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How Major Media Suppressed My COVID Journalism

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Rav AroraRAV ARORA

The COVID-19 emergency has at last come to an end as even the most restrictive countries — the United States, most recently — have lifted draconian Covid mandates. Freedom has been restored, but the pandemic has left an indelible mark on the bedrock institutions of our society. The corruption of the FDA, CDC, the White House, and Big Pharma has been undeniably exposed — a topic I have exhaustively covered for over a year.

Notably, journalism — the filter through which ordinary people living busy lives come to understand the complex matrix of power, money, and influence — has also been exposed for its bizarre servility to public health decrees and pharmaceutical companies. Writing for the most prominent journalistic outlets since 2020, I saw the decay from the inside. Though I have been hesitant to share my experiences of colliding with the inner machinery of media — for my reputational and financial security — I now feel galvanized to lay it on the table after starting a new Substack with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.

One of the reasons I unexpectedly found myself in the journalism industry was the real possibility of speaking truth to power, presenting radically novel perspectives, and challenging institutional orthodoxy.

My first major forays into the industry were on topics such as how my experiences with racism from childhood inform my view of race relations, how white guilt and identity politics corrupts our discourse, and how 2020 Black Lives Matter riots wreaked havoc in poor, minority communities.

Foreign Policy Magazine (top-left), Maclean’s Magazine (top-right), The New York Post (bottom-left), The Globe and Mail (bottom-right)

Pieces that I’m perhaps most proud of are the explosion of inner-city violence in Minneapolis in the aftermath of George Floyd and the new phenomenon of Asian women out-earning white men in the US.

My heterodoxy and unwavering commitment to the truth — whether that made me look right-wing, left-wing, or just an artsy weirdo (at times) — didn’t land me a weekly New York Times column, but it did grant me spots in a number of top liberal and conservative-leaning outlets, such as the New York Post, the Globe and Mail, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Grammys (yes, the music awards — their online vertical), and others.

Until it didn’t.

Having taken the heretical line on race, gender, policing, I thought I was immunized from editorial censorship. But, as the pandemic became increasingly politicized through 2021 and 2022 with the rollout of vaccines and public mandates, our society seemed to plunge into further collective psychosis, as spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has persipaciously observed.

For the first year-and-a-half of the pandemic, I didn’t take any public stance on what was a complex epidemiological issue requiring legitimate expertise to navigate. Besides, I was regularly writing about race, BLM, and policing in the summer of 2020. Then, in the summer of 2021 Justin Trudeau and provincial leaders announced vaccine mandates across the country. Suddenly, going to the gym, restaurants, and large gatherings was conditional on taking a novel mRNA vaccine for a virus that posed less than a 0.003 percent mortality risk for people my age.

I started to examine whether this was the right medical decision for my health. Upon close scrutiny of the best available data, I came away thinking it was not. I didn’t think the Covid vaccine would be an instant death sentence for me, but I didn’t see clear evidence of benefit for healthy people in their 20s. It also just happened to be the case that I fell in the very demographic that was most at-risk of developing a serious vaccine side effect — myocarditis or pericarditis (cardiac inflammation).

Among the most rigorous, comprehensive data we have on vaccine myocarditis is from Dr. Katie Sharff who analyzed a database from Kaiser Permanente. She found a 1/1,862 rate of myocarditis after the second dose in young men ages 18 – 24. For boys ages 12 – 17, the rate was 1/2,650. Active surveillance monitoring in Hong Kong shows virtually identical figures.

Confused and looking for clarity, I reached out to Dr. Jay Bhattacharya — who was among the most sensible public health policy advocates throughout the pandemic — and he validated my serious concerns of vaccine safety and draconian public health policy more broadly.

Frustrated by the government coercing me into taking a medical procedure that was not in my best interest, I resolved to write about this injustice in the several outlets which had previously published my work.

Right away, I faced tremendous resistance of the kind that I never expected. The rejection I experienced when pitching a wide variety of pieces on Covid mandates — reported, opinionated, based on the views of credentialed scientific experts etc.— was unprecedented. Even editors who I deemed as allies — publishing polarizing pieces such as the “fallacies of white privilege” or why Robin DiAngelo’s last popular racism guidebook promotes a “dehumanizing form of condescension towards racial minorities” — were averse to my work questioning scientifically dubious vaccine mandate policies on the grounds of bodily autonomy and medical freedom.

Many editors explicitly stated their outlets were “pro-vaccine” and didn’t want to run anything that may promote an iota of “vaccine hesitancy” — even in young, healthy groups for which we still have no data on reduction in severe disease or death. One editor responded to my pitch on the lack of epidemiological basis for vaccine mandates with the following:

This paper has been encouraging Covid vaccination for everyone. We don’t want to promote vaccine hesitancy that will get people seriously ill and killed.

Journalists need to be responsible in not sowing distrust in public health guidelines that are meant to keep us safe.

Another editor made it painfully clear after a handful of unsuccessful pitches that the publication as a whole was not keen on publishing anything that deviated from the CDC and FDA’s universal vaccine advisory (vigorously critiqued by the likes of Vinay Prasad and Tracy Beth Høeg MD, PhD.).

I’m going to pass.

As I’ve said many times before, we are a pro-vaccination newspaper, and personally I just wish everyone would get vaccinated already. While I respect your decision not to do so (and I agree jail time for those who don’t is overkill), I’m not keen on op-eds that even appear like they’re arguing against vaccination for Covid or anything else.

Trying to figure out a way to capitalize on a hot news story — as every freelancer learns how to do — I started sending pitches on viral stories of athletes being barred from competition due to their personal choice not to get vaccinated. In response to my proposal on tennis star Novak Djokovic’s debacle, one editor expressed his utter contempt for Djokovic:

In no way do I want a piece supporting people who refuse to get vaccinated. In my opinion, people such as Djokovic, who refuse to get vaxxed, make their own beds and should lie in it.

They are not heroes.

On my pitch about NBA star Kyrie Irving, who had to sit out several games for the Brooklyn Nets because of some undefined risk he posed to society as an unvaccinated player, an editor I was very close with made her profound disagreement undoubtedly clear:

Sorry Rav, but I vehemently disagree with you on this issue. Feel free to pitch elsewhere.

Kyrie Irving refused to help the public get out of the pandemic and now he’s suffering the consequences. It’s on him.

On a couple of occasions, I attempted to cover the perpetually escalating Joe Rogan Covid controversy. In my several pitches, I took various angles such as how many credentialed scientific experts — such as Bhattacharya, Makary, Prasad, and others — were more in line with Rogan’s anti-mandate views than the government and public health agencies were. Here are two editor responses I received when pitching a story on the bizarre controversy of Rogan’s comments that young people in their 20s didn’t need to take the Covid vaccine (May 2021):

Rav, we are not interested in running stories like this.

I think Rogan is actively endangering the lives of children and young adults with his anti-vaccine propaganda — and you need to be more responsible in your coverage as a journalist.


I’m not interested in the Rogan story. It could too easily be construed as anti-vaccine and we want to steer well clear of that.

I don’t want any ambiguity on the issue.

One publication, whose whole mission has been from the start to expose and dismantle institutional orthodoxy, uncritically took the mainstream view on vaccine recommendations as gospel. This editor, who had “platformed” my work explaining the oft-justifiability of police shootings of highly violent, threatening suspects — which, again, was in line with their anti-mainstream view —opposed any view critical of vaccine mandates. In response to one of my pitches on the downplayed risk of vaccine-induced myocarditis in young men, he responded:

Rav, sorry but we’re not going to run any anti-vaccine pieces.

I think the risk is totally overblown and amplified by right-wing pundits who have no concern for public health. These are the safest vaccines we’ve ever had and virtually everyone seeks to benefit.

None of this was based on rigorous scientific analysis — it was all premised on a naive trust in public health authorities and pharmaceutical companies.

As it turns out, the mRNA vaccines are, by all current accounts, the most dangerous government-promoted pharmaceutical products in history. Fraiman and colleagues’ independent analysis of Pfizer and Moderna’s safety data in the medical journal Vaccine shows that mRNA covid vaccines are associated with a 1 in 800 adverse event rate — substantially higher than other vaccines on the market (typically in the range of 1 in a million adverse event rates).

[Note: this study does not negate the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines in reducing death and severe disease in elderly populations (for which we have good data). I personally recommended my grandparents to get vaccinated and was happy they followed through.]

Due to the increasing censorship I faced, I ended up self-publishing my vaccine-myocarditis investigations, including one story on how a 38-year-old law enforcement member in my area almost died from acute vaccine-induced myocarditis after he was forced to get double-jabbed against his will.

At a time when government officials and public health bureaucrats are actively misleading the public, it is the media’s crucial responsibility to hold them accountable. Unchecked power — when unrecognized by the masses — metastasizes and devolves into tyrannical control. This is how you get the FDA approving and recommending the new “bivalent” booster shot to all Americans — as young as 6 months old — based on lab-testing in eight mice (with the White House recklessly advertising on their behalf).

When the media fails, civilization begins to unwind. The powerful get away with more corruption and media homogeneity solidifies, congeals, and becomes increasingly treacherous to question.

This has been my experience over the past two years.

An industry already compromised in the age of Trump and wokeism completely fell apart during a global pandemic. My collisions with this inner machinery are not merely a story of left-wing media bias (a given fact for decades), but — as I alluded to several times — people working in even alternative and right-leaning media spaces refusing to air any form of refutation of authoritarian public health mandates.

This is why traditional left-versus-right paradigms are obsolete. Many “conservatives” bought the public health propaganda wholesale while a number of traditionally progressive thinkers — such as Russell Brand, Matt Taibbi, Jimmy Dore, and Glenn Greenwald (regardless of their personal medical decisions) — vigorously objected to Covid mandates on the basis of foundational, societal principles.

I have largely abstained from sharing my visceral feelings on the demoralizing rejection (and financial loss) I faced for two years as a previously welcomed journalist in major outlets, but suffice it to say I felt incredibly trapped, helpless, vexed, and lost. Some of the aforementioned editors recommended I stick to stories on “cancel culture,” “identity politics,” “race,” and the rest. While all those issues remain deeply concerning, the proposition of being pigeonholed in one specific topic while being censored in another that is far more alarming on a societal level (“Take the jab, or lose your job”) was repugnant to me.

I refuse to be censored.

I won’t perpetually write stories about wokeism spiralling out of control in liberal sectors of society in order to gain clicks and a steady paycheck on conservative websites who want to feed their readers only one narrative.

Today, I am no longer indignant and hopeless, waiting for one of my previous editors to offer me an opportunity again. I have now started my new, independent venture on this platform — The Illusion of Consensus — and am looking forward to bringing new, exciting content to my readers.

Thank you to those who helped share and amplify the several stories I independently wrote on my personal Substack (with a small audience and minimal financial gain) such as Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, and Glenn Greenwald.

As I progress in my ever-evolving journalistic path to expose the truth, I hope you will continue to support my work.

Republished from the author’s Substack

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  • Rav Arora

    Rav Arora is an independent journalist based in Vancouver, Canada.

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Brownstone Institute

Censorship and the Corruption of Advertising

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From the Brownstone Institute

The most powerful companies in the world have united against free speech, and they’ve deployed your tax dollars to fund their mission.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee released a report on the little-known Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and its pernicious promotion of censorship. GARM is a branch of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), a global association representing over 150 of the world’s biggest brands, including Adidas, British Petroleum, Nike, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Walmart, and Visa.

The WFA represents 90% of global advertising spending, accounting for almost $1 trillion per year. But instead of helping its clients reach the broadest market share possible, the WFA has appointed itself a supranational force for censorship.

Rob Rakowitz and the Mission to Supplant the First Amendment

Rob Rakowitz, the leader of the WFA, holds a particular disdain for free speech. He has derided the First Amendment and the “extreme global interpretation of the US Constitution,” which he dismissed as “literal law from 230 years ago (made by white men exclusively).”

Rakowitz led GARM’s effort to boycott advertising on Twitter in response to Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company. GARM bragged that it was “taking on Elon Musk” and driving the company’s advertising income “80% below revenue forecasts.”

Rakowitz also championed the unsuccessful effort to have Spotify deplatform Joe Rogan after he expressed skepticism for young, healthy men taking the Covid vaccine. Rakowitz attempted to intimidate Spotify executives by demanding to hold a meeting with them and a team that he said represented “P&G [Proctor and Gamble], Unilever, Mars,” and five advertising conglomerates. When a Spotify employee said he would meet with Rakowitz but not his censorsial consortium, Rakowitz forwarded the message to his partner, writing “this man needs a smack” for denying his demands.

The WFA extended its efforts to direct manipulation of the news market. Through a partnership with the taxpayer-funded Global Disinformation Index, GARM launched “exclusion lists,” which created de facto boycotts from advertising on “risky” sites, which it described as those that showed the “greatest level of disinformation risk.” These lists included the New York Post, RealClearPolitics, the Daily Wire, TheBlaze, Reason Magazine, and The Federalist. Left-wing outlets, such as the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed News, were placed on the list of “Least risky sites,” which facilitated increased advertising revenue.

GARM, the WFA, and Rakowitz is the latest scandal demonstrating the destruction of our liberties at the hands of consolidated power. Like the Trusted News Initiative or the Biden White House’s censorship efforts, the aim is to remove all sources of dissent to pave the way for the further corporatization of the oligarchy that increasingly replaces our republic.

The WFA’s Attack on Democracy

Just as Rakowitz could not hide his contempt for the First Amendment, WFA CEO Stephan Loerke demanded that his conglomerate overtake the democratic process.

In preparation for the Cannes Lions Festival (a gathering of billionaires and multinational corporations in the South of France every June), Loerke released a statement demanding companies “stay the course on DEI and sustainability.” According to Loerke, these policies must include responses to “climate change” and the promotion of “net zero” policies,” which have already wreaked havoc on Europeans’ quality of life.

Loerke wrote: “If we step back, who will push for progress on these vital areas?” Though he suggests the answer must be nobody, traditionally self-governing countries would charter their own courses in those “vital areas.” And in that paradigm, the corporation would be subordinate to the state.

But instead, the WFA has inverted that system. Through its clients, the trillion-dollar behemoth extracts money from governments and then deploys those funds to demand that we accept their reshaping of our culture. The parasite becomes the arbiter of “progress,” eroding the society responsible for its very existence.

As the WFA sought to punish any groups that criticized the Covid response, its client Abbott Laboratories received billions of dollars in federal funding to promote Covid tests in the US Army. As Loerke demands “net zero” policies that will unravel the Western way of life, WFA patrons like DellGEIBM, and Microsoft receive billions in revenue  from the US Security State.

The organization is fundamentally detached from traditional advertising, which aims to connect businesses with consumers to sell products or services; instead, it is a force for geopolitical and cultural manipulation.

Perhaps no WFA client better represents this phenomenon than AB InBev, the parent company to Bud Light, which destroyed billions of dollars in market value last year after selecting Dylan Mulvaney as the icon for its advertising campaign.

On its surface, the selection of Mulvaney as a spokesman appeared to be the result of an executive class detached from their clientele. But Rakowitz and the WFA reveal a deeper truth; they don’t misunderstand the public, they loathe them.

The organization is a force designed to punish them for their unfavorable, unapproved belief systems. It is an attack on the freedoms written into our Constitution as “literal law from 230 years ago,” as Rakowitz scoffed. The mission is to eviscerate “the right to receive information and ideas,” as our Supreme Court recognized in Stanley v. Georgia, and to make our republic subservient to its corporate oligarchy.

The stakes here are very high. The economic revolution of the 15th century and following was about a dramatic shift in decision-making, away from elites and toward the common people. With that came a wider distribution of property and rising wealth over many centuries, culminating in the late 19th century. Along with that came a shift in the focus of marketing, away from elites and toward everyone else.

The consolidation of advertising and its control by states strikes at the very heart of what free economies are supposed to be about. And yet, states that desire maximum control over the public mind must go there. They must gain full hegemony and that includes advertising. It should be stopped before it is too late to restore freedom over corporatism.

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Brownstone Institute is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.

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Brownstone Institute

Imagine Life without Fossil Fuels

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

By Thi Thuy Van Dinh

At 4 am on Tuesday 9th July in Seville (Spain), I woke up alerted by a text to my phone. “We had a bad night with Hurricane Beryl. Your house still stands and the critters are safe, two big trees down, no electricity, no Internet, and poor phone service.”

My children and I were visiting Andalusia, one of the oldest and most gorgeous European regions, blessed with the best food and the warmest people. This is one of my favorite places on earth, but for now, my family and I are calling South of Houston (Texas, US) home.

I panicked, being instantly seized by maternal instinct. Our entire house is run by electricity. On our return in a few days, there would be no warm food, no milk, no air conditioning, no TV, no running water, no toilet flushing. In town, neither kid activities nor story time at local libraries. These conditions are undoubtedly hard for young children who have only known comfort so far, although hundreds of millions of children are growing up in such circumstances daily.

Then I calmed down. The first thing to do should be thanking God for protecting human lives there, and for our wonderful friends and community.

I understood what happened immediately. Trees have fallen everywhere, taking down most of the grid and affecting more than a million people. It would take a few weeks to fix it. Houston would be first, of course, the crowded and business-minded urban areas will be rightly prioritized and rural areas follow after. After such largesse provided for the solar industry by successive American administrations, why has there been no money to put wires and cables underground in hurricane-prone regions?

We always have a month of canned meat and dry salami, drinking water, olive oil, lard, animal feed (we have some farm animals,) and 750 gallons of water in storage, candles, matches, and flashlights. For emergency situations like a war or a natural disaster. We have a pool conveniently built for Texan summer heat even though the filter won’t work. I can dig a hole in the garden if I want to give the kids some survival training, or I can use the pool water for toilet flushing. Our hens and ducks give us more than enough fresh eggs daily.

But I should have kept a few solar phone chargers and probably some solar panels for our well pump (solely activated by electricity). My husband should have had a better stock of gas to run our generator through the fridge and the two freezers. At least, I can still grill and the kids can help gather dry branches to make a fire and cook camping meals. After all, it is easier to survive without energy in a hot place than in a cold place.

My situation isn’t probably the worst, and I will be able to help some people around me with food and water. I will entertain the kids with games I used to play under the moonlight and the starry sky. However, with little or no gas (petrol) in town, and likely long lines at available stations, I will have to calculate our car trips well.

I told my 7-year-old what happened. He said he would fry eggs on the car and roast marshmallows on sticks. Young children are such marvelous beings. With only their imagination and innocence, they bring wonders to our world. Who knows, we might be lucky enough to catch some fireflies in a jar – I replied, nurturing his excitement. As his mother, I have the duty to minimize his suffering. Nevertheless, I would like to seize this opportunity to give him and his younger sister some duress training on life without fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil to power modern devices – a bit like how I grew up.

Have the international, national, and non-governmental Net Zero crusaders ever lived a day without using any technology powered or facilitated by fossil fuels and their byproducts?

I would like to invite them to live here with us. I will show them that had I had solar panels on my roof, I would likely be cleaning up all of their dangerous debris around the house. Right now, a Tesla would be of less use than an ox cart in my Texan town.

But life at my homestead after Hurricane Beryl seems rather poetic. Well-prepared, a week or two without electricity might equal an ecological or soul-searching retreat with meditation time, good books on a hammock, bird-watching, simple yet exotic farm-to-table meals, and constellation identification.

For a real experience of a life without fossil fuels, climate leaders and activists should consider signing up for the sustainability internship program offered by Mr Jusper Machogu, a Kenyan farmer who was recently attacked by the BBC for his campaign on X requesting “Fossils Fuels for Africa.” Participants will learn how to grow foods without technologies powered by fossil fuels and live with a minimal impact on nature in rural Kisii.

Ploughing the land with bare hands before planting isn’t fun at all. Watering the crops regularly might well bring people closer to God with spontaneous prayers. Weeding or harvesting by squatting under the sun is tough. Even without factoring in any risk of pests, diseases. and unfavorable weather, what are the chances they would have to get out of poverty and food insecurity without cheap, reliable, abundant, and scalable energy?

Billions of subsistence families are still going through this. Worse, they continue to put their health at risk by cooking with agricultural wastes, wood sticks, and cow dung, while the Western world and their investment funds shamelessly demand poor countries and their populations to adopt intermittent, expensive, and unreliable green energies, instead of supporting fossil fuels (as well as hydropower and nuclear) production and infrastructure.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who repeatedly called to “close the door on fossil fuel era” (on International Clean Energy Day – 26 January 2024), would you live entirely and produce your own foods without fossil fuels?

United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Chief Inger Andersen, who, at the closing of the 28th Climate COP (Dubai, UAE), claimed that “we know the solutions, we know what needs to be done,” would you be able to build a town for your staff without using oil, gas, and their byproducts?

How may we, as voters and taxpayers, demand that decision-makers lead by example, truly adhering to their green agenda first, before they insist that others implement it?

Author

Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

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