Censored doctors join AGs' lawsuit against feds for Big Tech collusion, new officials sued

Louisiana and Missouri legal effort boosted by revelation of CDC communications with social media companies, DHS whistleblower on Disinformation Governance Board's scope. Suit incorporates new federal threats for not censoring climate, abortion disinformation.

Updated: August 3, 2022 - 11:06pm

The plaintiff list is growing longer in a lawsuit alleging Biden administration collusion with Big Tech in censoring wrongthink on COVID-19, election integrity and Hunter Biden's business dealings.

Three weeks ago, a​ federal court authorized discovery in the case, a First Amendment and Administrative Procedure Act challenge.

Two of the three authors of the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration, Stanford Medicine health policy professor Jay Bhattacharya and vaccine safety pioneer Martin Kulldorff, joined the amended lawsuit filed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri AG Eric Schmitt. 

Also joining were bioethicist Aaron Kheriaty, who unsuccessfully sued the University of California for firing him for not getting a COVID vaccine, and Jill Hines, codirector of Health Freedom Louisiana and a founder of Reopen Louisiana.

All four are clients of the New Civil Liberties Alliance. The public interest law firm is separately trying to resurrect its dismissed Big Tech collusion suit on behalf of other clients by citing the communications between the feds and social media companies recently published by America First Legal, NCLA attorney Jenin Younes told Just the News. 

Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft also joined the AGs' lawsuit, represented by lawyer Jonathon Burns. The five have all experienced "significant" or "extensive government-induced censorship" of their social media speech, the amended complaint says.

The declaration by Kulldorff, a Harvard professor of 10 years until last fall, recounts his experience as a frequent censorship target during the pandemic.

When then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins called for a "quick and devastating published take down" of the "fringe epidemiologists" who wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, it spurred "an organized campaign" that slurred and defamed the authors, he said. 

Google "deboost[ed] search results" for the document days after Collins' directive, Facebook removed its page for a week for calling for age- and risk-based vaccine priority, LinkedIn censored Kulldorff's posts, and YouTube took down his COVID roundtable with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Twitter sanctioned his account for saying naturally immune people don't need COVID vaccines and masks didn't protect elderly people from COVID, and quoting a black studies professor who wrote about "the historical use of enforced mask use among enslaved populations."

"The most devastating consequence of censoring is ... the reluctance of scientists to openly express and debate scientific questions using their varied scientific expertise," he wrote.

Bhattacharya's declaration said Collins' directive produced "a relentless covert campaign of social-media censorship" — against himself and coauthor Suneptra Gupta of Oxford, among others — that was "politically driven by government actors" to protect their narrative that "there was no dissent" on COVID mitigations.

Kheriaty said that although Twitter has repeatedly throttled his account, the platform "drives most of the traffic to my Substack newsletter, which has become a significant source of personal income for me after losing my job at the University — income that supports my wife and five children." 

The COVID-recovered psychiatrist said his "following started growing much faster than usual" after billionaire Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter, but when the deal started "hitting roadblocks, the pattern suddenly reverted and the growth of my following slowed again to the usual snail's pace."

He has also become more careful even speaking about his academic specialty of medical ethics. "The pattern of content censored on these social media platforms mirrors closely the CDC and Biden administration policies," said Kheriaty, who is waiting for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to give him a date for oral argument in the UC firing appeal. 

New federal officials were added as defendants based on the CDC documents published by AFL and an earlier whistleblower who exposed the full intended scope of the Department of Homeland Security's now-shelved Disinformation Governance Board (DGB).

CDC digital branch chief Carol Crawford organized "Be on the Lookout" meetings with social media companies that suggested types of speech to censor and referred Twitter officials to Census Bureau senior advisor Jennifer Shopkorn to get details on misinformation that concerned the feds. 

CDC and Census officials including Crawford and Shopkorn are also believed to have been "onboarded" onto Facebook's special "channel" for reporting misinformation, the suit says. 

DHS Undersecretary Robert Silvers and Senior Counsel for National Security Samantha Vinograd joined their former colleague Nina Jankowicz, the inaugural pick to lead the DGB, as defendants. 

Whistleblower documents showed the board was created to "oversee the massive censorship program" against speech on disfavored topics across the federal government, the complaint says. 

In a Sept. 13 memo to defendant Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Silvers and Vinograd recommended the board's creation to combat "[c]onspiracy theories" about elections and disinformation on COVID's origin and mask and vaccine efficacy. They also noted DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was reporting purported disinformation to social media platforms a year earlier, in the runup to the 2020 election.

The CDC and DHS documents "demonstrate beyond any possible doubt that Defendants are directly involved in and are directing social-media censorship decisions, both by identifying high-level topics of censorship and by identifying specific posts and types of postings for censorship," according to the suit.

They've gone even further since the suit was filed, with another new defendant, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, "publicly demand[ing] that social-media platforms engage in censorship and suppression of speech that contradicts federal officials' preferred narratives on climate change."

Tech platforms must "stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation," she told Axios, thanking Congress for "trying to hold companies accountable" for not censoring more, possibly referring to proposed revocation of Section 230 immunity.

Two days later, the Biden administration announced a new task force to address "gendered disinformation" and "disinformation campaigns targeting women and LGBTQI+ individuals" who are public figures, activists and journalists, which the suit calls unconstitutionally vague.

The task force would recommend "policies, regulatory actions, and legislation" to President Biden "on technology sector accountability to address systemic harms to people affected by online harassment and abuse." 

This was quickly followed by congressional Democrats demanding Google censor and hide results for pro-life pregnancy centers, and Biden signing an executive order directing federal agencies to propose ways to "curb the spread of misinformation related to abortion," the suit says.