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Censorship and Defamation: Weapons of Control

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In a stunning article published in the academic journal “Minerva,” the mainstream academic publisher Springer has allowed truth to be spoken. Minerva may not be known to many of you, but by no means is it “obscure.” It has a decent 5-year impact factor of 2.7. (That is decent for the social sciences, anyway.). And it’s a Q1 journal in its subfield. And by the way, the first author on the paper is Yaffa Shir-Raz, who broke the story with video from the internal meeting at the Israeli ministry of health and how they hid many of the key findings regarding the Pfizer mRNA vaccine adverse effects.

Censorship and Suppression of Covid‑19 Heterodoxy: Tactics and Counter‑Tactics, Yaffa Shir‑Raz, Ety Elisha. Brian Martin. Natti Ronel, Josh Guetzkow, Accepted: 28 September 2022, Published online: 01 November 2022

Having personally lived through what may be among the most intensive slander, defamation and derision campaigns of the COVID crisis, none of what was described in this article surprised me. I think that I can probably guess the names of some of the interviewed physicians and medical scientists discussed in the article, as so many have shared their own experiences with me. But seeing it written out in a dry academic style and published like a case series study of global corporate, organizational and governmental psychopathology and greed is another thing altogether. I expected the article to bring a tear of relief at being heard and validated, but instead it just left me numb. 

The publication summarized much of what I have personally experienced (and by way of disclosure of conflict of interest, I was mentioned as an example in the introduction, although I did not participate in the survey). Much but not all. It missed the ubiquitous Wikipedia rewriting of personal history (and in my case, writing me out of the history of nine of my issued US patents). 

It missed Amazon’s deleting the very credible and well-referenced book on “Prepare and protect from the novel Coronavirus” which Dr. Jill Glasspool-Malone PhD (Biotechnology and Public Policy) had worked so hard to publish in the first week of February 2020 – with the only explanation being that it “violated community standards.” 

It missed the concerted effort to deny my contributions as a young man to coming up with the whole idea of using mRNA as a drug or vaccine, and developing the technology to the point where it was proven in a mouse model. It missed the (largely successful) stolen valor campaign to credit two scientists (one a Fauci post-doc, the other a Bio-N-Tech VP) who came along almost a decade after my work and sought to take credit for my contributions while writing me out of history. 

It missed the professional infiltration and disruption campaigns designed to destroy the American trucker protest movement and the medical freedom movements. It missed the YouTube deletions of US Senate testimony convened by a sitting US Senator, Ron Johnson. 

It missed the incredibly ugly campaign waged in Maui against a fifth-generation Hawaiian former military service MD who had the temerity (as a beloved local public health officer) to insist that he see data justifying genetic COVID vaccination of pregnant women with an unlicensed product before he would recommend that procedure. It missed the Maui-based MD/PhD Pediatric Cardiologist (and devout Pastor with a long history of voluntary public works) who was similarly railroaded for raising concerns about myocarditis in children who received the gene therapy-based COVID vaccines.

It missed the storm of controversy and censorship triggered by my participating in a conversation with Mr. Joe Rogan, which reached such a fever pitch that a member of Congress inserted a transcript of that discussion into the Congressional record as a method to insure a permanent historic record of the discussion.

It also missed the 17,000 Physicians and Medical Scientists who endorsed the declarations of the Global Covid Summit. It missed the Biden White House appropriating the name “Global Covid Summit” and holding their own in an effort to flood the information zone and internet searches with its own propaganda.

But it got a lot right, and it has documented that these attacks against medical care providers and medical scientists have happened in an amazingly coordinated fashion all over the world.

What has happened to the Western world? The Chinese Communist Party censorship policies and practices which we once ridiculed, the ham-handed propaganda of the former Soviet Union, have become assimilated and normalized throughout the West. We have met the enemy, and we have become him.

Following is the short version of this academic publication, the abstract.

Abstract: The emergence of COVID-19 has led to numerous controversies over COVID-related knowledge and policy. To counter the perceived threat from doctors and scientists who challenge the official position of governmental and intergovernmental health authorities, some supporters of this orthodoxy have moved to censor those who promote dissenting views. The aim of the present study is to explore the experiences and responses of highly accomplished doctors and research scientists from different countries who have been targets of suppression and/or censorship following their publications and statements in relation to COVID-19 that challenge official views. Our findings point to the central role played by media organizations, and especially by information technology companies, in attempting to stifle debate over COVID-19 policy and measures. In the effort to silence alternative voices, widespread use was made not only of censorship, but of tactics of suppression that damaged the reputations and careers of dissenting doctors and scientists, regardless of their academic or medical status and regardless of their stature prior to expressing a contrary position. In place of open and fair discussion, censorship and suppression of scientific dissent has deleterious and far-reaching implications for medicine, science, and public health.


So how did we even get here? Step by normalizing step. With former President Barack Obama leading every step of the way: Obama: The internet is “the single biggest threat to our democracy” and Barack Obama Takes On a New Role: Fighting Disinformation


And now this has all been completely normalized under years nine and ten of the (interrupted) Obama-Biden presidential administration, and incorporated into an Administrative State edict.

Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland

•“The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.…The primary terrorism-related threat to the United States continues to stem from lone offenders or small cells of individuals who are motivated by a range of foreign and/or domestic grievances often cultivated through the consumption of certain online content.

•Key factors contributing to the current heightened threat environment include:

•The proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in US government institutions

•For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19.

•Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.”

•“As COVID-19 restrictions continue to decrease nationwide, increased access to commercial and government facilities and the rising number of mass gatherings could provide increased opportunities for individuals looking to commit acts of violence to do so, often with little or no warning.

•Meanwhile, COVID-19 mitigation measures—particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates—have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020 and could continue to inspire these extremists to target government, healthcare, and academic institutions that they associate with those measures.”


So, here we are. The US Government lies about “domestic violent extremists” justifying violence (?? What violence ??) based on resistance to “COVID-19 mitigation measures—particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates,” and both corporate media and Big Tech do everything they can to support and reinforce that narrative.

But what really happened? What happened to front-line physicians and scientists who stood their ground and spoke truth to power? And why didn’t more physicians stand up and object?

Here are the findings from this limited study:

Findings

Study participants reported being subject to a wide variety of censorship and suppression tactics used against them by both the medical establishment and the media, due to their critical and unorthodox positions on COVID-19. They also described the counter-tactics they used to resist. We divide the findings into two sections, the first describing censorship and suppression tactics and the second describing the counter-tactics used by our participants.

Silencing Dissent: Censoring and Suppressing Tactics

Tactics of censorship and suppression described by our respondents include exclusion, derogatory labelling, hostile comments and threatening statements by the media, both mainstream and social; dismissal by the respondents’ employers; official inquiries; revocation of medical licenses; lawsuits; and retraction of scientific papers after publication.

Exclusion

Respondents reported how, at a very early stage of the epidemic, when they just began to express criticism or their different position, they were surprised to discover that the mainstream media, which until then had seen them as desirable interviewees, stopped interviewing them and accepting opinion pieces from them.

Denigration

Respondents reported that exclusion was only the first step: shortly after that they started being subjected to defamation by the media, and disparaged as “anti-vaxxers,” Covid deniers,” “dis/misinformation spreaders” and/or “conspiracy theorists.”

Recruiting “Third Parties” to Assist in Discrediting

One prominent tactic our respondents claim was used by the media to discredit them was the use of seemingly independent “third party sources,” such as other doctors, to undermine them, for example by writing defamatory articles.

Another “third party” source used by the media, according to our respondents, was “fact-checking” organizations, a practice that is ostensibly meant to verify published information to promote the veracity of reporting. However, some respondents alleged that the fact-checking groups were recruited and operated by corporate or other stakeholders to discredit them and try to discredit the information they presented.

Some of the participants said that those “fact-checking” groups were used to discredit and defame not only the researcher or doctor who presented a contrarian opinion or information, but also others who were associated with them. Some respondents said that the media persecuted them to the point of blackening their name at their workplace, resulting in their dismissal, or that they were forced to resign.

Online Censorship

Some respondents reported being censored on social media networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn), and said some of their posts, tweets, videos or even accounts were taken down by the networks.

Respondents noted that the removal of their materials from social networks was accompanied by a notice claiming they had violated the “community rules.” They emphasized that these were academic materials, backed up scientifically.

I became aware that an academic YouTube video that I had put together regarding the paper in the XXX journal … was pulled down by YouTube, and I received a notice that it had violated terms of the YouTube community… without ever having any terms of use from YouTube that would explain what types of terms would be applied to a four PowerPoint slide scientific video…

One of the respondents reported on censorship even in Google Docs, which means that even private communications are being censored:

Google Docs started restricting and censoring my ability to share documents… This is not Twitter throwing me off like they did. This is an organization telling me that I cannot send a private communication to a colleague or to a friend, or to a family member…

Censorship and Suppression by the Medical and Academic Establishment

Some of the respondents reported that they were subjected to defamation by their own institution, with the apparent intention to harm their reputation and careers. For example:

…in [my country], we have approximately 55,000 physicians. My name appeared on the official website of the Ministry of Health, that I’m the only person, one medical doctor who is… distributing disinformation…. There was a concerted effort to… ruin my reputation even though, this is unbelievable, they [the hospital where I work] had the lowest death rate basically in the world.

Some participants also said that they had received a clear message from the institution where they worked that they were not allowed to identify themselves with the institution when giving an interview or a testimony or expressing their views—in some cases as a condition of renewing their contract.

I gave X (a certain treatment) testimony, and that kind of went viral. And the hospital was not happy because my affiliation had shown up… They offered me a new contract. They said …, we got some new terms for you, because my old contract was not restricted. The new one basically had like seven or eight restrictions of my First Amendment rights… basically I couldn’t talk to the press, I couldn’t speak in public…, unless I said, these are my opinions not that of my employer… It was a relatively short conversation. I said that’s never going to happen, I’m never going to sign that thing, and we said goodbye.

In some cases, respondents reported that following a position or criticism they expressed, they were dismissed from their institution, or were notified that their contract would not be renewed.

Similarly, respondents said they were summarily dismissed or disqualified from prestigious positions, such as serving on leading health or scientific committees, or editing medical journals, without due process or transparency.

In one case, the respondent had learned that his country’s parallel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intervened and asked the university to “examine” his “case:”

…my university president invited me to talk about “corona.” In that meeting, I was informed… that the [The equivalent health authority to the CDC in the interviewees’ country] had written a letter to the president, asking him to examine my case because, according to the ministerial letter, I was going public with methodologically questionable things. According to the president, the university has never received similar requests before…

Some of the interviewees said that the health establishment had not only blackened their reputation and taken serious measures against them but also cooperated with the media and made sure to spread the information about those measures through them.

Official Inquiries

Some doctors reported on official inquiries launched against them, such as investigating or threatening to withdraw their medical license.

One of the respondents reports that a million-dollar lawsuit was filed against him.

Another respondent reports on a police search conducted at his private clinic in his home.

Retraction of Scientific Papers

Some researchers and doctors recounted how their research had been retracted by the journal after publication.

Another theme that arose repeatedly during the interviews was that research critical of COVID-19 policies and orthodoxy were treated in ways the interviewees had never encountered before in their careers. This included having papers rejected from journals (often multiple times) without peer review, the journal review and publication process taking many months longer than typical for the journal, and even having papers rejected from pre-print servers such as MedRXiv.

In one case, an interviewee said he felt so threatened by the medical establishment that he refrained from putting his name on papers he co-authored with other researchers, and that those whose names do appear on the papers were trying to hide or stay under the radar until the paper was published.

But there is a ray of hope. A small number of physicians and medical scientists resisted.

Counter‑reaction: Fighting Back

The respondents noted that their initial reaction to the attacks and censorship was shock and surprise, since for the first time in their lives they felt excluded from the scientific/medical community, attacked by the media and sometimes by their employers, and/or disparaged as “conspiracy theorists” who endanger the public health. Yet, despite the censorship, the personal attacks and defamation, the dismissals, the damage to reputations and the economic price, all respondents nevertheless stated that none of it deterred them, and they decided to fight back, using various counter-tactics.

First Reactions: Shock and Surprise

Most respondents describe their initial reaction to the persecution and censorship they experienced as shock. Some said that they felt threatened, and for the first time, excluded from the scientific/medical community.

Respondents said that they felt that the threats, dismissals and attacks against them were in fact an attempt to silence them, just because their opinions were not aligned with those dictated by the authorities.

Some respondents said they felt that the censorship and unprecedented attacks they experienced were especially vicious because those who did it knew they were valued and influential.

Determined to Fight

Our respondents stated that the censorship and suppression they experienced made them want to fight back and make their voices heard more, on the grounds of freedom of speech and their concern for public health.

Some of them even noted that the attacks on their reputation made them even more determined and eager to expose the information that was being censored.

Some of the respondents said they decided to take official or legal actions against the organizations that censored them.

The respondents’ counter-reactions were expressed in several ways: a desire to disclose the act of censorship and the information that was censored, which they claim is evidence-based; use of alternative channels in order to spread their positions and views in relation to COVID-19 publicly; establishment of support networks with colleagues; and development of alternative medical and health information systems. That is, they created a kind of a parallel world to the mainstream establishment.

Exposing the Censorship

Some respondents stressed that they wanted to expose the censorship act itself. 

Using Alternative Channels

Respondents noted that when they understood that they were censored by the mainstream media, they decided to use alternative channels, such as social media platforms, to spread their position and contrary information and voice their opinions in public.

Some of the respondents said that to protect themselves, they were forced to open “secret” Telegram or anonymous Twitter accounts. Although they express frustration, they are still doing it in order to spread information. For example, one participant noted that it is absurd that scientists should keep secret Telegram accounts so that the government does not revoke their licenses or damage their reputations.

Creating Social Support Networks

Some of the respondents revealed that they created support networks of fellow scientists, physicians, lawyers and politicians with similar views and opinions. These networks were used not only to exchange information, but also to receive support and empathy from “outsiders” like them, to make new friends and create a new community.

Developing Alternative Medical and Health Information Systems

Beyond their activities in disseminating information and data, some of the respondents noted that they are working to establish new alternative platforms and organizations dedicated to developing and providing health information and medical treatments— including new journals and nonprofits, instead of the existing ones, which they claim have failed and disappointed. They explain this as a means of coping with the censorship and suppression they experienced due to their opposing positions, which grant them a sense of hope and a feeling that they are building “a new world.”

Discussion

The censorship tactics reported by our respondents are consistent with those identified in Jansen and Martin’s (2015) framework on the dynamics of censorship, including:

1. Cover-Up—Our findings show that this tactic was very prominent, which is not surprising, since, as Jansen and Martin noted, if people aren’t aware of censorship, they are not upset about it. The cover-up tactics included various methods. For example, using third-party sources such as other doctors or “fact-checkers” to discredit dissident scientists and doctors. Since these sources are portrayed as independent, they help mask the real sources behind the censorship.

2. Devaluation—This tactic was described by our study respondents and included various aspects, such as publishing false and disparaging claims about them, dismissing them from work in academia or medical institutions, and stripping them of various senior positions—all actions that were felt by our respondents to be intended to undermine their credibility and legitimacy. The tactic of devaluation, also known as a “negative campaign” or a “smear campaign,” is often used by corporations, and its aim is to harm the reputation of an individual or a group (Griffin 2012; Lau and Rovner 2009). Smear campaigns help distract public attention from the content of the targets’ message and deflect the discussion from the criticism or allegations raised and instead focus the attention on those raising these allegations.

3. Reinterpretation—This tactic involves framing censorship as a means of “protecting the public” from the dissenting doctors and scientists, portraying them as “misinformation spreaders” endangering public health in a time of crisis. This framing echoes attempts by policymakers in other areas to justify censorship by arguing that contradictory information might confuse the public and cause panic (Clarke 2002; Frewer et al. 2003; Sandman 2007; Gesser-Edelsburg and Shir-Raz 2016).

4. Official Channels—As our respondents described the censorship actions taken against them were only part of a wider range of silencing and repressive actions, which also included formal proceedings, such as investigating or withdrawing their medical licenses, suing them or ordering a police search of their homes.

5. Intimidation—The respondents interpreted all the above tactics as being intended to intimidate and deter them from continuing to publish their views and criticism, and also single them out in a way that implicitly invites harassment by others and serves as an example to other doctors and scientists. Some of our respondents noted they were intimidated to the point they felt it necessary to use an assumed name to continue operating on social media and/or avoid putting their names on papers they co-authored.

So you ask, “why didn’t more physicians stand up and object?”

Because the entire profession has been subjected to the most aggressive and coordinated propaganda, censorship, and defamation campaign the modern Western world has ever seen.

And still some persevered.

Saint Augustine, the doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, famously said “The truth is like a Lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”

Reposted from Substack

Author

  • Robert Malone

    Robert W. Malone is a physician and biochemist. His work focuses on mRNA technology, pharmaceuticals, and drug repurposing research. You can find him at Substack and Gettr


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