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YouTube and Google block Sumner County couples’ anti-vax media empire

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - You won't find their videos on YouTube. Instead, you'll find their names on Google but no links to their website or media content.

Ty and Charlene Bollinger's anti-vaccine empire has created such widespread criticism, accused of making millions off vaccine disinformation, that major media platforms have blocked their content.

"It's almost every social media account as well. We've been flagged, shut down. Deplatformed. They take us off and put us up again," said Ty Bollinger, standing on the front porch of his Sumner County home.

It's the first time Bollinger has agreed to speak with a reporter, knowing even the grandeur of their home has been scrutinized.

"Are you making millions?" asked News4 Investigates.

"Yeah, we're very blessed to have this home. Are you talking about gross revenues or profits?" Bollinger said.

Bollinger knows a thing or two about money, as he's trained as a CPA. He said he and his wife bought the home, with its six stately columns and a sweeping stairwell inside. That came before they began making videos, writing books, and providing online content that question the safety of vaccines.

When pressed about exactly how much they've made, Bollinger confirmed they'd made millions. Still, they also have spent millions on production and paying staff.

Bollinger made the switch from CPA work when he lost his father and other family members to cancer. He said he began to investigate non-traditional forms of medicine, leading to his belief that vaccines are, essentially, dangerous.

After writing a book on the subject he intended to hand out for free, he soon learned people were willing to pay for the content he was generating. That is until the online shutdown began.

"It really hurt our business. We have people who work for us. There are times we had to pay out of our own pocket," Bollinger said.

But critics of the Bollingers claim their business is based on lies about the very vaccines designed to save people's lives.

"The Bollingers are some of the most serious producers of anti-vax information," said Imran Ahmed, whose organization, Center for Countering Digital Hate. He has identified the couple as one of the foremost proponents in the nation of spreading vaccine information.

"You think this is all about making money?" asked News4 Investigates.

"This is all about making money," Ahmed said.

But Dorit Reiss isn't so sure, the professor from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, who specializes in vaccine policy, has been following the Bollingers' rise since they began making videos raising questions about cancer treatment.

Reiss said the Bollingers believe in the content that they're producing is true, making them even more dangerous to public health.

"These people come in and scare the people from protecting themselves against the virus," Reiss said.

News4 Investigates obtained copies of the Bollingers' videos, which are stylishly produced and feature interviews with other anti-vaccine proponents.

Depending on the purchase price, buying the videos can cost up to $499.

In one video, Ty Bollinger raises questions about the makeup of certain vaccines, concluding, "It's probably going to cause brain damage."

Bollinger also states government conspiracies about vaccines, stating, "(The) CDC knew it caused autism and buried the data." While Bollinger said he has never told his viewers and readers not to take vaccines, he said his intent is to warn them.

"We're for freedom. To choose whatever you want to do. We just feel like people should be educated before they make the choice," Bollinger said.

"There are people who say what you're doing is dangerous. You're costing people their lives. By feeding them fake information," asked News4 Investigates.

"We're Christians. We love people. Claiming that we're dangerous - it makes me laugh," said Bollinger.

Bollinger bristles at the notion that he's made a fortune profiting from disinformation or misinformation about vaccines.

"We've not made a penny of misinformation. Because I don't believe anything we've spread is misinformation," Bollinger said. "The main claim that we've built a business on disinformation. We have a business. And the last time I checked, it wasn't a crime to have a successful business."

"You said it isn't a crime. But there are people who are saying what you're doing is dangerous. What you're doing is actually costing people their lives. Because they're buying into this, and they're not getting vaccinated, and they're dying," asked News4 Investigates.

"When they say we're dying because of their disinfo, I'd say, again, we haven't spread any disinfo," Bollinger said.

On January 6, the Bollingers' brought their message to the U.S. Capitol, holding a rally before the rioting began.

"That covid vax is a nightmare," Charlene Bollinger said on the stage. "This mask business is insanity."

Charlene Bollinger introduced fellow anti-vaccine proponents at the rally. She told the crowd to support former President Donald Trump. She pointed out that her husband at the time was standing with other patriots.

Ty Bollinger said he left before the gathering turned into a riot, citing a prior commitment to do a radio show.

In October, they will hold a conference in Nashville, inviting some of the top anti-vaccine proponents, including Robert F. Kennedy, to the city.

Bollinger said the dangers of the vaccine for COVID-19 is based on facts from government data.

"When it comes to the coronavirus vaccine, none of them have been approved by the FDA. They've been authorized by the FDA for emergency use. But they've not been approved. That's not misinfo. That's the truth," Bollinger said.

But critics said it's that type of claim that confuses people into believing something that is false.

Bollinger is correct that the vaccine is not approved by the FDA, but it is also correct that it is authorized by the FDA for emergency use.

A spokeswoman for the FDA wrote to News4 Investigates that the COVID-19 vaccines are "authorized for emergency use only when the FDA determines that they meet our robust expectations for safety and effectiveness."

"None of (critics) can name any of the things that we said that are mis info. It's not my info. It's facts," Bollinger said.

"I think they would disagree with you on that. They would say is what we have are the facts - and what you are doing is twisting the facts," asked News4 Investigates.

"You're missing my point here. All I'm talking about is what I just told you," Bollinger said. "No, it's not our side. It's just the facts."

Bollinger said he is aware of the scrutiny he faces, citing the death threats lodged against him and his family.

"People are saying our children should be killed. And they should come to our house, and we should all be shot. Or hanged. And we don't wish that on the people who disagreed with. Why is there so much hate towards us," he asked.

You can watch the entire unedited interview with Ty Bollinger here:

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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