© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Biden White House successfully pressured Amazon to censor and suppress books: Emails
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Biden White House successfully pressured Amazon to censor and suppress books: Emails

Newly released documents indicate the same Biden White House that routinely bemoans perceived threats to freedom and democracy hasn't just pressured social media companies to censor speech and hide conservative news — it has also gone after literature that contains disfavored views.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) revealed Monday that documents subpoenaed by congressional investigators indicate Amazon "bowed down to Biden White House pressure to censor BOOKS."

An internal Amazon email sent on March 9, 2021, regarding a meeting with the White House includes the question of whether the Biden administration was asking the company "to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both)?"

Jordan indicated this question was a priority at Amazon because "Andy Slavitt — the senior Biden White House official who demanded that Facebook censor a meme and true information — was pressuring Amazon at the same time."

Slavitt is the senior Biden adviser who helped steer COVID-19 policy, told Americans they "could have all done a little bit better" during the pandemic, and pressured Facebook to censor Tucker Carlson videos and memes about vaccine side effects.

Jordan indicated that Slavitt and other people in the Biden White House "ran keyword searches for controversial topics, such as 'vaccine,' and emailed Amazon when [they] didn't like how the search results appeared."

In an email sent on March 2, 2021, Slavitt pressed Amazon on who the White House could "talk to about the high levels of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation of [sic] Amazon?"

Slavitt wrote in another email, "If you search for 'vaccines' under books, I see what comes up. I haven't looked beyond that but if that's what's on the surface, it's concerning."

Zach Butterworth, Biden's former public sector liaison, similarly hectored Amazon employees about books on the site, expressing concern in one instance that there was no Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning label on the sales page.

Amazon initially refused to manually censor books for fear of drawing too much heat from the public.

The company's exchange administrative group noted in a March 2, 2021, email, "We will not be doing a manual intervention today. The team/PR feels very strongly that it is too visible, and will further compound the Harry/Sally narrative (which is getting the Fox News treatment today apparently), and won't fix the problem long-term problem [sic] because of customer behavior associations."

"If we completely remove customer behavior associations it will break the search," continued the email.

Rather than censor outright, the company decided — at least at first — to "widen the search light flag for COVID-19 CDC website re-direct so that it comes to the top of the page on more search keys."

Despite these efforts, the Amazon group conceded that "it won't be satisfactory. The WH will probably ask why we don't take the content like FB/Twitter do if we aren't taking it down. That is an option being explored by [sic] that we don't want to disclose to avoid boxing in."

On account of the Biden White House's pressure campaign to censor wrongthink, Amazon generated canned excuses, including:

  • "Our guidelines address content that is illegal or infringing, generates a poor customer experience, or that we otherwise prohibit, such as pornography. Our guidelines do not specifically address content about vaccines";
  • "We believe that retailers are different than social media communities which means we review the content we make available, where we make it available in our store, and how we address content that customers find disappointing"; and
  • "As a retailer, we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable. All booksellers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer and we do not take selection decisions lightly."

Amazon's canned responses evidently failed to satisfy the ruling power.

One week later, Amazon representatives "feeling pressure from the White House" met with members of President Joe Biden's cadre "to take a closer look at books related to vaccine misinformation and debating additional steps Amazon might want to take to reduce the visibility of these titles."

It appears the White House got what it wanted: more censorship.

"Starting March 9—the same day as its meeting with the White House — Amazon enabled 'Do Not Promote' for books that expressed the view that vaccines were not effective," said Chairman Jordan.

A March 12, 2021, internal Amazon email indicated that the company had "CRM review all titles mentioned and have worked with the teams who specialize on Search, Reviews, and Personalization tools."

"One book (out of 9) was found to violate our COVID policy and was removed," continued the damning update. "As a reminder, we did enable Do Not Promote for anti-vax books whose primary purpose is to persuade readers vaccines are unsafe or ineffective on 3/9, and will review additional handling options with these books."

Jordan denounced the Biden White House's coercive efforts during a committee hearing Tuesday, stating, "I've been thinking about it. Government pressuring Amazon to ban books. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube — all this big combination to impact [an] election and now we find the same thing was happening, the same dynamic was happening at Amazon."

Concerning the new revelations about the state-driven censorship push at Amazon, Aaron Kheriaty, director of the Bioethics and American Democracy Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tweeted, "More evidence of the reach of the federal censorship leviathan — not just social media but also books on Amazon."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education noted, "If accurate, these new documents are yet another disturbing example of government pressure on private actors to suppress disfavored views."

Allum Bokhari, a journalist who has exposed various censorship efforts in the digital space, wrote, "The people who call their critics 'fascists' and enjoy cringe catchphrases like 'democracy dies in darkness' spent early 2021 using government pressure to ban books."

Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford School of Medicine and co-author of the "Great Barrington Declaration," wrote, "At this point, if the Supreme Court doesn't stop this Biden administration censorship nonsense (perhaps in the Missouri v. Biden case), the United States may as well apologize for its revolution, close up shop, and give itself back to the British Crown."

In August 2022, Bhattacharya joined Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Reopen Louisiana activist Jill Hines, and the states of Missouri and Louisiana in their legal effort to hold the Biden administration responsible for running roughshod over the First Amendment rights of critics and questioners of government COVID-19 policies.

U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty wrote in a July 4 ruling in their case that "if the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States' history."

Doughty issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration, barring its agencies and top officials from leaning on social media companies to remove, delete, suppress, or reduce "content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms."

However, a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit reversed the injunction for all officials save for the CDC, the White House, the surgeon general, and FBI.

The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently stayed the Fifth Circuit's order and is set to hear the case in the 2023-2024 term.

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?
Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@HeadlinesInGIFs →