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College throws its Ivy League-educated president under the bus for 'liking' tweets critical of COVID vaccines, trans surgeries for kids
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College throws its Ivy League-educated president under the bus for 'liking' tweets critical of COVID vaccines, trans surgeries for kids

Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University came down hard on its president for "liking" tweets critical of COVID vaccines and trans surgeries for kids.

What are the details?

A Philadelphia Inquirer story over the weekend called out the college's 70-year-old president, Dr. Mark Tykocinski, saying the Yale-educated molecular immunologist "has used his Twitter account to 'like' tweets that question the science of COVID-19 vaccines, call gender reassignment surgery 'child mutilation,' and are critical of diversity offices on college campuses, among other controversial topics."

The Inquirer did some counting and discovered that Tykocinski in the last year "liked" nearly 30 tweets from Alex Berenson, whom the paper said was "once called 'the pandemic’s wrongest man' by the Atlantic."

With that, Thomas Jefferson University CEO Joseph G. Cacchione on Sunday messaged faculty, employees, and students and ripped Tykocinski's "careless use" of Twitter, adding that "at his level, he is held to a higher standard and should have known better," the Inquirer said in a follow-up story.

Berenson responded on Twitter by saying "academic freedom is dead" — and Twitter CEO Elon Musk added that the school's response is "absurd."

Musk wasn't done:

Apology parade

As you might guess, a Tykocinski apology parade has been in full swing.

According to the Inquirer, Tykocinski said in a statement that he “liked” the tweets in question in order to bookmark them so he could "learn more about the subject matter or the particular viewpoint."

“What I did not understand was that by liking a tweet, it could be interpreted as endorsement of the thought expressed or the person expressing it. ... I certainly had no intention of endorsing the content of individual tweets or the person tweeting," he added to the paper.

“I regret my lack of understanding of how ‘liking’ a tweet is an implied endorsement. I also regret how my lack of understanding of the Twitter platform caused some to question my views on these complex issues," he also told the Inquirer.

The paper added that in regard to COVID-19 vaccines, Tykocinski clarified: “I do not believe vaccines are harmful. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were originally made available through an accelerated [emergency use authorization] process: and hence, the speed in which they were developed saves millions of lives. There is still much to be learned. Academic institutions play a key role in answering these questions.”

The Inquirer added that when asked if he regarded transgender surgery as child mutilation, Tykocinski replied: “This is not my clinical area of expertise. In general, any issue involving children should be referred to clinical experts at children’s hospitals who offer the full complement of services necessary.”

A 'teaching moment'

A Jefferson spokesperson told the Inquirer that the college "intends to use this opportunity as a teaching moment regarding the understanding, impact, and prudent use of social media.”

More from the paper:

Patricia D. Wellenbach, chair of the Thomas Jefferson University board of trustees and president and CEO of the Please Touch Museum, said in an email Monday afternoon that the situation “is getting my and the board’s full attention.”

“I, and the board of trustees, have complete confidence in [Cacchione], and the management team who are thoughtfully managing the situation while continuing to remain focused on our mission to serve our community every day.”

Cacchione in his message further went on to emphasize that a “diverse, equitable and inclusive environment is fundamental” to Jefferson’s mission and that COVID-19 vaccines “saved countless lives.” Jefferson followed all guidelines, including requiring its employees and students to be vaccinated, he wrote.

Inquirer reporter feeling the heat, too

Susan Snyder, the Inquirer reporter who penned both stories, has been getting criticized on Twitter:

  • "That hit piece you wrote about that medical doctor is disgraceful," one user told her. "You know you need to resign immediately."
  • "You're nothing but a bully guised as a journalist," another commenter said. "Shame on you."
  • "You are making a mockery of journalism," another user wrote. "Resign."
  • "You are an inspector with the thought police, not a journalist," another commenter said.
  • "How dare you spy on what a person LIKES ON TWITTER FGS!" another user exclaimed. "You should be fired, not HIM."

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Dave Urbanski

Dave Urbanski

Sr. Editor, News

Dave Urbanski is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@DaveVUrbanski →