During the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Amazon apparently succumbed to pressure from the White House to suppress books critical of COVID-19 vaccines and to outright ban others.
The revelation comes from a trove of emails released by the House Judiciary Committee between the multinational tech giant and the Biden White House’s senior COVID-19 advisor, Andrew Slavitt.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) posted the emails on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The range of emails published begins on March 2, 2021, when Slavitt sent Amazon a one-sentence email from his White House account suggesting that the administration had concluded that Amazon was deceiving the public.
“Who can we talk to about the high levels of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation of Amazon?” Slavitt asked.
According to subsequent emails, the White House was displeased because Slavitt ran his own word search in Amazon for “vaccines” and was displeased when the search returned results that included an unidentified book that was apparently critical of the COVID-19 vaccine. Slavitt questioned why Amazon did not attach a CDC warning to such books.
The COVID-19 advisor’s emails spurred internal discussions at Amazon on how best to placate the White House. Initially, “manual intervention” into the search results was ruled out for being “too visible.” As search results are dependent on customer preferences, Amazon also could not remove that “customer behavior associations” factor as it would “break the search.”
At least internally, the company considered reasoning with the White House, contending that Amazon differs from other tech giants like social media platforms because it is a retailer.
“As a retailer, we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable,” it was pointed out in an email.
However, a week later, that stance seemed to have disappeared, with Amazon acquiescing to “pressure from the White House” to meet with its COVID Task Force and determine if the federal government wanted the books blacklisted, suppressed, or both. The same day the meeting was scheduled, Amazon began artificially suppressing books that questioned the efficacy of vaccines.
Amazon informed the White House, “[W]e did enable Do Not Promote for anti-vax books whose primary purpose is to persuade readers vaccines are unsafe or ineffective on 3/9, and will review additional handling options for these books with you.”
In a subsequent email three days later, Amazon referred to other steps it could “take to reduce the visibility of these titles,” again reiterating “feeling pressure from the White House Taskforce on this issue as well.”
Slavitt was the figure identified by Elon Musk as having pressured Twitter to suppress posts opposing COVID-19 vaccines prior to his purchase of the company. He was also the White House official who demanded Facebook censor vaccine criticism, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Slavitt was issued a subpoena by the Judiciary Committee to testify on January 31, but the White House instructed him not to appear, The Washington Examiner reported.
In a letter to Slavitt’s attorney and the Judiciary Committee, White House counsel Richard Sauber said, “To protect the constitutional separation of powers and the institutional interests of the White House, I write to inform you that the White House does not authorize Mr. Slavitt to appear at the Committee’s scheduled deposition.”
The revelation that the Biden administration used yet another private entity — in this case, Amazon — to censor speech has some calling on Congress to act and impeach the sitting president.
“Back in 2021, The Biden Administration told Amazon to blacklist books about Covid 19 and vaccine misinformation. I thought Republicans were the only ones banning books. Impeach Joe Biden immediately,” Jasmine Mihu, co-host of Let’s Talk About It, posted on X.