TWITTER FILES: WHO Censored Itself on Vaccines to Help Twitter Censor Tucker Carlson
Bird factory emails on clipping Tucker Carlson’s wings.
8 minute read
In a revisit to his famed critique of the media “Manufacturing Consent,” MIT’s Noam Chomsky explained in a 2018 interview that money and elites shape and censor the news, ensuring journalistic complicity in protecting corporations and those in power.
“The myth is that the media are independent, adversarial, courageous, struggling against power,” Chomsky said. “That’s actually true of some. There are often very fine reporters, correspondents. In fact, the media does a fine job, but within a framework that determines what to discuss, not to discuss.”
Much of this framework was exposed in a blistering account by a Columbia Journalism Review investigation that documented years of faulty reporting and journalistic failures in coverage of Trump by media outlets including the New York Times and Washington Post—many times in articles that later won journalism prizes. One of the few Americans to challenge the official framework of acceptable narratives was a controversial and polarizing Fox News TV talking head, hated by the mainstream reporters for daring to throw darts at liberal pieties.
Nonetheless, the majority of reporters have shrugged aside their colleagues’ reporting fiascoes and the damage done to their own reputations, and continue to blame most failures in journalism on one person: Tucker Carlson.
So it was not surprising that reporters began a week-long celebration this Monday when Fox fired Tucker. But years before Fox canned him, Twitter Files show that the bird company sought to clip Tucker’s wings when he reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) did not recommend that children get the COVID-19 vaccine.
When Tucker’s June 2021 report on the WHO’s vaccine recommendations hit Twitter, the WHO stealth edited their COVID vaccine page to remove language Tucker cited in his op-ed. The following day, Twitter officials began discussing Tucker’s essay and how to limit its impact without calling attention to Tucker and creating “political risks” for Twitter by directly censoring Fox News.
“Given that this article’s narrative is related to ‘big tech censorship’, I want to be mindful that taking action at the URL level could lead to this particular article gaining more traction rather than mitigating the harm,” emailed one Twitter executive.
Back and forth emails find Twitter officials scrambling to control vaccine information and limit damage to the WHO. According to a previously reported Twitter File, Twitter began helping their client Johnson and Johnson market the pharma company’s COVID vaccine in early 2021 while simultaneously removing tweets for what they called vaccine “misinformation.” In the end, Twitter apparently chose to ignore Tucker’s op-ed itself and annotate tweets for “vaccine misinformation” if the tweet were to “explicitly advance the claims in the op-ed itself.”
The Twitter employee who first brought attention to Tucker’s op-ed was policy communications specialist, Elizabeth Busby. Busby joined Twitter in 2020 after leaving the Senate, where she was deputy national press secretary to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a frequent critic of Tucker Carlson. Busby’s work history includes a stint at SKDKnickerbocker, a PR and lobby shop closely aligned with the Democratic party. Busby now leads “trust and safety communications” at Twitch.
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