Big Tech purges anti-lockdown scientists as Rogan defends his interview choices

Claims deemed misinformation last year "are now accepted as fact," popular podcast host says — and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson agrees.

Updated: February 1, 2022 - 11:33pm

The campaign to get Joe Rogan booted from Spotify may have failed for now, but Big Tech appears to be ramping up its COVID-19 "misinformation" crackdown on medical and other figures.

Two permanent social media bans bookended Rogan's interview with mRNA vaccine pioneer-turned-critic Robert Malone, which birthed the trending phrase "mass formation psychosis."

Twitter cited Malone for COVID misinformation shortly before the interview, while LinkedIn "flushed my 30,000 connections and de-platformed me" days after, Malone wrote in his newsletter. "No explanations, no warnings were given." The last complete archive of his page was Jan. 3.

Malone said he had rarely posted anything "controversial" on the Microsoft-owned professional social network due to his brief suspension last summer, which a LinkedIn "senior executive" blamed on the platform's purported difficulty in "detangling complicated, subtle scientific claims."

YouTube reportedly removed uploads of the Rogan episode as well, and Malone and others claimed Google was manipulating search results for "mass formation psychosis" to hide the episode, contrasting the search engine's results with competitor DuckDuckGo.

The censorship has not chastened Malone, who has since claimed he "almost died" following his second Moderna vaccine dose, likely due to a "bad batch."

LinkedIn shut down former Harvard Medical School epidemiologist and lockdown critic Martin Kulldorff's account last week, allegedly reinstating it without explanation several hours after his affiliated Brownstone Institute noted the removal.

It was also Kulldorff's second brush with LinkedIn, which censored two of his posts for purported misinformation last summer. Twitter suspended his account for a month last spring for disputing the protective powers of commonly worn masks — a position that is now mainstream.

The actions suggest "the whole history of the pandemic and the response are being rewritten in real time by Big Tech to cover up what happened, who wrote what and when, and how the thing fleshed itself out in real time," wrote Brownstone Institute founder Jeffrey Tucker.

Neither Malone nor Kulldorff responded to Just the News queries seeking any explanations they received from LinkedIn, and the company didn't respond to queries either.

Google hit Fox News host Dan Bongino on two platforms last week for purported COVID and election misinformation. YouTube banned him permanently for improperly uploading content to one channel while the other was suspended, and Google Ads demonetized his website.

Bongino's show tweeted that it crossed 2.1 million subscribers on YouTube competitor Rumble following Google's actions. He also pulled his podcast from Google and promised pending disclosures "about our efforts to fight back against the totalitarians at Google."

YouTube is also reportedly limiting viewers for livestreams that are "popular" but whose creators have a "limited history" on the platform. 

Anti-censorship group Reclaim the Net claimed the notifications were popping up on streams by so-called freedom convoy truckers protesting Canada's COVID lockdown policies. Google didn't respond to Just the News queries about how the purported policy was being used.

Praise from The Rock

Rogan's interviews with Malone and another scientist skeptical of COVID vaccines, Peter McCullough, prompted a campaign by some scientists to deplatform him from Spotify, which said his podcast was its most popular globally last year.

Veteran musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell notably demanded the removal of their catalogs from Spotify for platforming Rogan. The streaming giant split the baby Sunday, imposing new COVID content warnings that resemble Facebook's without overtly penalizing its cash-cow host.

The "advisory" will point listeners to its COVID hub with "data-driven facts [and] up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources," CEO Daniel Ek wrote.

Rogan responded to Spotify's COVID content warnings in a 10-minute Instagram video Sunday supporting the new rules but defending his interview choices. 

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McCullough is "the most published physician in his field [of cardiology] in history," while Malone has nine patents related to mRNA vaccine technology, Rogan said. Both spoke at the "Defeat the Mandates" march in D.C. last month.

Claims deemed "misinformation" many months ago, such as that neither COVID vaccines nor cloth masks stop transmission, "are now accepted as fact," and the Wuhan lab-leak theory is now considered plausible, Rogan said.

He has also interviewed medical figures aligned with the COVID establishment, Sanjay Gupta and Michael Osterholm, because his goal is having "interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions," he said. What interests Rogan is "how people come to these conclusions and what the facts are."

Actor Dwayne Johnson, long known by his wrestling stage name The Rock, praised Rogan's response. "Great stuff here brother. Perfectly articulated," Johnson commented on the post, saying he looks forward to coming on Rogan's show "and breaking out the tequila with you."

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The attempted cancellation of Rogan has piqued the interest of potential audience members. "Okay, the current hysteria made me download Spotify," University of Iowa law professor Andy Grewal wrote in a tweet thread

If the McCullough interview "is representative, I have absolutely no idea why so many celebrities & coastal elites have lost their minds," he wrote. "I think the media hates Rogan because he actually knows how to interview. He asks great questions. His 'sin' is letting people respond."

The social media purges remain somewhat erratic and prone to reversal depending on public attention, as Kulldorff's reinstatement suggests.

McCullough, formerly vice chief of internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, remains untouched by Twitter and is now using his platform to challenge Spotify about his purported misinformation.

"When I went on with Rogan I brought my laptop and went over my grand rounds slides" of clinical cases, which Spotify is welcome to "adjudicate" with its medical experts, he tweeted Monday

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At the request of Just the News, YouTube also took a second look at non-COVID videos it removed for undisclosed reasons.

It reinstated the channel run by gender-critical activist Alix Aharon, whose Gender Mapping Project secretly records gender clinics admitting they'll perform genital surgeries on minors who identify as the opposite sex.

Aharon told Just the News last week that "all the videos documenting the calls to gender clinics" were restored. YouTube spokesperson Jack Malon said two removed videos didn't violate its community guidelines after all, while two others "were both removed by the channel owner."

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