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Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson claimed that a prominent Pfizer board member and a former top Biden administration adviser secretly pressured Twitter to censor him on the social media platform over his questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Berenson believes that he was banned from Twitter because of the influence of a senior board member of Pfizer. Citing emails obtained through discovery in his lawsuit against Twitter, Berenson accused Scott Gottlieb of pressuring Twitter leadership to permanently suspend his account.
Gottlieb was the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019; he resigned and was named to Pfizer's board of directors three months later.
Berenson wrote in his "Unreported Truths" Substack on Thursday, "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."
Berenson claimed that corporate, private, and federal conspirators "wanted to block my reporting about the failure of the mRNA COVID vaccines," adding, "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," Berenson alleged. "They wanted to soil my reputation as a reporter and damage me and my family financially."
In August 2021, Berenson wrote a Substack piece titled: "Quite frankly: The arrogance of Anthony Fauci, and what it means for the rest of us." Within hours of the article being published, Gottlieb shared the piece with a Twitter employee via email, according to Berenson. The Substack article includes an alleged screenshot of the leaked email.
Gottlieb purportedly said in the email, "This is what's promoted on Twitter. This is why Tony needs a security detail."
Despite Gottlieb's insinuation that Berenson was putting Fauci in danger, the journalist insisted, "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.'"
Berenson wrote, "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."
A Twitter spokesperson said Berenson's account was "permanently suspended for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules."
Berenson argued that the tweet was "entirely accurate" and added, "I can't wait to hear what a jury will make of this."
Berenson filed a federal lawsuit against Twitter in December that alleged the big tech corporation "acted on behalf of the federal government in censoring and barring him [from] its platform."
Twitter settled the lawsuit in July, and Berenson's official account was restored.
Berenson noted, "Twitter has acknowledged that my tweets should have not led to my suspension at that time."
One Twitter employee told another, "They had one really tough question about why Alex Berenson hasn't been kicked off the platform."
"They really wanted to know about Alex Berenson," read another screen capture of a conversation between Twitter employees. "Andy Slavitt suggested they had seen data viz [visualization] that had showed he was the epicenter of disinfo that radiated outwards to the persuadable public."
A Twitter employee allegedly informed a colleague that Slavitt described Berenson's reporting on the pandemic as an obstacle to convincing the "persuadable public" to take COVID-19 vaccines.
At the time of the meeting, Andy Slavitt served as a senior White House COVID-19 adviser until he left the Biden administration in June 2021.
"Slavitt and Gottlieb know each other well," Berenson asserted. "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."
Speaking about social media platforms with CNBC in July 2021, Gottlieb said, “If they’re giving someone a very big platform to distribute information, they have an obligation to look at the information that’s being distributed. I do think that they have an affirmative responsibility here, and in some cases they’re not doing it."
In July 2021, the White House admitted that senior staff members were working with Facebook to flag "problematic posts" regarding COVID.
"This is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
"In terms of actions ... that we have taken, or we're working to take, I should say, from the federal government, we've increased disinformation research and tracking within the surgeon general's office," Psaki proclaimed. "We're flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation."
Also in mid-July 2021, President Biden accused social media companies of "killing people" for not taking action against COVID misinformation. He added, "The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated."
Berenson wrote, "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."
On July 31, 2021, Slavitt allegedly wrote an email to a Twitter employee that read: "If he doesn't go permanently after this, the outcry will be justified."
Berenson was permanently banned from Twitter on Aug. 28, 2021.
On Thursday night, Berenson appeared on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" to discuss his accusations of censorship by Twitter that he blames on Gottlieb and Slavitt.
Berenson told host Tucker Carlson that Slavitt – Biden's White House senior advisdr for the COVID response – was in communication with Twitter about Berenson as early as April 2021. Berenson said Slavitt told Twitter he was a problem for the White House and asked the social network why it hadn't banned him.
Berenson then accused Gottlieb of getting him banned from Twitter.
"And then Scott Gottlieb – who is a director of Pfizer on the executive committee of Pfizer, which has made tens of billions of dollars from selling these vaccines – went to Twitter and said, 'This guy is a problem,' and then they banned me," Berenson told Carlson.
Berenson announced on Thursday that he plans to file a new lawsuit and has sent “demand letters” to Gottlieb, Pfizer, and Slavitt.
He said, "We have several grounds, likely including a conspiracy to interfere with my civil rights – in this case, my First Amendment right to free speech."
\u201cWow. Alex Berenson says former FDA Commissioner and current Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb colluded with Twitter to ban him for daring to be skeptical about the vaccine.\u201d— The Post Millennial (@The Post Millennial) 1665709495
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Paul Sacca is a staff writer for Blaze News.