While many have been mourning the recent passing of acting and comedic legend Betty White, take a wild guess as to what some anti-vaccination social media accounts have been doing. They’ve been perpetuating rumors that she somehow died after getting a Covid-19 vaccine booster. This has included circulating a picture of White supposedly stating, “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today,” on December 28. That would have been three days before White passed, just 17 days short of her 100th birthday.
However, there’s one big, ginormous hole in such assertions.
“Betty never had a booster shot,” White’s friend and agent Jeff Witjas wrote in an email to me on Tuesday. So who are you going to believe? Someone who actually knew White who has made it clear that she did not get a booster shot? Or some anonymous social media account that slapped a random picture on its profile?
What’s that? You may actually believe what the anonymous social media account says? Is that your final answer? Do you want to phone an anonymous social media account friend?
Looks like someone might have manufactured the “I got boosted today” quote and pasted White’s picture next to it. Gee, how low can some people sink? Well, an anonymous Twitter account tweeted that White getting the booster “stopped her from enjoying her 100 year old birthday. Sad. The only thing boosters do is kill people:”
Sad, indeed. Claiming that “the only thing boosters do is kill people?” Seriously? Over 71 million people in the U.S. have already gotten their Covid-19 boosters. Don’t you think you would have heard something more if all boosters did was “kill people?”
Speaking of hearing something, the following tweet used “per her physician” without providing the name of the physician or any verifiable source:
Might as well say “per a robot” or “per a talking squirrel.”
Then there were tweets like the following that mentioned “seeing rumors” and then basically further disseminated them:
Remember those people in high school or who act like they are still in high school and say, “oh I just heard this awful rumor” about such and such and then emphasize, “I can’t believe such a rumor is going around.”
It’s just flat out awful to exploit someone’s death to make unfounded claims or share such claims simply for a political agenda. It’s doubly awful when the agenda may in turn hurt many other people, as actress Angela Belcamino alluded to here:
Something is really wrong when you can’t rely on facts and real evidence to try to make your point and instead have to spread unverified claims and rumors as such anti-vaxxers have continued to do.
Witjas has said that White passed away “peacefully in her sleep” at her Brentwood home. That sadly brought to a close an entertainment career that spanned seven decades. White delighted viewers with her roles on various game shows, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland, Saturday Night Live, and numerous other TV shows. She’s played very meaningful roles beyond the screen as well. For example, in 1954, she resisted racist pressure on her to remove Arthur Duncan, a Black tap dancer, from her variety show. Instead, she responded with “I’m sorry. Live with it,” giving Duncan even more airtime. She also had been a longtime supporter and advocate of LGBT rights. Those are just some of the roles that White’s fans probably want her legacy to be. And not some role that anti-vaxxers are now trying to force upon her.