How Margaret Cuomo and Huffington Post Mislead Public On Vaping
The vaping misinformation campaign is continuing to gain steam in the media. Now it’s getting help from a celebrity doctor with political ties and a mainstream media website.
Margaret Cuomo, a radiologist and the author of the book A World Without Cancer, appeared last week in a Huffington Post Rise video warning the public of the so-called dangers of vaping. In it, she makes claims that have long been dispelled by actual scientific research, garnering much-deserved criticism from not only vaping advocates but scientists and doctors.
For those who may not be aware, Margaret Cuomo is the sister of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has made headlines in the vaping industry for his efforts to restrict vaping in public areas in his state, along with rumors of proposing that vape products be classified in the same category as tobacco. Her other brother, Chris Cuomo, works as an anchor at CNN, while her father is former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
An article posted by Forbes this week examined the claims Cuomo made and the inadequate efforts made by Huffington Post staff in order to correct it for their viewers. The video in its entirety was called into question, with many in the vaping community speculating that the inaccurate information and the clumsy attempts to edit the video in the past week were an intentional attempt to mislead the public on vaping.
Cuomo, a licensed medical professional, made a few outrageous statements in the video, including one where she states that “e-cigarettes will raise your risk of lung cancer but also other cancers, like liver cancer.” This claim has been utterly discredited by professor Michael Siegel, who works in the public health department at Boston University. Cuomo later retracted this claim after The Daily Caller confronted her about it.
“E-cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals that tobacco cigarettes do not contain such as formaldehyde, benzene, propylene glycol, and metals like cadmium, nickel, and tin,” Cuomo said, as reported by The Libertarian Republic. This claim was recently laid to rest as myth by a few studies, both done in the US and the UK. And, as a radiologist who researches cancer, Cuomo is definitely aware that tobacco cigarettes contain all but one of the above-mentioned chemicals.
But perhaps more disturbing than the fact that a doctor could go on record with false statements like these is the fact that Huffington Post made no attempts to fact-check Cuomo before posting the video. Also disturbing is the half-hearted attempt to edit the video, all while refusing to accurately correct the information on their website.
The video was taken down and put back up several times since it was first posted last week, with awkward editing scrapping many of Cuomo’s claims. The site even links to two different versions of the video, each with different headlines.
And nowhere on Huffington Post is there an explanation of the various edits or even an acknowledgment that the video had to be edited several times due to a lack of fact-checking on the site’s part. The video just appears under a headline that even sounds ominous: “Why E-Cigarettes Are Dangerous To Your Health.”
This is a two-fold concern for the vaping industry, and one that needs to be taken seriously — a celebrity doctor, one who is associated with cancer research, publicly stated that vaping is as bad for you as smoking. Having a media personality say that with confidence, especially one with political ties, cuts through scientific fact because people believe what they see on the news.
Which leads us to the second part of the problem — the media. When sites like Huffington Post can be allowed to post videos such as this one, then edit it without any explanation, it calls into question the veracity of that media company. And getting away with this only strengthens sites like this one to continue to do it, because they haven’t been forced to actually report the news.
Big Tobacco is behind this campaign to stop vaping, but it has allies, both in the media and those with political ties. This is why staying informed and demanding the truth is important, especially when it comes to the facts about vaping. Remember that the next time you see a mainstream story about vaping, and research the facts for yourself. You can’t trust everything you see in the media.