Albanian broadcasters are happy to welcome anti-axxer conspiracy theorists

A graduate in economics, Cako previously worked as an auditor at the Supreme State Control Office of Albania and owned a small publishing house called “Helga’s Secrets”, specializing in conspiracy literature. In 2015, he unsuccessfully ran for parliament on behalf of the New Democratic Spirit Party. Reached by phone, Cako told BIRN he was “too busy” to speak.

But he speaks. According to Facebook data analyzed via Crowdtangle, as of August this year, of some 49,000 posts from 89 broadcast media, newspapers and web portals on the topic of immunization, the most popular came from a talk show. titled “360 gradë” on Ora News and featured Cako discusses allegations of a link between COVID-19 vaccines and a supposedly secret society called the “Illuminati.”

“The vaccine is an Illuminati project,” he said. “The vaccine is a 3mm microchip that will save all of our data on an Illuminati company computer.”

Posted on Ora News TV’s Facebook page on May 1 of last year, the video has been viewed more than 477,000 times, generating 6,871 interactions, including comments, likes and other ’emoji’.

Cako is a “free man,” said Elvin Luku, professor in the journalism department at the University of Tirana. The problem is those who give it airtime.

“I see a problem here with the directors of television shows, who, although they are aware of his beliefs, provide him with airtime in an effort to attract the largest possible audience,” Luku said. at BIRN.

He said he was “astonished” that WADA had not responded. “On the one hand, we have seen the space offered to this actor and this has consequences for the vaccination campaign,” he said, “while on the other, public institutions are spending money. public money for costly awareness campaigns. “

Luku, however, said the AMA might be limited by the fact that Cako’s appearances are limited to talk shows rather than news reports.

“If such information had been broadcast in a sustained manner during the news, it certainly would have been a violation of the Code of Conduct, but the talk shows consist of more relaxed discussions and the guests are not necessarily experts, so a WADA’s intervention is questionable, ”he said.

“However, I believe that since these vaccine conspiracy theories are being made repeatedly, every week, on national television, in this case there is cause for WADA to intervene.”

Canameti said that the conduct of broadcasters, “for commercial reasons,” undermined efforts by public bodies and civil society to educate and inform Albanians about the COVID-19 vaccination, telling BIRN: “More the public is large, the more people there are at risk ”.

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