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White House Forced YouTube to Censor COVID-19 “Misinformation,” Internal Documents Reveal

One year ago, a highly contentious situation arose when former X CEO Elon Musk released the “Twitter Files,” which revealed that President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice and White House had colluded with previous Twitter management to exert censorship upon individuals who held conservative political views.

This led to an influx of pressure from the Biden administration on Meta to change its internal policies, followed by further internal documents being unearthed from Google (which owns YouTube) demonstrating that Biden had also pressured the company into censoring Americans from spreading alleged “misinformation” related to COVID-19 and vaccinations.

On Thursday, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) held a live hearing concerning this issue of social media censorship.

Jordan further remarked on a lengthy thread regarding the collusion of leading tech companies and major governments, “Here is the initial installment of the YouTube Files. We were aware that the Biden Administration was prompting Facebook and Twitter to impose more censorship. Now we are cognizant that the White House consistently applied pressure on Google to censor material on YouTube.”

Documents obtained from a reliable source close to the committee indicate that the White House sought to suppress vaccine skepticism.

On April 12, 2021, Rob Flaherty, Biden’s director of Digital Strategy, contacted Google to inquire about ways to combat “misinformation” related to vaccines and explore potential partnerships in product development.

Flaherty has since resigned from his position in the administration in order to become deputy campaign manager for Biden’s 2024 presidential re-election bid.

A subsequent internal email from Google indicated that Flaherty was particularly keen on understanding their decision-making process regarding content which is not considered a violation of their Community Guidelines but may be questionable. Subsequently, Google provided the White House with a list of videos removed due to COVID-19 vaccine “misinformation” concerns.

An email from YouTube stated that there was “a very high degree of interest now coming from the White House regarding vaccine misinfo/vaccine hesitancy and our work around borderline content.”

Furthermore, it noted that tech companies are likely soon to face intense scrutiny as the supply of vaccines soon outpaces demand.

“Over the last several weeks, the Google & YT GAAP team have had conversations with the White House staff on YouTube’s policies and all the great work that is being done to raise authoritative information and fight harmful misinformation related to COVID-19 misinformation,” the communication further read.

The following day, the Government Affairs team of YouTube sent an internal mail to the product team in order to bring attention to the interactions with the White House.

The email read:

“We are hoping to get a formal agreement in place within two weeks in order to avoid any further complications.” The team then inquired whether or not the product team would meet directly with White House staff and demonstrate how many censorships they have enforced on their behalf, as “White House personnel still had queries regarding the ‘raise/reduce’ measures taken against ‘misinformation’.”

In response, Jordan promised that his committee will continue their investigative work in order to give legislative resolutions towards government censorship operations.

He also mentioned that Sen. Rand Paul and some House Republicans proposed legislation which would provide victims of censorship rights to sue those responsible for eliminating their constitutionally protected speech.

Jordan immediately issued a subpoena to Flaherty, requiring him to testify about his actions to pressure digital platforms to censor content at the committee hearing on January 11th. The Ohio solon’s legally binding demand for testimony necessitates that Flaherty appear before the committee and answer their questions.

“The committee was able to obtain documents that demonstrate the central role you played in communicating the Biden White House’s censorship efforts to social media companies, including the White House’s demands to censor true information, memes, satire and other constitutionally protected forms of expression,” Jordan said in the letter to Flaherty. “Your testimony will inform the committee’s legislative reforms aimed at preventing the Executive Branch from wielding its immense power to pressure social media platforms to censor disfavored viewpoints.”

The Republican state attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration, claiming that it was infringing upon Americans’ First Amendment free speech rights.

Documents uncovered in this case demonstrate that senior Biden adviser Michael Flaherty and his team attempted to pressure Facebook and Twitter to restrict the spread of purported “misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines. Despite repeated invitations to testify, both Flaherty and former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to appear in court.

In July 2021, Psaki stated that the administration had tried to “flag” content for removal without success.

The pending Supreme Court case is based on a lower court ruling which seeks to limit government action aimed at silencing disfavored speech.

Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled.

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Joe Messina

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