Court docs expose ‘censorship enterprise’ between Biden admin and Big Tech

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


More than 50 Biden administration officials across dozens of federal agencies have engaged in efforts to pressure Big Tech companies to censor alleged misinformation, according to documents released on Aug. 31.

The documents were released by the government in a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri against the Biden administration over COVID-19 censorship which was later joined by medical experts and Great Barrington Declaration authors who were publicly maligned by federal officials.

According to an Epoch Times report, senior government officials, including White House lawyer Dana Remus, deputy assistant to the president Rob Flaherty, and former White House senior COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt, contacted one or more major social media companies at least as early as Feb. 2021 to pressure them to crack down on alleged COVID-19 “misinformation” and punish users who violate the rules.

In one example, a Meta executive reached out to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a July 19, 2021 email indicating that government officials and Meta employees held a meeting following a speech in which Biden said Facebook was “killing people” by failing to prevent the spread of misinformation. The executive advised Murthy that the meeting was arranged “to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.”

The same executive later wrote to Murthy saying, “I wanted to make sure you saw the steps we took just this past week to adjust policies on what we are removing with respect to misinformation, as well as steps taken to further address the ‘disinfo dozen,’” including the removal of pages linked to the group.

Murthy publicly pressured social media companies to take action against the “disinformation dozen,” a moniker used by White House officials to refer to a group of individuals and/or organizations the administration identified as trying to disseminate “anti-vaccine misinformation.” 

The Epoch Times also said documents show that in April of 2021, Flaherty, Director of Digital Strategy for the White House, told Slavitt and others that White House staff would be briefed by Twitter “on vaccine misinfo” and discuss “ways the White House (and our COVID experts) can partner in product work,” according to one of the messages cited in the report.

In one particularly compelling exchange, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly wrote in a text to another agency official that she was “trying to get us in a place where Fed can work with platforms to better understand the mis/dis trends so relevant agencies can try to prebunk/debunk as useful.”

“If there was ever any doubt the federal government was behind censorship of Americans who dared to dissent from official Covid messaging, that doubt has been erased,” Jenin Younes, a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance who is representing some of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. “The shocking extent of the government’s involvement in silencing Americans, through coercing social-media companies, has now been revealed.”

Government lawyers previously identified 45 officials at five agencies who discussed COVID misinformation with social media companies, including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the surgeon general’s office. Documents produced in discovery, however, show that officials from other agencies were involved, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Census Bureau, and the State and Treasury Departments. 

Plaintiffs said the documents reveal the breadth of “this Censorship Enterprise” which they assert “rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials.”

The FBI was not identified as one of the agencies in the suit, though Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed last week that the bureau approached Facebook execs ahead of the 2020 election with “Russian disinformation” warnings following the New York Post’s article about the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.