Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb secretly pressed Twitter to censor me days before Twitter suspended my account last year
After White House pressure failed to force Twitter to ban me immediately, Gottlieb, who was in contact with federal officials, stepped in; I will be suing him, Pfizer, and the Biden Administration
On August 24, 2021, Dr. Scott Gottlieb sent an urgent email about my reporting to a contact at Twitter.
Gottlieb is the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, a close colleague of many federal officials - and a senior board member of Pfizer, which has made $70 billion selling mRNA vaccines.
In his email, Gottlieb forwarded an article I had written about Dr. Anthony Fauci on this Substack and complained, “This is whats promoted on Twitter. This is why Tony needs a security detail.”
Thus Gottlieb — whom Pfizer pays almost $400,000 a year to serve on its board, including its highest-level “executive committee” — began the final act in a secret months-long conspiracy to suppress my basic American right to free speech.
The conspirators included corporate, private, and federal actors.
They wanted to block my reporting about the failure of the mRNA Covid vaccines. They wanted to suppress debate about the necessity for vaccine boosters or mandates.
They wanted Twitter, the most important global platform for journalism, to ban me, even though Twitter had repeatedly found my posts did not violate its rules. They wanted to soil my reputation as a reporter and damage me and my family financially.
For a time, they succeeded.
It should go without saying that my Substack piece about “Tony” did not threaten or harass him in any way. It merely called him “arrogant” and a “skilled courtier” and mocked his infamous comment that criticizing him was “attacking science.”
Four days after Gottlieb sent that email - and just 24 hours after he had a secret conference call with Twitter employees about me - Twitter permanently banned me, claiming I had violated its rules on Covid misinformation.
Even then, Gottlieb was not done trying to silence me. He pursued me after the ban, quickly informing Twitter when he learned that I had taken over another account to provide a new avenue for my reporting.
SUPPORT THIS REPORTING AND MY COMING LEGAL BATTLE AGAINST PFIZER AND THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
For a time, the conspirators must have believed they’d won.
But like the mRNA vaccines they have tried to force on people around the world, their success lasted only a few months and has now turned into an ugly, messy failure.
I filed a federal lawsuit over the ban against Twitter in San Francisco in December. In July Twitter settled the suit, restored my account, and admitted it had been wrong to suspend me.
Now, thanks to internal Twitter documents and emails that I have obtained as part of that lawsuit, the full extent of the conspiracy to censor me is emerging.
(Incredibly, on Saturday, Oct. 8, Twitter locked my account and barred me from making new posts, again for supposedly breaking its Covid misinformation rules. I believe Twitter simply wants to punish me because it knows this article will prove embarrassing to it, and at a minimum wishes to keep me from breaking this news on its platform.)
The conspiracy to censor me appears to have begun in earnest in April 2021, as I raised questions about the safety and efficacy of the mRNA Covid vaccines.
At its heart was Gottlieb’s colleague and friend Andy Slavitt. Slavitt and Gottlieb know each other well. In April 2020, they co-authored a letter to Congress demanding expanded Covid contact tracing efforts. They also appeared together on interviews, including on Slavitt’s own “In The Bubble” podcast, which Pfizer sponsors.
From January through June 2021, Slavitt served as senior advisor to the Biden Administration’s Covid response team. On April 21, 2021, Slavitt and other Biden Administration officials spoke to Twitter officials to complain about vaccine “misinformation.”
Afterwards, a Twitter employee told other employees in a private discussion over Slack that the White House had “one really tough question about why Alex Berenson hasn’t been kicked off from the platform.” The employee distinguished the question from others White House officials had asked, which the employee called “pointed but fair.”
Another employee wrote in a different Slack discussion that Slavitt had attacked me directly, calling my reporting an obstacle to convincing the “persuadable public” to take Covid vaccines.
But Twitter did not want to take action against me.
Jack Dorsey, the company’s founder, had begun following me in May 2020, and a Twitter executive had repeatedly assured me that I was not violating any of its rules. Twitter employees confirmed that view to each other in private. “I’ve taken a close look at his account, and I don’t think any of it is violative,” a Twitter employee wrote following the White House meeting.
Nonetheless, under pressure from Slavitt, Twitter agreed to still another review of my account to try to find violations that would enable it to suspend me without breaking its terms of service:
Yet for almost three months after this “deep dive,” Twitter took no action against me.
Then, in July 2021, the censorship efforts took on a new urgency.
The reason was simple. The vaccines had begun to fail, much more quickly the public had been told to expect. In Israel, the first country to complete a mass vaccination campaign with Pfizer’s mRNA shot, infections soared. Hospitalizations and deaths rapidly followed.
The Biden Administration and Pfizer began preparing vaccinated people to take a third mRNA “booster” dose, despite a lack of clinical trial data on the safety or effectiveness of a booster. The administration also began to consider imposing politically divisive employment- and education-related vaccine mandates, despite earlier promises it would not.
So silencing vaccine skeptics became a top priority - for the White House and Pfizer. No one was more skeptical, or had a larger audience, than I did - as Slavitt had told Twitter in April.
Publicly, the conspirators did not focus on me. Instead, they spoke generically about their interest in combatting what they referred to as vaccine “misinformation,” and broadly encouraged Twitter and social media companies to do the same.
On July 16, Gottlieb told MSNBC, “I think the social media platforms do have an obligation to police the kind of misinformation that we’re seeing—things that are truly false—and we’ve seen them step in to do that,” he said.
On the same day, President Biden said social media companies were “killing people” by allowing dissenters to raise questions about the mRNA shots.
The pressure had immediate impact.
A few hours after Biden’s comment, Twitter locked me out of my account for the first time. On July 27, it gave me a third “strike,” and on July 30, a fourth - this time for a tweet that did nothing but accurately reflect the results of a Pfizer clinical trial.
Meanwhile, Slavitt - who was now outside the White House - continued to press Twitter to ban me.
In a sign of just how closely Pfizer, Slavitt, and the Biden Administration were communicating, Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla appeared on a podcast with Slavitt on July 28, 2021 - the same day that Bourla traveled to the White House for a meeting that had been scheduled only one day before. The meeting was not publicly disclosed until the White House published its visitor logs months later.
Meanwhile, Gottlieb was also in touch with the Biden Administration.
Gottlieb is a Republican, but he spoke regularly to Democratic officials even before Biden’s inauguration. In December 2020, he told USA Today that he had “had a couple of discussions with the [Biden] transition team just to give them some advice… I'm available. I pick up the phone, I call people back, and I try to be helpful to whoever I can.”
Gottlieb remained in “pretty regular” contact with Slavitt and other Biden Administration officials throughout the winter and spring of 2021, according to a comment Slavitt made on his podcast on July 7, 2021.
Gottlieb had joined Pfizer’s board barely two years earlier, in June 2019, only three months after resigning as FDA commissioner. But he rapidly became a crucial member. He is the head of the board’s regulatory and compliance committee and one of seven members of the executive committee. He was an aggressive advocate for Pfizer’s mRNA shot, including signing a letter in August 2021 demanding that colleges and universities impose vaccine mandates on their students and staff.
Twitter gave me my fourth strike on July 30, 2021 for the tweet about Pfizer’s clinical trial results. Per Twitter’s policy, the strike included a seven-day suspension, so the platform allowed me back on August 6.
At that point Slavitt, the White House, and Pfizer had every reason to believe Twitter would permanently ban me within days. My fourth strike clearly was invalid under Twitter’s own policies - it was a simple statement of fact about Pfizer’s clinical trial results. By imposing the strike, Twitter was essentially arguing it could take action against me at any time for any reason.
Yet nearly all of August passed without Twitter imposing a fifth strike and suspending my account, even as I continued to post aggressively.
By August 24, Gottlieb had had enough of Twitter’s inaction.
He went to Twitter himself, invoking “Tony.” As they discussed how to respond, Twitter officials planned to keep their conversation with him broad rather than focusing on me, but a Slack chat at the time of Gottlieb’s call with them on August 27 shows that my name came up quickly.
The next day, August 28, Gottlieb sent Twitter one more email - this one simply cutting and pasting what at the time was my final Tweet. The fact that he said nothing else suggests a phone call or text message alongside the email, though at this point I cannot be sure.
In any case, Gottlieb, Slavitt, and the White House had forced Twitter’s hand. That night, Twitter gave me my fifth strike and what the conspirators thought would be my permanent suspension - a fact that Andy Slavitt was quick to point out.
Now the sordid saga is unraveling - even as people around the world are rejecting Pfizer’s technology in the most profound way, by largely refusing to take more mRNA Covid shots. Several governments have now discouraged or banned healthy adults under 50 from taking more boosters, and demand for the fall Omicron booster appears to be near zero.
But I do not intend to allow Gottlieb, Pfizer, Slavitt, and the White House simply to escape or forget their effort to muzzle me.
James Lawrence, who represented me in my lawsuit against Twitter, has already sent “demand letters” to Gottlieb, Pfizer, and Slavitt notifying them that we plan to sue. We have several grounds, likely including a conspiracy to interfere with my civil rights - in this case, my First Amendment right to free speech.
Such lawsuits are extraordinarily rare, but so is the conduct that we have already unearthed. Pfizer has essentially complete immunity from product liability for its mRNA shot, so this suit may provide the ONLY opportunity to learn what the company knew about the problems with its vaccine in mid-2021, and how it schemed with the Biden Administration on boosters and mandates.
I will do everything I can to ensure the sun rises on this conspiracy – not just for me, or everyone whose rights to speak and debate came under attack, but for the untold millions of Americans who desperately wanted to avoid taking mRNA vaccines in the fall of 2021 and were forced to do so at risk of their jobs and educations.
The insane government coercion of 2021 is, thankfully, behind us. But the battle over what happened last year has only begun.