Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of working with Big Tech to censor his social media posts about COVID-19 vaccines.
In an Aug. 28 letter to CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Republican lawmaker said he is continuing to review the health agency’s alleged efforts to “coordinate with social media companies to censor COVID-19 vaccine information.”
Mr. Johnson stated that, based on information he has allegedly received from Elon Musk’s X Corp., along with documents made public through the discovery process of state-led lawsuits against the Biden administration, “it is clear that CDC abused its authority by engaging in a censorship campaign to suppress and discredit certain viewpoints it labeled as ‘misinformation.'”
The Wisconsin senator, who has been a vocal advocate for people who claim to have been injured by COVID-19 vaccines, went on to cite the censorship of his own Jan. 3, 2022 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which he highlighted data from the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) database.
In that post, Mr. Johnson wrote: “Sadly, we passed two milestones on VAERS. Over 1 million advisers events and over 21,000 deaths, 30 percent of those deaths occurred on day 0, 1, or 2 following vaccination.
“When will federal agencies start being transparent with Americans? Why do they continue to ignore early treatment?” he concluded.
The post, which included a screenshot of the data from VAERS, was labeled “misleading” in a note explaining that health officials consider COVID-19 vaccines to be “safe for most people.”
According to Mr. Johnson, who is the ranking member on the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, all replies, shares, or likes of the post were subsequently blocked.
The lawmaker claims he later questioned officials at Twitter—prior to Mr. Musk’s takeover—as to why his post had been labeled “misleading” but received no response.
He was later told by the platform’s new leadership that executive branch officials, particularly from the CDC, “communicated with social media companies, including Twitter, about ‘COVID vaccine misinformation.'”
Sen. Johnson Demands Answers
“The information Twitter provided showed a clear and concerted effort by the CDC to censor those who tweeted about VAERS data,”
The 10 individuals include Brianne Dressen, a former preschool teacher in Utah who was left severely injured after participating in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical in November 2020, renowned Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., critical care physician Pierre Kory, Alabama-based Army surgeon Lt. Col. Theresa Long, Robert Malone, cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, professor of epidemiology Dr. Harvey Risch, and Aaron Siri, an attorney who has led multiple high-profile cases against vaccine manufacturers and federal health agencies since the pandemic began.
Mr. Johnson also asked that the CDC hand over any communications regarding him. Additionally, the lawmaker requested all documents pertaining to CDC communications with both private sector companies and federal agencies regarding the censorship of online speech or COVID-19 misinformation policies, and a list of all the social media posts that were flagged by the CDC as “containing misinformation, disinformation, or generally disfavored speech.”
Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson raised concerns over the “alarming” decision by a small number of firms, hospitals, and schools to reinstate mask mandates again amid reports of several new COVID-19 variants, including one that the CDC believes could potentially evade vaccines.
Also this month, the senator urged the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general to launch an investigation into whether or not government scientists concealed critical information about COVID-19 from the public.