Fact Check: Trevor Noah Did NOT Discourage Mask-Wearing Or COVID-19 Vaccinations

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Trevor Noah Did NOT Discourage Mask-Wearing Or COVID-19 Vaccinations Just The CDC

Did Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," express anti-mask and anti-COVID-19 vaccine opinions during a segment of his show? No, that's not true: Noah was expressing his discontent with changes in the message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not with masks or vaccines.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video posted on May 9, 2021, (archived here). The video featured clips from a segment of Noah's April 27, 2021, show. The video is captioned "Trevor Noah is based?" and began with Noah stating:

First, they said masks make us less safe, 'Oh don't wear a mask.' Then they said masks make us more safe. And now, according to this new chart, masks can make you not safe again?

Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Rationalizing Opinions βš–οΈ on TikTok

Well, well, well... #FriendlyFuture #trump #biden #fyp #america #blacklivesmatter #covidvaccine #coronavirus #trevornoah

The chart Noah referred to in the clip is from the CDC's website listing its interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people, last updated at the end of April 2021. A screenshot of the chart is below:

cdc mask guidelines.PNG

(Source: CDC screenshot taken on Tue May 11 17:37:50 UTC)

Throughout the material excerpted for the TikTok video, the comedian made several comments about the back-and-forth messaging from the CDC, calling the aforementioned chart "trash." However, he never directly criticized mask-wearing or vaccinations. Even the final clip featured in the video is only directed toward the CDC and its messaging. Noah stated:

Guys, what the hell? The s**t you're saying to people is incoherent. You're telling us these new vaccines are 95% effective and will stop coronavirus but we still can't do anything without a mask on anyway? Which is it? Is this one of the most effective vaccines in the history of the world or does it not work?

Viewed in its entirety, the segment of Noah's show provides more context to his rant. He prefaced all of the clips included in the TikTok video by acknowledging that he would be explicitly going on a rant about communications from the CDC (at the 3 minute, 9 seconds mark):

So look man, I'm excited that life is slowly getting back to normal but what doesn't excite me is the messaging from the CDC. In fact, it's made me so mad that the only way I can express myself is in a viral rant.

Additionally, the TikTok video suggesting Noah is anti-mask did not include the section at the 5 minute, 33 second mark when he made clear he was critiquing the messages and not the science:

And yes, I know the CDC is just trying to cover all the bases because maybe there's a tiny chance you could get corona even if you're vaccinated. But if that messaging ends up convincing people that there's not much of a reason to get vaccinated at all, then we're shooting ourselves in the foot, which is not something we should do.

That statement was not included as a clip in the TikTok video.

A rejection of masks and vaccines would be inconsistent with what Noah has said in the past. He has criticized those who have not worn masks during the COVID-19 pandemic and has highlighted the importance of COVID-19 vaccine accessibility for all Americans. During a segment of his May 3, 2021, show, he discussed at 1 minute, 24 seconds, his disappointment that the U.S. may not reach herd immunity because people are failing to get vaccinated:

And let me just say this, if you can get vaccinated but you haven't yet, well this should be all the incentive you need. Because you don't want to be getting corona 10 years from now. I mean think about it: not only could you die but you'll be getting roasted for being out of date.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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