Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed Big Tech’s censorship of COVID-19 content in a roundtable discussion announcing that he was calling for a “grand jury” to investigate “wrongdoing” related to COVID vaccines.
DeSantis not only called out Twitter for its biased COVID-19 censorship, particularly as revealed in the Twitter Files, but insisted that many other tech platforms practice unjust censorship and need accountability.
“Part of this issue and other issues goes back to an attempt to enforce one acceptable narrative on all these issues,” DeSantis said. He specifically cited Twitter’s secret blacklisting of COVID-19 lockdown critic Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, as revealed in the Twitter Files.
DeSantis also cited efforts by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and his allies to censor the Great Barrington Declaration, co-written in 2020 by Bhattacharya and two other experts. The declaration criticized COVID-19 lockdown and masking measures. “They wanted to not contest the ideas in that,” DeSantis said, “they basically wanted to—to smear them because they didn’t want to have any criticism of their lockdown policies.”
Bhattacharya and fellow declaration author and epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff are set to serve on DeSantis’s new Public Health Integrity Committee, which will “assess” federal recommendations and tailor them to Florida, according to Kulldorff.
“Part of the reason I think it’s been a bad response is because from the very beginning you had a lot of arrogance that it’s our way or the highway, and anyone that offers any type of a dissenting opinion [was censored],” DeSantis said. “They were censoring from Day One.” Even in March and April 2020, social media censored people who criticized lockdowns, DeSantis noted, “over and over again.”
DeSantis said a policy or analysis of medical science should “stand on its own,” and if it cannot withstand criticism, “then maybe you need to be looking in the mirror” instead of censoring. “But that’s not what these elites wanted to do. They wanted to just cocoon themselves from any criticism and to try to denigrate anybody that had a different way of thinking.”
DeSantis said he anticipates even more revelations from Elon Musk regarding the Twitter Files, calling them “important,” but noted that Twitter is hardly the only or the largest tech company censoring. Google, YouTube, and other platforms suppressed COVID-19 content, too, as an MRC Free Speech America study previously highlighted.
“I guarantee you everything that was going on in Twitter is going on in these others, if not even more so,” DeSantis insisted.
The governor cited Big Tech’s attacks on Florida when the state rejected the enforced consensus on masking for small children as one example of the pervasiveness of online censorship.
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