Truthers: Tiffany Dover Is Dead* - podcast

Truthers: Tiffany Dover Is Dead*

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Welcome to one of the internet’s weirdest obsessions. Back in December of 2020, a nurse named Tiffany Dover fainted on camera while she was talking to reporters after getting her first COVID shot. She got right back up and gave another interview, but it was too late. A conspiracy theory was already racing around the world: Dover had died. She’d been replaced by a body double. And an ever-expanding list of conspirators was in on the cover-up, including the drug companies, the hospital, the media, and maybe even the Pope. Tiffany Dover is alive and well, but she’s stayed silent through it all. And now her story has been hijacked by total strangers trying to make people doubt the safety of the COVID vaccine. In this first season of Truthers, a podcast project about misinformation and conspiracy theories, NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny sets out to show what’s true and what isn’t—and how one person’s life became a weapon in a global information war.

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Tiffany Dover Is Alive
9/5 2022

Tiffany Dover Is Alive

Brandy heads back to Chattanooga and Higdon, Alabama, a third time. Knocking on doors has yielded some results – the most promising being word from Tiffany’s sister-in-law, Ashley, that Tiffany does want to talk and is only waiting for some sort of NDA to run out. So, in town again, Brandy leaves a note at a house she thinks belongs to Tiffany’s in-laws, and, while refueling at the local pizza place, receives a totally unexpected text: “I got your letter. I will tell a great story about everything that happened, but only to the one who pays the most. So what are you paying?” The person who sent the text turns out to be a family member she hadn’t interacted with before, a 19-year-old who tells Brandy it was her aunt Debbie, Tiffany’s mother-in-law, who told her to send it. Tracking down Debbie herself gets the best result so far, and, armed with new evidence, Brandy confronts a hard-core Tiffany truther.

The Playbook
2/5 2022

The Playbook

A very strange – and very visual – story of a vaccine injury predates Tiffany Dover by almost 10 years. The woman at the center of it now says she was taken advantage of – by the media, by the anti-vaccination movement, including Jenny McCarthy, and by Dr. Rashid Buttar, who she called a “money hungry, ego-maniac.” This same Dr. Buttar also leapt on Tiffany’s story, using it to advance his idea that the vaccines are deadly. He was following the anti-vaccination movement’s playbook: Seize on a novel story, ride it as far as it’ll go, discard, repeat. There was a panic in the early ‘80s, another in the late ‘90s, and a peak in the mid-2000s. The current push to sow doubt in vaccines is led by people seasoned from those battles, especially Robert F. Kennedy Jr. But something new is happening this time, as those drawn in by Covid, people like tech millionaire Steve Kirsch, produce wrenching videos that don’t need mainstream media airtime to spread. People like the protestors at a January march in Washington D.C. seem more open to the possibility of a dark global plot—and joining the new resistance.

Who Does That?
25/4 2022

Who Does That?

Tiffany Dover isn’t the only person who knows what it’s like to have strangers on the internet take her story, twist the facts, and turn it into a weapon. Last September Amanda Makulec’s youngest son, Zander, died unexpectedly, just shy of three months old. Someone took the tweet where Amanda told her friends and family what had happened and pasted it next to another tweet of hers from two months earlier -- where she had written about her relief at being vaccinated while pregnant. The juxtaposition turned her into an anti-vaxx meme, and her story ended up on TheCovidBlog, a website dedicated to spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation. Brandy visits Amanda and then goes to meet the site's owner, and only author: a 47-year-old Iowa man named Brian Wilkins, who’s written that Tiffany Dover is “one of the early cases that inspired the creation of this blog.” Brian's mission is to lead as many people away from vaccination as possible, relentlessly casting doubt on accepted science. But now, Brandy learns, a committed group of doctors is starting to fight back.