Google’s YouTube has stepped up its draconian censorship of a sitting U.S. senator.
The powerful video-sharing company removed a video of a speech given by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and banned him from uploading new videos for at least seven days. The action took place several months after YouTube removed two videos of testimony given at a hearing he hosted of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the topic of early treatment of COVID-19.
In the video YouTube censors are prohibiting the public from viewing, Johnson took bureaucrats in the Trump and Biden administrations to task for “not only ignoring but working against robust research [on] the use of cheap, generic drugs to be repurposed for early treatment of COVID.”
While large pharmaceutical companies and their allies in government bureaucracies and the World Health Organization have focused their research and funding on new treatments for the novel coronavirus, some doctors and studies have argued for the use of drugs that have been on the market for decades. The patents for the drugs have expired, meaning they are now manufactured by multiple companies who would share in the profit. Therefore trials involving the drugs have to be funded by the government and private donors.
Johnson noted that he held two hearings on early treatment for COVID-19. He said one of the people testifying at one of the hearings talked about “the four pillars of pandemic response,” those being prevention of the spread of the virus, early treatment, treatment in the hospital, and vaccines.
“It always baffled me that there was such a concerted effort to deny the American public the type of robust exploration research into early treatment early in this pandemic,” Johnson said, explaining why he wanted to bring more focus to that topic. He noted that studies have shown that “both hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin” are “incredibly safe” drugs.
Both drugs have been on the market for decades and are recommended for various uses, such as Lupus and scabies. Currently, the National Institutes of Health recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, after a study showed it did no harm but did not provide benefit. NIH is currently neutral on the use of ivermectin for COVID-19, a shift from a previous recommendation against its use.
While most pharmaceutical companies and countries funding research aren’t evaluating the two drugs for robust study, some recent studies have buttressed defenders’ hope in the treatment. See, for example, this study awaiting peer review on positive outcomes associated with multi-drug treatment including hydroxychloroquine, and this similarly not-yet-reviewed study out of Argentina on ivermectin.
YouTube said it was censoring discussion of the drug as part of its policy against “medical misinformation,” which says it won’t allow anything that “contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19.”
WHO scientists and other local authorities have changed their position on whether masks are ineffective or need to be doubled up, whether a vaccine could be developed in a few months, whether asymptomatic spread was a problem, whether spread occurred via infected surfaces, whether children were at significant risk from the virus, whether the economic lockdown would require only “15 days to flatten the curve” or more than a year, and whether the novel coronavirus appeared naturally or accidentally leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
YouTube’s position is that content on the site must parrot whatever comes from its narrow set of authorities, even though their positions change frequently and dramatically as more is learned about the novel coronavirus.
YouTube has left uncensored a lengthy video chat between Bret Weinstein and Dr. Pierre Kory, a prominent advocate of treating COVID-19 patients with ivermectin. The duo discussed the topic of the censorship of debate and discussion on effective treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Weinstein said, “There is something about the mindset of the moment in which it’s all about peer review and these published peer-reviewed papers and it’s all about the ‘official guidance’ from the WHO and the CDC. It’s basically a kind of intellectual authoritarianism that is so bizarre in the context of a complex system like medicine, especially in the context of a brand new disease that we’re all not experts in. There are no experts that we can simply default to. Everyone is a novice.”
In the censored video, Johnson said he supports Operation Warp Speed, which fast-tracked vaccines, but that more is needed with regard to early treatment for COVID-19 patients. “I thought it was brilliant the way the Trump administration squeezed all of the economic efficiencies out of producing the vaccine, but I think we’re still going to need early treatments” since the coronavirus isn’t going away, he said.
He noted that some “world-renowned experts … have come to a different conclusion than our health agencies” and that the health agencies had “pretty well sabotaged the ability for many doctors to even consider hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, or other of these multi-drug generic repurpose drug approaches here.”
When YouTube censored videos of Senate testimony, Johnson wrote for the Wall Street Journal about it. “The censors at YouTube have decided for all of us that the American public shouldn’t be able to hear what senators heard. Apparently they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives. They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed, and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies. Government-sanctioned censorship of ideas and speech should frighten us all,” he wrote.
In April, Google pulled a video of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 18 discussing COVID-19 with medical scientists Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Scott Atlas, who all hail from elite institutions — Stanford University, Harvard University, and Oxford University.
“For science to work, you have to have an open exchange of ideas,” Bhattacharya said of the censorship. “If you’re going to make an argument that something is misinformation, you should provide an actual argument. You can’t just take it down and say, ‘Oh, it’s misinformation’ without actually giving a reason. And saying, ‘Look it disagrees with the CDC’ is not enough of a reason. Let’s hear the argument, let’s see the evidence that YouTube used to decide it was misinformation. Let’s have a debate. Science works best when we have an open debate.”
Kulldorf weighed in as well, saying at an April press conference, “I’m very worried about the future of science because science is dependent on free exchange of ideas and it has been for 300 years now. So if this continues, this kind of attitude, the censoring of scientific views, then I think we have reached the end of 200 years of Enlightenment.”