By Zachary Stieber
White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and other top Biden administration officials have been served with discovery requests after a federal judge ordered the administration to comply with discovery requests stemming from a lawsuit alleging government collusion with Big Tech.
The lawsuit accuses government officials of working with Twitter and other major social media networks to suppress truthful information on multiple topics, including COVID-19.
One example outlined is how Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, held a secret meeting with scientists who soon after tried to discredit the theory that the virus that causes COVID-19 came from a Chinese laboratory. At the same time, Fauci, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the so-called lab leak theory and whose agency funded research at the lab in Wuhan, was exchanging messages with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on how COVID-19 information on social media was handled.
Fauci was told in the request to identify every worker in his agency who has or is communicating with a social media platform regarding content modulation and/or misinformation, to identify all such communications he had, and to identify all meetings he had on the matter with social media platforms.
He was also asked to provide all communications with Zuckerberg from Jan. 1, 2020, to the present, and all communications with platforms related to the Great Barrington Declaration, the COVID-19 strategy authored by Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Sunetra Gupta that Fauci and his former boss, Dr. Francis Collins, criticized publicly and in private.
Discovery requests were also sent to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre; former Disinformation Governance Board chief Nina Jankowicz; Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, the plaintiffs in the suit, also served subpoenas to Meta, Facebook’s parent company; YouTube; Twitter; Instagram; and LinkedIn.
The subpoena compels the platforms to provide documents before Aug. 17, including all communications with Jankowicz and other federal officials.
The documents reference how Jen Psaki, Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, told a briefing in July 2021 that officials are “in regular touch with these social media platforms” and that “we’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”
“We will fight to get to the bottom of this alleged collusion and expose the suppression of freedom of speech by social media giants at the behest of top-ranking government officials,” Schmitt, a Republican, said in a statement.