One America News Network (OAN) issued a statement in response after YouTube said on Tuesday it is suspending the outlet from posting new videos or livestreams for a week, after the outlet posted a video that YouTube said violated its policies surrounding COVID-19.
YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said in a statement to media outlets that the video from OAN was removed under YouTube’s policies about COVID-19 misinformation, which prohibits reporting that there is a guaranteed “cure” to the virus. Due to “repeated violations” of the policy, the outlet has been suspended, Choi said.
According to YouTube’s statement, the now-removed OAN video had violated YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation rules by asserting that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, was a “cure” for COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes. YouTube said it has a “three-strikes policy” before an account is removed and this amounted to the first strike for OAN.
OAN’s existing videos will also be demonetized on the video-sharing platform for that period and the news outlet will have to reapply later to be allowed to monetize again, Choi said.
OAN told The Epoch Times late Tuesday that the video was not made “public” on YouTube and was “unlisted” on the platform “for review by internal OAN staff only.”
“This fact was provided by OAN to YouTube. The video is available for viewing at www.oann.com. Although OAN will abide by YouTube’s requirements for any video made available on YouTube, OAN will not let YouTube’s arbitrary rules infringe upon its First Amendment editorial rights to inform the public,” the outlet said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
“It’s our understanding that YouTube only recognizes two authorities for COVID-19, namely the CDC and local county health experts. We believe that the opinions of frontline doctors should also be heard, regardless if their views agree or differ from the CDC,” the statement said. “Highly qualified doctors have more meaningful expertise than YouTube moderators. YouTube requires a warning label if interviewed medical experts deviate from the CDC’s latest thinking, which is, frequently subject to change. To date, OAN has interviewed over fifty medical doctors that have successfully treated in excess of 6,000 COVID patients.”
The outlet added, “Recovered patients have credited administered treatments for saving their lives. OAN has highlighted therapeutics in use, from convalescent plasma to hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that showed anecdotal evidence of success, yet didn’t receive proper study.”
Christina Bobb, a host of the Weekly Briefing show on OAN, said on Twitter late Tuesday, “YouTube banned OAN from posting videos for a week. Communism by Big Tech.”
Earlier this year, YouTube joined Facebook and Twitter in removing videos of a press conference on July 27 by a group of doctors who had spoken in support of hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were approved decades ago for use against ailments including malaria. They were used early during the pandemic in treatment of patients with COVID-19 and doctors around the world asserted that the drug worked against the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals in April that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of a hospital or research settings due to sometimes fatal side effects, including abnormal heart rhythms or a rapid heart rate. In June, the FDA ended the emergency-use authorization for both hydroxychloroquine and the closely-related chloroquine in treating COVID-19.
Jan Jekielek and Reuters contributed to this report.