Biden administration pressured Amazon to censure books that questioned COVID vaccines

Senior Biden administration aides summoned Amazon officials to the White House during the height of the pandemic to discuss “propaganda and misinformation” in books for sale on the retail giant’s website that questioned the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

White House officials “spent a week berating Amazon” in March 2021 over books related to “vaccine misinformation” and asked what steps company officials could take “to reduce the visibility of these titles,” according to Amazon emails released Monday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican.

The Amazon pressure campaign overseen by Andy Slavitt, who was Mr. Biden’s senior adviser on the administration’s COVID-19 task force, appears to have been successful.



On March 9, the same day Amazon officials agreed to meet with Biden administration aides at the White House about its COVID-19 books, Amazon enabled a “do not promote” policy for “anti-vax books whose primary purpose is to persuade readers vaccines are unsafe or ineffective.”

It also weighed policies to “reduce the visibility” of other COVID-related books that the White House opposed.

Amazon officials, the emails disclosed, weren’t worried only about the White House. Internal Amazon emails flagged “negative” stories by the now-defunct Buzzfeed News that highlighted books for sale on Amazon that questioned vaccines.

Amazon officials responded quickly when top Biden advisers contacted them about problematic books for sale on the site.

White House officials flagged one book authored in 2019 by Dr. Vernon Coleman titled “Anyone Who Tells You Vaccines Are Safe and Effective Is Lying.”

The title was discovered in an Amazon search by White House officials, including Mr. Slavitt, who immediately wrote to a top Amazon executive.

“If you search for ‘vaccines’ under books, I see what comes up,” Mr. Slavitt wrote to the Amazon executive. “I haven’t looked beyond that, but if that’s what’s on the surface, it’s concerning.”

In an email dated March 12, 2021, an Amazon official said the company was “feeling pressure from the White House Taskforce” on reducing the visibility of books that questioned the vaccine.

Ahead of the March 9 White House meeting, Amazon’s talking points included finding out whether White House officials were “asking us to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both)?!”

Mr. Jordan said the Judiciary panel and the Judiciary subcommittee investigating the weaponization of government will investigate the matter.

Amazon caved to the pressure from the Biden White House to censor speech,” Mr. Jordan said.

Mr. Slavitt’s name has surfaced in other efforts to censor social media.

Court documents made public in July revealed that Mr. Slavitt and other White House officials leaned on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other sites to remove posts and ban users whose content they opposed. Mr. Slavitt ramped up the effort by threatening the social media platforms with federal action.

Mr. Slavitt also played a role in coercing Twitter to deplatform Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who posted questions, concerns and research about the mRNA-based vaccine’s side effects and weak efficacy.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, officials acknowledge it does not prevent sickness or the spread of the virus. Medical professionals say myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, is a recognized complication from the vaccine, especially in adolescents and young men.

Dr. Coleman, the author of the book flagged by Mr. Slavitt, currently sells dozens of health-related books on Amazon, some of them questioning traditional medicine and vaccines.

He describes himself as a former doctor in the United Kingdom who has sold more than 2 million books and “campaigned on many issues involving both people and animals and has as a result made many enemies among powerful pressure groups defending the interests of drug and food companies.”

Mr. Slavitt announced his departure from the White House in June 2021. 

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