Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loves misinformation about COVID and its vaccines, so it's no surprise that it has embraced longtime COVID misinformer Alex Berenson -- even invoking his status as a former New York Times reporter in a bizarre attempt to build his credibility (even though the MRC has a blogger devoted almost exclusively to trying to discredit the Times). So it was inevitable that he would be folded into the MRC's "censorship" victimization narrative -- despite the fact that the Atlantic has documented how Berenson has been wrong about much of the pandemic, going so far as to call him "the Secretariat of being wrong."
In June 2020, Alexander Hall hyped that Amazon briefly banned sale of a book Berenson wrote on the pandemic, making sure to call him a "former New York Times reporter." In December, Kayla Sargent gave Berenson full entry in the MRC's victimhood pantheon:
Conservatives have long bemoaned the lack of viewpoint diversity in the discussion surrounding COVID-19, but for one Wall Street Journal columnist, the issue is personal.
Former New York Times reporter and author Alex Berenson claimed in a recent article for The Wall Street Journal that Amazon “has twice tried to suppress” several booklets that he wrote about COVID-19.
“Like the scientists who wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, I simply believe many measures to control the coronavirus have been damaging, counterproductive and unsupported by science,” wrote Berenson.
As we've noted, the Great Barrington Declaration pushed "herd immunity" to COVID -- something most virus experts disagreed with -- and it was so poorly vetted that the declaration includes fake names.
Joseph Vazquez touted Berenson echoing the MRC's victimhood narrative on Fox Business in a March post:
Author and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson joined Fox Business to sound the alarm on the amount of power that Big Tech wields over the flow of information.
Berenson slammed Big Tech companies like Facebook for wanting it “both ways.” Specifically, if Big Tech companies were utilities, they would not be held liable for “every bit of speech” across their platforms, but at the same time that would mean they “can’t censor anything,” Berenson said. Regarding opinions and factually inaccurate information, Berenson asked on the March 25 edition of Mornings with Maria: “Do we want these companies in the business of deciding what’s factually accurate, what isn’t? Do we want them fact-checking, which Facebook increasingly does?” He continued: “Do we want [Big Tech] — you know — destroying large groups that come together for causes that some people may not like, or many people may not like? I think that’s a really bad idea.”
Berenson said that the Big Tech behemoths needed to decide: “Are they publishers, where they’re responsible for everything, or are they utilities where essentially they’re not responsible for anything, unless it’s clearly illegal?”
It sounds like Berenson simply wants to get away with pushing misinformation -- not that Vazquez will tell his readers that misinformation is what he's known for.
When Twitter banned Berenson for his repeated COVID misinformation, Gabriela Periseau devoted an Aug. 30 post to inducting him into the "censorship" hall of fame, while also taking the MRC dodge by admitting only that he served up "alleged misinformation":
Former New York Times journalist and author, Alex Berenson, said in a recent statement that he “expected this day was coming.” Twitter “suspended” his account for alleged misinformation.
Fox News reported that Twitter “permanently suspended” Berenson, for his alleged “repeated violations of [Twitter’s] COVID-19 misinformation rules.” Twitter has temporarily restricted Berenson’s account on multiple occasions for his outspoken criticism of how the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled. In “the tweet that did it,” as Berenson described it, he claimed that the controversial COVID-19 vaccines should not be thought of as vaccines but rather as “therapeutic[s].”
Berenson posted a purported picture of his final tweet in his online Substack newsletter, Unreported Truths. “[The COVID-19 vaccine] doesn’t stop infection or transmission,” read the tweet. He added, “[d]on’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it - at best - as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it?”
Pariseau did not mention Berenson's long history of pushing COVID misinformation.]
The next day, Hall returned to promote Fox News' Tucker Carlson encouraging Berenson to sue Twitter over his suspension (for, yes, "alleged misinformation"), adding that "Berenson has good reason to criticize Big Tech for being too quick to censor when stories are still developing." Like Pariseau, Hall didn't mention that much of what Berenson wrote in this "developing" story has been wrong; instead, Hall dishonestly framed the issue by claiming that "Twitter has temporarily restricted Berenson’s account on multiple occasions for his outspoken criticism of how the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled." Hall also oddly failed to mention that Carlson offered to fund a possible Berenson lawsuit against Twitter.
Needless to say, Berenson's suspension is such an alleged coup for the MRC's victimhood narrative that it made the list of August's "WORST Censorship," Like his MRC co-workers, author Casey Ryan made sure to identify Berenson as a "former New York Times journalist" and declined to mention Berenson's long history of misinformation.