Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson has filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden and a Pfizer board member for allegedly pressuring Twitter to ban his account.
“The government Defendants specifically targeted Mr. Berenson's constitutionally protected speech and journalism,” Berenson alleges in the suit. The new lawsuit, filed on April 12, names Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former White House COVID-19 official Dr. Andrew Slavitt, Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, and the White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty as defendants.
The suit also claims that Slavitt — along with other White House officials demanded to know why Berenson had not been “kicked off” the platform. When Twitter seemed reluctant to comply with the demand, the government defendants engaged in an “unprecedented conspiracy” to get Berenson permanently booted from the platform.
“Members of [the Biden] administration engaged in a nearly unprecedented conspiracy to suppress Mr. Berenson's First Amendment rights,” the complaint states.
Berenson also alleges that the federal government intentionally pressured Twitter to censor his account because of his views on COVID-19.
“Through 2021, they—and a senior board member at Pfizer, Inc. which has made more than $70 billion selling COVID-19 vaccines—worked together to pressure Twitter to suspend Mr. Berenson's account and mute his voice as a leading COVID-19 vaccine skeptic. The White House and the Biden Administration did this at the same time government officials promoted their views on the necessity of COVID-19 vaccination on Twitter, effectively blocking Mr. Berenson from commenting on their own statements or making his own.”
The suit asks the court to end the censorship that “harmed both Mr. Berenson and a clearly identifiable class of nearly 100 million Americans whose interests he helped represent—Americans who either had questions about the vaccine or did not want to be forced to take a shot that they feared had been rushed through development and lost its ability to prevent COVID-19 infections within months.”
Twitter “permanently” suspended Berenson multiple times because he questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Berenson’s previous lawsuit against Twitter for banning his account resulted in a settlement and an admission from Twitter that it should not have banned him.
But Berenson’s was only one of the most prominent accounts censored because of COVID-19 views that went against the established narrative.
MRC Free Speech America reported in January that Big Pharma “directly” pressured Twitter to censor users who expressed support for alternative treatments to the virus besides the vaccine.
The Intercept journalist Lee Fang released a set of Twitter Files detailing just how “the pharmaceutical industry lobbied social media to shape content around vaccine policy.”
Fang wrote that BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner in the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine, “direct[ly] pressure[d]” Twitter to censor “activists demanding low-cost generic vaccines for low-income countries.”
Fang concluded: “Notably, this massive push to censor and label covid misinfo never applied to drug companies…The rules applied only to critics of industry.”
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