The Biden administration has repeatedly engaged in questionable conduct as it relates to the First Amendment. But if the story about its treatment of journalist Alex Berenson is accurate, it is abundantly clear that the White House is a fierce enemy of free speech.
Berenson posted a tweet on Friday accusing the administration of coercing Twitter to ban his account. The journalist has been a vocal critic of the White House’s COVID-19 response, and he believes the move was to retaliate against him for taking the administration to task.
In August 2021, Twitter permanently banned Berenson for supposed “repeated violations” of the platform’s rules against COVID-19 misinformation. Translation: The company kicked Berenson off the platform for failing to adhere to the Democrat-approved narrative regarding the coronavirus and vaccines. In response, the journalist filed a lawsuit against Twitter.
Berenson said on Friday that he obtained internal Slack messages sent between Twitter employees from the lawsuit. The discussion centered on a meeting with President Joe Biden’s team last year. One Twitter employee said the administration’s questions were “pointed” and that “mercifully, we had answers.”
Another employee said, “They had one really tough question about why Alex Berenson hasn’t been kicked off the platform.”
“They really wanted to know about Alex Berenson,” according to one of the screenshots. “Andy Slavitt suggested they had seen data viz [visualization] that had showed he was the epicenter of disinfo that radiated outwards to the persuadable public.”
Hey @ASlavitt, remember how you tried to use the power of the federal government to deplatform me?
Time to lawyer up pic.twitter.com/lAex3UvxzP
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) August 12, 2022
Slavitt was serving as a senior COVID-19 adviser in the White House at the time the Slack conversation took place.
“According to an interview he gave to the Washington Post in June 2021, Slavitt worked directly with the most powerful officials in the federal government, including Ron Klain, President Biden’s chief of staff, and Biden himself,” Berenson wrote on his Substack.
Another employee said that he did not think any of Berenson’s tweets were “violative” after having “taken a pretty close look at his account.”
Berenson wrote, “On July 16, 2021, President Biden complained publicly that social media companies were ‘killing people’ by encouraging vaccine hesitancy. A few hours after Biden’s comment, Twitter suspended my account for the first time.”
This was a reference to the controversy over the Biden administration pressuring companies like Twitter and Facebook to step up their efforts to suppress opinions that did not align with the Democrats’ narrative on COVID-19.
Twitter banned Berenson’s account about four months after the meeting. The offending tweet used for the suspension read: “[The vaccine] doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it – at best – as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it? Insanity.”
Twitter eventually settled the lawsuit with Berenson and reinstated his account in July. The company acknowledged that the journalist’s tweets “should not have led to his suspension at that time.”
Berenson also said that “The documents contain other revelations, including emails showing that other reporters asked Twitter to take action against me” and promised to “report on those in the future.”
The journalist also indicated that he might take legal action against Slavitt.
“Remember how you tried to use the power of the federal government to deplatform me?” He tweeted, “Time to lawyer up.”
“This is state action and a violation of my First Amendment rights, period,” Berenson continued. “Berenson v. Biden (and Slavitt), coming soon to a federal court near you.”
This is only the latest in a series of examples of the Biden administration using its position to crack down on conservative opinions on the internet. Democrats have no problem with using the government to suppress content that contradicts their agenda and this is a prime illustration of that fact. In Berenson’s case, it worked out. But for those who can’t afford expensive lawsuits, the White House’s censorious efforts are effective, which further compounds the problem.