How government officials used media as a propaganda tool to silence dissenting voices during the pandemic.
Robert Nelson, MD
February 23, 2022
For generations, medical professionals and researchers have embraced the expectation of vigorous debate about the merits of clinical data, treatments and interventions. The shared goal usually, despite often disagreeing on the approach, was to optimize the best outcome for patients. An unspoken principle that stood preeminent within the context of those exchanges held that individuals retained the right of choice to participate or reject any medical intervention.
Unfortunately, we have witnessed the systematic erosion of these foundational paradigms within the politically charged milieu of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, being replaced by misguided ideological dogma which prioritizes the profits of the medical-industrial complex and the power of bureaucracy over concerns of public health and individual rights.
The new catechism of the pandemic is a narrative crafted and disseminated by those in the highest echelons of the Public Health establishment. Enter Francis Collins to the story, then Director of National Institutes of Health. In early October 2020, three accomplished researchers in public health, epidemiology and infectious disease drafted a non-radical document called the Great Barrington Declaration while attending a conference in Great Barrington, MA sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research. While critical of the unintended consequences of lockdowns, the premise of the GBD was based on the notion of Focused Protection.
The aim of focused protection is to minimize overall mortality from both COVID-19 and other diseases by balancing the need to protect high-risk individuals from COVID-19 while reducing the harm that lockdowns have had on other aspects of medical care and public health. It recognizes that public health is concerned with the health and well-being of populations in a broader way than just infection control.
The trio, Martin Kulldorff (formerly) of Harvard, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, all well-published and accomplished researchers would subsequently be targeted for ridicule and professional reputation destruction and henceforth referred to as “fringe epidemiologists”, as dubbed by Collins.
An email, subsequently obtained by a FOIA request, sent on October 8, 2020 by NIH Director Francis Collins to Anthony Fauci leaves no doubt how these alternative viewpoints were to be handled. They were not to be tolerated or debated; instead, he ordered a “quick and devastating published take down of its premises.”
Collins emailed Fauci again on October 13 to crow about calling the authors “fringe” in the Washington Post and that his remarks would not be appreciated by the White House. Fauci reassured Collins that the WH was too busy with other issues to worry about it.
The GBD was mocked often in the press, claiming the authors were “arguing with the past” since lockdowns had eased considerably in the U.S. by the time the GBD was written. Yet within a month the lockdowns were being reinstituted because of a surge in new cases.
Talking heads and arm-chair experts online and on numerous sympathetic pro-Fauci broadcast outlets scoffed at the GBD premise calling it anti-science and painting the authors as irresponsible and fringe. Then the partisans on social media and the blogosphere joined in, picking up their digital torches and pitchforks to take down the blasphemers.
And so, it began. The three accomplished and well-credentialed researchers, never considered anything but mainstream before the pandemic, were reclassified as enemies of the state-sponsored pandemic salvation message. Their professional bona fides would be impugned, their message distorted, and their supporters dehumanized by the propaganda machine of big media marching in lockstep with their government sources.
The idea of Focused Protection proposed as a reasonable alternative between the collateral damage posed by lockdowns and the irresponsibility of a laissez faire approach was intentionally suppressed. A well-planned and orchestrated effort on multiple fronts ensured that otherwise reasonable public policy alternatives would not be debated in public forums along side the Faucian orthodoxy. And we had good evidence as early as June 2021 that lockdown and shelter-in-place strategies did not reduce excess mortality compared to less restrictive voluntary measures; yet there was no acknowledgement or mia culpa from health authorities.
And what makes the GBD takedown even more egregious is that there was no science to support the lockdowns, only a myopic focus on unproven containment strategies and no plan, and often no concern, for the negative fallout. Despite a lack of historical credibility or scientific evidence, the acceptance of Faucian doctrine took hold and support for lockdowns was strong in many regions in the country and in most “blue” states with Democrat Governors. Eight states with the strongest lockdown policies saw their unemployment numbers hit 4% or more and the restrictive interventions did not have a statistically significant effect on quelling the virus. Various other States took less restrictive approaches. These non-conforming States provided a timely comparison serving as a kind of control group and have demonstrated lower unemployment. A study from Harvard University and Brown University showed that government lockdown hurt those that could least afford it.
“A new data analysis from Harvard University, Brown University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation crunches the numbers on how different levels of employment have been impacted during the pandemic to date. The findings reveal that government lockdown orders devastated workers at the bottom of the financial food chain but left the upper tier actually better off.”
A later addition to the tenets of the Faucian faith would include an unwavering endorsement of the COVID vaccines used as a litmus test to determine fitness for professional standing and employment for healthcare workers; many of whom objected to mandatory vaccination for an illness from which they recovered. Scores of healthcare workers eventually lost their jobs for taking a stand against coercive vaccine mandates. A sizable number of these same workers became infected with COVID prior to the vaccine while taking care of COVID patients. They worked for months unvaccinated, only to be let go when most hospitals adopted mandated vaccine policies using the American Hospital Association endorsement of a vaccine mandate as cover. Over the course of the pandemic multiple professional healthcare organizations, most large healthcare systems, teacher’s unions, many corporations and various levels of government canonized and adopted this doctrine.
Fast forward to winter of 2022 and Omicron. Despite all we now know about the benefits and role of natural immunity and the limitations of the vaccine against Omicron, the Faucian faithful remain at odds with anyone who has concerns about vaccine safety or anyone favoring targeted use of the vaccine in the most at-risk populations. This intransigence was exacerbated by the CDC’s record of being less than transparent with the public about the importance of natural immunity and the limitations of the vaccine.
The divisions between the lockdown faithful and the reformation movement, led by the authors of the GBD and millions of brave independent thinkers, has been reinforced by the MSM and social media outlets by de-platforming outspoken individuals and digitally burying information to keep it from being shared. Posts of credible studies related to the superiority of infection-derived immunity and the diminished ability of the vaccine to prevent infection and prevent spread were often removed for undisclosed violations of professional standards or labeled as misinformation.
Throughout the pandemic data has been routinely weaponized by adding propagandized spin, being rejected or embraced based on its origins, instead of rising or falling on the quality of the data and strong analysis.
This unnecessary and damaging riff between healthcare professionals, sometimes extending between members of the same family, was spawned by a political agenda and driven by greed for power and influence. It was a planned, coordinated and orchestrated scheme to silence debate on alternative public health policies put forth by well-credentialed professionals which ran counter to the official agency’s messaging. This type of state-sponsored, media-driven censorship should have never happened, but now we know a little more about how and why it did.
As Mark Twain said, “It is easier to fool the people, than to convince them they have been fooled.”