Is Free Speech Killing Us? FDA Commissioner Declares “Misinformation” a Medical Risk

Last year, we discussed the declaration of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that censorship was needed to combat what he called the “infodemic.” It was a jarring position given the censorship of experts and scientists who have now been vindicated in raising questions over mask protection to natural immunities to school closings to the origins of Covid 19. Nevertheless, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf added his own voice to call for censorship. Califf declared that life expectancy rates are being suppressed due to “misinformation.” His call for action against ill-defined “disinformation” or “misinformation” is being echoed throughout the Biden Administration.

In a CNBC interview,  Califf lashed out at “health misinformation” which he said was one of his top priorities to address through “specific authorities at FDA, FTC and other areas.”

Califf noted:

“You think about the impact of a single person reaching a billion people on the internet all over the world, we just weren’t prepared for that. We don’t have societal rules that are adjudicating it quite right, and I think it’s impacting our health in very detrimental ways.”

He does not elaborate on what would be those “societal rules” for “adjudication” of access to information. However, it holds a familiar ring for free speech advocates.

In recent months, the Twitter Files revealed an extensive and secret effort by the FBI and other agencies to censor citizens on social media. I testified on that effort. New emails uncovered in the ongoing Missouri v. Biden litigation reportedly show that the Biden Administration’s censorship efforts extended to Facebook to censor private communications on its WhatsApp messaging service.

We also know of backchannel communications with the CDC and other agencies. As officials like Califf call for continued crackdowns, there is no recognition of how the government worked to silence opposing views that have been vindicated in recent months.

For years, scientists faced censorship for even raising the lab theory as a possible explanation for the virus. Their reputations and careers were shredded by a media flash mob. The Washington Post declared this a “debunked” coronavirus “conspiracy theory.” The New York Times’ Science and Health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli was calling any mention of the lab theory “racist.”

When a Chinese researcher told Fox News that this was man-made, the network was attacked and the left-leaning PolitiFact slammed her a “pants on fire rating.”

The mask mandate and other pandemic measures like the closing of schools are now cited as fueling emotional and developmental problems in children. The closing of schools and businesses was challenged by some critics as unnecessary. Many of those critics were also censored. It now appears that they may have been right. Many countries did not close schools and did not experience increases in Covid. However, we are now facing alarming drops in testing scores and alarming rises in medical illness among the young.

The point is only that there were countervailing indicators on mask efficacy and a basis to question the mandates. Yet, there was no real debate because of the censorship supported by many Democratic leaders in social media. To question such mandates was declared a public health threat and what the WHO called our “infodemic.”

A lawsuit was filed by Missouri and Louisiana and joined by leading experts, including Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya (Stanford University) and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard University). Bhattacharya previously objected to the suspension of Dr. Clare Craig after she raised concerns about Pfizer trial documents. Those doctors were the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated for a more focused Covid response that targeted the most vulnerable population rather than widespread lockdowns and mandates. Many are now questioning the efficacy and cost of the massive lockdown as well as the real value of masks or the rejection of natural immunities as an alternative to vaccination.  Yet, these experts and others were attacked for such views just a year ago. Some found themselves censored on social media for challenging claims of Dr. Fauci and others.

The media has quietly acknowledged the science questioning mask efficacy and school closures without addressing its own role in attacking those who raised these objections.

What is most striking about Califf’s comments is the failure to address how censorship in the last three years may have increased public health risks by suppressing opposing or dissenting scientific views. Indeed, just this week, a new British study came out directly refuting CDC guidance on masks and suggesting that, while not appreciably reducing the risk of serious Covid symptoms, masks may have caused health problems. Other studies have rejected the mask efficacy argument though this remains a matter of intense debate.

The point is that there is now a debate after social media companies allowed people to discuss these views and the media is no longer labelling dissenters as conspiracists or racists.

Before we continue to make these government efforts a top priority, we should have a public debate over the means used to combat misinformation and what constitutes misinformation. That should start with a full investigation of past government efforts to censor or blacklist individuals or groups.


120 thoughts on “Is Free Speech Killing Us? FDA Commissioner Declares “Misinformation” a Medical Risk”

  1. It’s amazing. The Republican Party is ready to see people die rather that enforce rules regarding lying when selling a product. Why is that? Because lobbyists, billionaires and corporations have more rights that humans do. I get why there is an uproar about free speech in this country. Republicans are happy banning books and call it Freedom but tell a pharmaceutical company or a supplement company or a YouTube doc to stop lying about their products and FREE SPEECH is important. Commercial speech used to be treated differently.

    I suggest dear Professor that you focus on the book banners.

    Republican have gone after scientists, teachers, librarians and doctors when the views they expressed when views they expressed did not align with the Party’s views on the rights of women, civil rights, human rights and more but hey let’s focus on vaccines and the pandemic. Let’s keep churning the vaccines are bad even now when we know that big places Republicans rushed to jump the lines and all of the Fox News higher ups were vaccinated even while they told their audience not to do so. What the heck?

      1. When the facts don’t back up what you say, it means you don’t know what you are talking about. That is why you stay clear of the facts and dive into a poo of meaningless and false rhetoric.

          1. You don’t have alternative facts either. You reside in a fact-less environment where up is down, in the middle, or anywhere. Nothing needs to make sense where you are concerned.

    1. California has removed books from schools by Mark Twain, JD Salenger, and John Steinbeck – because they might offend someone.

      Is that “banning books” ?

      MSNBC, CNN, CBS will not show pages or read from the texts that FL is removing from school libraries.

      If you can not show or read something on the news – it does not belong in a public school.

      If I posted pages from these books here – Turley would block those posts – as would dailyKos

      You talk about “lies” – but it is self evident that YOU are lying.

      You are free to argue that images of Teens engaged in felatio are appropriate for schools, while novels containing the N word are not.
      But that is NOT the norm nor that status quo ante.

    2. We have a hundreds of year old legal system that deals effectively with all kinds of issues regarding the sale of products that result in harms.

      It is called torts, and it is all that is needed.

      If you lie to sell a product – you can be sued for actual and punitive damages – if that misrepresentation harmed someone else.

      Tort law predates the FDA it even predates the United States.

      We do not need to enforce laws regarding lying to sell a product – because we do not need such laws.
      If you can established that you were actually harmed by such a lie, you have a successful tort claim.

      The foundations o tort law go back atleast as Far as Hamurabi.

    3. It is the LEFT that chose to treat commercial speech differently.

      There is no actual difference in rights.

      I would further note that it is the left that has made everything political and it is political speech that enjoys the highest fiest amendment protection.

    4. I am not here to defend republicans – they are the lessor of two evils.

      But you are lying – something that YOU claim warrants censorship. I will stop at criticizing your.

      Republicans do “go after” people they disagree with – we all do that – that too is free speech.

      Do you have Republicans SILENCING people they disagree with – rather than just exercising free speech to criticize them ?
      Do you have Republicans actually using the power of government to infringe on the rights of those they disagree with ?

    5. You are going to try to make claims of vaccine hypocricy ? Really ?

      I have been multiply vaccinated. That was an choice I made based on the information available at the time.
      That choice was applicable ONLY to me. If I was younger or healthier I would have chosen differently.
      Further while I have repeated the knowledge I have regarding the tradeoffs involving vaccines – I have not told others what to do – much less ordered them.

      Based on the information we have available today – my choices were a mistake that increased rather than reduced my risks.

      But I have no regrets. In the real world perfection is not acheivable.

      I never assumed that the advice of CDC or FDA or public health experts was infallible.

      But your ideology requires government infallibility

      You post about lying to sell products – and have the gall to raise the issue of vaccines ?

      Who gets held accountable for the LIES that YOU and our government told us to sell vaccines ?

  2. Covid has less to do with illness and more to do with our inability to sell our debt to foreign countries due to the saturation of their economy with our debt, such as the inability of China to continue to increase its productivity in order to pay for its interest charges from having purchased our debt over the past 50+ years ever since Nixon opened up our commercial avenues with China in the early 1970s.

  3. Americans remember the Biden administration’s brutal embrace of forced vaccinations. A policy that pinned many hard-working Americans between the rock of a coerced vaccination with an unproven vaccine and the hard place of the loss of their livelihoods. As if that’s not bad enough, in some jurisdictions, workers who stood firm in their convictions were punished by the loss of their unemployment benefits.

    Worse yet was the forced vaccination of young people, virtually all of whom faced a negligible risk from Covid. Forced vaccination using a vaccine which is widely known to cause myocarditis. Information that was censored and suppressed for far too long.

    Biden’s unconscionable forced vaccinations were enabled by hysteria, misinformation – or maybe we should just call them lies – and censorship of honest scientific debate by a duplicitous public health establishment, sycophants in the media, and co-conspirators in the tech companies. The members of this unholy trinity are the true masters of misinformation. When will Biden, Anthony Fauci, Robert Califf, and their ilk be held accountable for the consequences of their actions?

    The good news? The truth can only be suppressed for so long:

Leave a Reply