was no challenge at all from the Republican committee chair to the dangerously reckless claim, no correction to it, no concern for truth or accuracy. Lawmakers went along with the pandemic denier’s claim.

It was — and remains — an outrageously dangerous lie that comes from a place of ignorance advantaged by power and position.

… We look to Columbus hoping to be introduced to the adults who are in charge, and every week, it seems, we are disappointed with the lack of accountability, the lack of integrity, the lack of courage and the lack of conviction we see. This is, after all, much the same legislative body that last year was caught in a $61 million bribery scheme related to nuclear power in the state. These are the same lawmakers than dirtied that worthy legislative deed by their greed.

Just last week, YouTube pulled down a video of committee testimony in the Ohio House after a witness provided more inaccurate claims about the pandemic. The platform said the statehouse video violated its community standards against the spread of misinformation. We’re neither endorsing nor not endorsing whether a platform — any platform — should take that kind of step. That’s a topic for another day.

What we do know for sure, however, is that lawmakers need to be held to account for misinformation if they spread it, or condone it, and right now that’s not happening. They are purveyors of misinformation. If we see a leader inside the statehouse, we’ll be sure to let you know. But there’s none there now.

Ohioans need to be very concerned about the functionality and the integrity of the state’s legislative branch. It’s broken.

— Sandusky Register, March 3