For nearly a year now, the State of Alaska – aided by the Anchorage Daily News and the rest of Alaska’s mainstream press corps – has sounded the daily alarm on COVID case counts, death totals, infection rates, hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, ventilator availability, total tests given, and vaccines administered. Dozens of charts and graphs include regional, time specific and age-related factoids. At first glance it might appear as if no data point is left unturned, and yet there are several glaring omissions.

On Feb. 2, the Watchman published a report to help fill out the record. Using data straight from the CDC’s own VAERS reporting system we noted that at least five Alaskans died shortly after receiving the COVID vaccine, and 111 Alaskans suffered adverse reactions after getting the shot between December and January. Our story provided direct links to every statement.  While we noted that the deaths and adverse reactions occurred shortly after Alaskans received the vaccine, we did not take the next step and conclude that there was a direct relation. We don’t know this for certain, so we didn’t say.

In reading the ADN piece, you will see that they do not – and cannot – discredit any of the actual facts.

Our goal was simple. Provide relevant, factual information to Alaskans which the state and mainstream media simply refuse to report.

Well, the Anchorage Daily News and state health officials took issue with the article. One day after the story went up, longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander wanted to interview us about it. We declined, knowing full well that the point of the article was to try to discredit our report. Better to let the facts speak for themselves.

Now that the ADN story is out, we have a few comments to add.

In reading the ADN piece, you will see that they do not – and cannot – discredit any of the actual facts taken from the CDC’s reporting system. Instead, they proceed to interview a handful of state health officials in an attempt to discredit or reinterpret the information from the CDC’s reporting site. The goal is to paint a narrative in which no Alaskan – in fact no American – has ever died as a result of getting the COVID vaccine, and very few have ever experienced serious side effects. The clunky, three sentence title of ADN’s article says it all – “Did 5 people really die from COVID-19 vaccines in Alaska? No, state officials say. None did.”

Let’s unpack exactly how this story was crafted.

First, they insinuate that the Watchman article drew a conclusive link between deaths and the vaccine. We did not.

Why is the state so adamantly opposed to even entertaining the idea that anyone has ever died because of the vaccine?

They then quoted state health officials who explained that just because someone dies or physically suffers after being vaccinated, that does not mean the death or reaction was necessarily a result of the vaccine. People die all the time, of myriad causes, and there is no way to conclusively show that the vaccine killed them, officials explained. This is true, and we noted this in the article.

The problem, however, is that this point about causation is only ever made when someone dies or suffers after getting vaccinated. If someone dies with COVID in their system, well, their death certificate lists COVID as one of the causes of death. Did they really die of COVID though? Could the death have been the result of diabetes, or cancer or high blood pressure? Why is the state so quick to put COVID on a death certificate, while adamantly opposed to even entertaining the idea that anyone has ever died because of the vaccine?

An illustration might help. Imagine two elderly men with high blood pressure climbing two separate step ladders to change a light bulb. One man has COVID in his system. The other was recently vaccinated. Both men fall from their ladders, are rushed to the hospital and die. The man with COVID is listed both as a COVID patient and a COVID death. The vaccinated man, however, is said to have died from injuries after falling from a ladder.

The double standard is beyond the pale, and yet this is illustrative of how the state and mainstream media outlets approach COVID vaccine reactions. The Watchman has repeatedly asked the state to provide information on deaths, adverse reactions and hospitalizations from those who have been vaccinated. So far, they have flat out refused, claiming that such information might lead the general public into thinking that the vaccine is unsafe or too risky. It might, but if the goal is to provide facts in a neutral and unbiased manner, wouldn’t the state – and the mainstream media – be eager to offer all the data?

The truth is we cannot know if a death is primarily the result of the virus or some other underlying health condition. Likewise, we cannot determine with absolute certainty why a person died or suffered physically after receiving the vaccine. Causality is nearly impossible to prove beyond all doubt.

But if the state is going to go to great lengths to encourage every qualified resident to get vaccinated, while spending enormous time and energy to provide certain facts about COVID deaths, then it should also include information about those who have died or suffered after getting vaccinated.

We fully stand behind our article and remain committed to reporting what the mainstream media won’t – except of course when they’re attempting to discredit our work.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

ADN’s attempt to rebut Watchman COVID story illustrates why we exist

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.