- Members of the Biden administration pressured Facebook on not censoring a video of Tucker Carlson that was critical of vaccines in April of 2021, according to documents published Monday by Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry.
- Facebook ultimately refused multiple calls to delete the video, despite one White House official insinuating that the company’s intransigence was responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots, according to the documents..
- “Throughout our case, we have uncovered disturbing collusion between Big Tech and Big Government,” Attorney General Landry told the DCNF. “Today’s reveal is yet another example of the ongoing coercive efforts by the White House to pressure social media companies into censoring American citizens.”
Officials in the Biden administration repeatedly questioned Facebook’s decision to not completely censor a video posted by Tucker Carlson criticizing COVID-19 vaccines, at one point insinuating that the company was encouraging violent behavior and responsible for the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” according to emails published Monday by Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry.
Andrew Slavitt — at the time the Biden administration’s COVID-19 czar — wrote a message to Facebook staff on the morning of April 14, 2021, expressing frustration that a Tucker Carlson video that was critical of COVID-19 was the “[n]umber one” post on Facebook, according to the emails. A Facebook staffer responded to Slavitt’s request at nearly 11:00 p.m. the same day, informing him that while the Carlson video did not qualify for removal, it was no longer being recommended to users, had a label sending users to “authoritative” sources of information on the pandemic and was being “demoted,” according to the emails. (RELATED: White House Pressed Facebook To Censor Tucker Carlson, Document Reveals)
The Facebook staffer also noted that the video was “not the most popular post about vaccines on Facebook today,” citing seven other pieces of “popular vaccine-related content” on the site that day — including posts from CNN, The New York Times and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — according to the emails. This seemingly did little to alleviate the White House’s concern over the post, with White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty sending a response with a series of questions about the post, according to the documents published by Landry.
“How was this not violative? The second half of the segment is raising conspiracy theories about the government hiding that all vaccines aren’t effective. … Moreover: you say reduced and demoted. What does that mean? There’s 40,000 shares on the video. … How effective is that?” Flaherty wrote to the unidentified Facebook staffer just after 11:30 p.m. on April 14, 2021, according to the documents. “Not for nothing but the last time we did this dance, it ended in an insurrection.”
The emails appear to be in reference to a April 13, 2021 video posted by the Tucker Carlson Tonight Facebook page in which Carlson discussed the temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by health officials over instances of patients experiencing blood clots. Carlson criticized the Biden administration’s approach to reducing “vaccine hesitancy” and argued that public health officials were not praising the vaccine’s effectiveness as emphatically as they previously had.
Facebook continued to demote the Tucker Carlson video even though no fact checking actually occurred.
— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) January 9, 2023
When Flaherty’s questions went unanswered, he sent a follow-up message on April 16, 2021, just after 4:30 p.m., according to the documents.
“These questions weren’t rhetorical,” reads the entirety of Flaherty’s April 16 email, according to the documents. Hours later, a Facebook staffer responded to the email, informing him that the team has been “heads-down” investigating the answers to his questions and hoping to set up a call to discuss their report.
Five days later, on April 21, 2021, a Facebook staffer sent a message to Flaherty, thanking him for attending a call about the situation and clarifying the answers to his questions, according to the published documents.
The message reiterates that the Carlson video did not violate the company’s misinformation policies — after a detailed review — and that it received a “50% demotion for seven days” while waiting to be fact checked. The post would remain there for an indeterminate amount of time, however, since it had not been fact checked by the time the staffer sent the email to Flaherty.
Slavitt would later complain to The Washington Post in August 2021, that while Facebook did provide the White House with data, the company often did not provide “meaningful data.”
The emails were revealed via the discovery process of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, alleging that the Biden administration improperly pressured and worked alongside media companies to suppress speech.
“Throughout our case, we have uncovered disturbing collusion between Big Tech and Big Government,” Attorney General Landry told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Today’s reveal is yet another example of the ongoing coercive efforts by the White House to pressure social media companies into censoring American citizens.”
Tucker Carlson is a board member of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The White House and Meta did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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