On Thursday, House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan subpoenaed two of the White House’s most infamous censorship czars, former White House Senior Advisor for the Covid Response Team Andrew Slavitt and former Director of Digital Strategy for the Biden White House Robert Flaherty.
Both men were ordered to appear for a deposition related to the Weaponization Committee’s investigation “into how and to what extent the Executive Branch has coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech,” the Judiciary Committee wrote in a press release.
Thus far, Slavitt and Flaherty have refused to voluntarily comply with Jordan’s request to appear before his committee, saying through their lawyers that the lawmakers should instead contact the White House. In letters to Slavitt and Flaherty, Jordan stated that the former White House officials’ excuses for not complying with Congress are “unpersuasive.”
The Weaponization Committee’s investigation has largely been informed by the explosive Missouri v. Biden, which exposed several instances of illegal censorship directed by the White House and various federal agencies. The case is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court sometime before the end of next June. Below is a list of just a few instances of censorship directed specifically by Slavitt and Flaherty.
Shadow Banning Tucker Carlson
On April 14, 2021, Slavitt demanded the censorship of a post made by Tucker Carlson because of its “anti-vax message.” Facebook responded by assuring Slavitt that it had “demoted” the post. Despite the shadow banning, Carlson’s post was able to garner 40,000 shares, prompting Flaherty to follow up with Facebook. Flaherty even apparently phone-called a Facebook executive demanding an explanation for the post’s virality. Facebook responded by insisting that the video was given a “50% demotion for seven days and stated that it would continue to demote the video.”
Deplatforming Alex Berenson
On April 21, 2021, Flaherty, Slavitt, and other HHS officials attended a “Twitter Vaccine Misinfo Briefing” with Twitter executives. The invite stated the Biden officials would be briefed on ways Twitter and “the White House could ‘partner’ in product work.’”
During the meeting, White House officials wanted to know why Alex Berenson had not been “kicked off” Twitter, with Slavitt describing Berenson as “the epicenter of disinfo that radiated outwards to the persuadable public.” Berenson was subsequently suspended and later permanently deplatformed.
Removing Vaccine Humor Content
In January 2022, Facebook reported to Flaherty, Slavitt, and other White House officials that it had “labeled and demoted” comedic vaccine posts that may discourage vaccination. Facebook also assured the White House that it “labeled and ‘demoted’ posts suggesting natural immunity to a COVID-19 infection is superior to vaccine immunity.”
‘Immediately’ Banning Biden Family Parody Account
On Feb. 6, 2021, the White House asked Twitter to ban a “parody account linked to Finnegan Biden, Hunter Biden’s daughter and President Biden’s granddaughter.”
“Cannot stress the degree to which this needs to be resolved immediately,” Flaherty wrote. “Please remove this account immediately.” Within 45 minutes, Twitter suspended the account.
“The Committee and Select Subcommittee have obtained documents that demonstrate the central role that Slavitt and Flaherty 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,” the Judiciary Committee wrote in its statement. “Testimony from Slavitt and Flaherty will inform the Committee’s and Select Subcommittee’s legislative reforms aimed at preventing the Executive Branch from wielding its immense power to pressure social media platforms to censor disfavored viewpoints.”