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BBC antivax fury ERUPTS: Broadcaster dragged into Novak Djokovic row

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THE BBC has been accused of inadvertently running “the world’s largest coordinated anti-vaccination campaign”, all revolving around an exclusive interview with tennis star Novak Djokovic.

Mr Djokovic’s refusal to get a Covid vaccine made frequent headlines earlier this year, as the tennis star was refused entry to Australia twice – preventing him from playing in the Australian Open. Freelance consultant Dan Barker, whose website lists years of experience working in areas of ecommerce, digital marketing, analytics and customer research, claimed to expose an anti-vaccination campaign by the BBC for their recent reporting on the Djokovic controversy.

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Speaking via Twitter yesterday, Mr Barker stated: “The BBC has now run a day-long anti vaccination campaign.

“Possibly the most-viewed co-ordinated anti vaccination campaign in the world so far. It centred around Novak Djokovic.”

His Twitter thread went on to explain why he believes the BBC intentionally promoted the Djokovic story to the head of the news list in order to promote an anti-vaccination agenda.

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He stated: “They got an ‘exclusive interview’ with Novak Djokovic, the #1 ranked men’s tennis player, and the only man in the top 100 who has not taken a covid vaccine.

“Everyone who pays attention to tennis knows his stance, but he quickly falls out of the news outside of major tournaments.”

Mr Barker added that the BBC then filled their morning news program with “ads for the interview, running snippets from it continuously”.

He argued that the BBC presented the story as though it was a world news story, displacing other headlines like updates on the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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“Simultaneously,” Mr Barker said, “they ran the story as the main article on the biggest news website in the world”, and didn’t simply run it as a regular article, “but also adding several secondary articles, and a timeline of updates on a non-breaking news story”.

Despite the heavy coverage, the story didn’t remain at the top for a long time, and dropped quickly down to the third most read article on BBC news.

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He claimed that this was evidence that the Djokovic controversy was not “naturally” a big story – but instead, the BBC “prompted” people to read about it.

Barker then went on to explain that staff put out posts on social media, running as more promo for the interview, which was led by Amol Rajan.

Barker claimed that Mr Rajan “is being pushed as a sort of next Piers Morgan – an editor/celeb interviewer who ideally becomes a celeb themselves”

The consultant explained, “If you’ve ever done much campaign marketing, you will know that trying to establish an idea requires a few things: 1) A message 2) Proof points to make that message convincing 3) Distribution, to create awareness 4) Reinforcement”.

He said that the BBC’s “co-ordinated campaign contains all 4.

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“And so that’s how the BBC ran the world’s largest coordinated anti vaccination campaign.

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Despite these statements, however, Mr Barker went on to say: “I’m not saying that the BBC intended it to be an anti vax campaign (I very much doubt that), or that it will be successful. I am simply saying that is what – in effect – it is.”

Djokovic is the perfect candidate for an anti-vaccination message, claimed Mr Barker, because the tennis star is “living proof” that you can catch Covid without the vaccine and still be healthy.

Mr Barker said: “He does not represent the masses, he is way beyond the norm, but he is the perfect person to point to and say ‘well he isn’t vaccinated’.

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“The main negative consequence he has suffered cannot apply to anyone else, and the BBC paints his stance as ‘determination’.”

The BBC responded to Mr Barker’s theory, stating: “The BBC’s exclusive interview is the first time Novak Djokovic has spoken about his position himself, following significant interest in his story from audiences around the globe.

“This is a story which encompasses key issues such as mandatory vaccination and international travel restrictions. The BBC has always made clear the scientific and medical consensus on vaccination and its effectiveness and we have done so throughout our coverage of this story.

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“There are still many people who choose not to be vaccinated and we think it is important to hear from all sides of the discussion.”