ICYMI: While Scott Jensen Denies He’s “Anti-Vax,” Evidence Shows Otherwise
“Scott Jensen spread COVID conspiracy theories, and has appeared with top anti-vaccine activists many times”
Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, a “doctor” and a Minnesota GOP candidate for governor continues to deny that he’s anti-vaccine, even as he pushes dangerous and disproven conspiracy theories about COVID-19.
New reporting details how Scott Jensen continues to play a major role in furthering harmful misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Jensen was featured in the viral conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” and included as a source in PolitiFact’s 2020 “Lie of the Year.” Jensen has also partnered with anti-vax activists to advocate for disproven treatments for COVID, and his claims have been cited by leading conspiracy theorists, including from InfoWars and Donald Trump.
Jensen also continues to falsely claim that children and teens have a “0% statistical chance of dying” from the pandemic despite the CDC estimating 335 Americans under 17 have died.
As COVID-19 cases rise across the country, the vast majority of them among unvaccinated Americans, the misinformation that Jensen is spreading is contributing to anti-vax sentiment, which in turn is leading to needless deaths — regardless of whether or not Jensen cares to label himself as an “anti-vaxxer.”
Jensen has admitted himself that his “anti-vax-curious” sentiment will shadow his campaign for governor, saying, “I think for me the question is going to be: ‘Was I on point? Was I rational? Was I a COVID denier? Did I intentionally phone in conspiracy theories?’” While it looks like Jensen is still undecided on those questions — his mounting false and dangerous conspiracy theories seem to provide clear answers.
See below for key excerpts from the laundry list of Scott Jensen’s, “anti-vax-adjacent” claims:
Salon: GOP doctor running for Minnesota governor denies he’s an anti-vaxxer — he’s just anti-vax-curious
Minnesota physician who was banned by TikTok and investigated by medical authorities for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 is now running for governor. While Scott Jensen denies he’s an anti-vax candidate, he’s definitely an anti-vax-adjacent candidate
Jensen, a Republican who served four years in the Minnesota state Senate, launched a gubernatorial bid this spring after drawing headlines throughout the pandemic for stoking false claims about the virus. He was featured in the viral conspiracy-theory video “Plandemic” and cited by PolitiFact cited as a key source for its 2020 “Lie of the Year.” That referred to a Fox News appearance when Jensen supported the false allegation that doctors were overcounting COVID cases for financial benefit. Medical experts have in fact argued the exact opposite, that cases have consistently been undercounted.
Jensen’s baseless claim was promoted on the conspiracy theory clearinghouse Infowars and later used by former President Donald Trump on the campaign trail to downplay the pandemic death toll. Jensen came under investigation by the Minnesota State Board of Medical Practice last year for spreading the claim, although the complaint challenging his medical license was ultimately dismissed.
Jensen told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he had “no regrets” over his comments and touted his “inflated numbers” claim in announcing his gubernatorial campaign, vowing to “continue to search for truth and expose the facts surrounding COVID-19.”
More recently, Jensen has partnered with anti-vaccine activists to stoke fears about coronavirus vaccines. In May, he joined Dr. Simone Gold, an anti-vaccine activist who founded the pro-hydroxychloroquine, anti-mask group America’s Frontline Doctors — and who was arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — in a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services seeking to prevent kids under 16 from being vaccinated. The lawsuit cited Jensen’s false claim that COVID poses a “0%” risk of death to children. Although in statistical terms the risk to children is low, hundreds of children and teens have died and thousands have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jensen himself has refused to be vaccinated, saying it’s unnecessary because he was already infected with COVID. In fact, the CDC has urged those who have recovered from COVID to be vaccinated because it’s not clear how long natural immunity lasts. Jensen has defended the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine — which was vigorously promoted by Donald Trump as president — as a COVID treatment despite FDA warnings that data suggests the drug has “no benefit” to patients and could cause serious heart, kidney and liver issues. More recently, Jensen has promoted ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that the FDA warns is not an antiviral and could cause “serious harm” to COVID patients. A large study cited by many conservatives to back its use was retracted last week due to “ethical concerns” after researchers discovered data discrepancies.
Jensen’s claims casting doubt on federal health agencies and the national COVID response have made him a star in right-wing media circles and has earned him frequent appearances on Fox News and other conservative outlets. Jensen has used his higher profile to build up a large social media following, becoming “one of the nation’s most-followed politicians on TikTok,” according to Axios, before he was banned from the app in April for violating its COVID misinformation policies.
Jensen has also amassed more than 290,000 followers on Facebook, which President Joe Biden recently blamed for “killing people” by failing to crack down on misinformation about the pandemic. Jensen’s Facebook rants against Dr. Anthony Fauci and videos criticizing the federal response frequently go viral and are swamped with comments calling for Fauci’s arrest, falsely claiming “there was no pandemic,” baselessly alleging that the vaccine is “more dangerous than the virus” and pushing conspiracy theories comparing mass vaccination to “Holocaust experiments.”
Despite repeatedly appearing alongside some of the most prominent anti-vaccine activists in the world, Jensen has repeatedly denied being an anti-vaxxer. He told the Star-Tribune in May that he wants vaccines for children paused “so that the status quo can be maintained until we have a chance to have a broader, more robust discussion.” But he has continued to claim on social media that teens and children have a “0% statistical chance of dying” from the pandemic even though at least 335 Americans under 17 have died, according to the CDC, and some children infected have had long COVID symptoms lasting for months.
Jensen called Democrats who accuse him of spreading conspiracy theories “desperate” but has said he knows his comments will continue to shadow his campaign.
“I think for me the question is going to be: ‘Was I on point? Was I rational? Was I a COVID denier? Did I intentionally phone in conspiracy theories?'” he told the Star-Tribune. “I think it’ll hang around. But I think it is going to be far enough away that Minnesotans are going to demand a stronger focus on public safety and what are we doing for our kids.”