Sen. Van Hollen: White House Should Be ‘Calling Out’ Republicans on COVID ‘Misinformation’

By Ashlianna Kreiner | July 23, 2021 | 1:52pm EDT
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)   (Getty Images)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) – In reference to the Biden administration working with Facebook to suppress postings it considers “vaccine misinformation,” Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said. “Look, I think everybody should try to figure out a way to get these people to stop spouting misinformation.”

At the U.S. Capitol on July 20, CNS News asked the senator, “Should the Biden administration work with Facebook to suppress postings it considers vaccine misinformation?”

Sen. Van Hollen said, “The fundamental issue here is you have—the fundamental issue is that you have people like the governor of Florida, and, you know, Republican-elected officials, who engage in all sorts of misinformation -- if not misinformation then outright things like  selling anti-Fauci merchandise. So, look, I think everybody should try to figure out a way to get these people to stop spouting misinformation.”

CNS News asked the follow-up question, “And is there any other type of speech the administration should work with Facebook to suppress?”

Sen. Van Hollen replied, “I didn’t say they should suppress speech, that’s not what I said. I said we need to work to try to encourage these individuals to be responsible in their statements. Clearly, if there’s an—as you know not just Facebook, but other social media companies are doing it—when there’s, you know, outright information about vaccines, they are taking those down, right, that’s their policy. So, I do think the administration should be calling out the Republican elected officials who are spreading this information, that’s who they should be calling out.”

Last week, the Biden administration admitted that it is working with Facebook to suppress certain posts on the social media platform that contain alleged “vaccine misinformation.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

When asked about the posts on July 16, Biden said, “They’re killing people. … The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people."

Also on July 16, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is “in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as [U.S. Surgeon General] Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.”

“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office,” said Psaki.  “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”

“You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others, uh – if you – for providing misinformation out there,” she said.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Psaki then explained four suggestions the White House has given to Facebook and commented, “We engage with them regularly and they certainly know what our asks are.”

However, Psaki told CNS News during her press conference on July 19 that the White House has “not asked Facebook to block any individual posts,” but the Biden administration “certainly raised where we have concerns about information that’s inaccurate that is traveling out there in whatever platform it’s traveling on.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) commented to Psaki on Twitter, “Her statement makes it abundantly clear they want people banned for simply disagreeing with the government’s pre-approved narrative.”

Transcript

CNSNews.com: “Should the Biden administration work with Facebook to suppress postings it considers vaccine misinformation?”

Sen. Van Hollen: “Sorry?”

CNSNews.com: “Sorry. Should the Biden administration work with Facebook to suppress postings it considers vaccine misinformation?”

Van Hollen: “Yeah, the fundamental issue here is you have—the fundamental issue is that you have people like the governor of Florida, and, you know, Republican-elected officials, who engage in all sorts of misinformation, if not misinformation then outright things like selling anti-Fauci merchandise. So, look, I think everybody should try to figure out a way to get these people to stop spouting misinformation.”

CNSNews.com: “And is there any other type of speech the administration should work with Facebook to suppress?”

Van Hollen: “I didn’t say they should suppress speech, that’s not what I said. I said we need to work to try to encourage these individuals to be responsible in their statements. Clearly, if there’s an—as you know not just Facebook, but other social media companies are doing it—when there’s, you know, outright information about vaccines, they are taking those down, right, that’s their policy. So, I do think the administration should be calling out the Republican-elected officials who are spreading this information, that’s who they should be calling out.”

CNSNews.com: “All right, thank you so much for your time.”  

Van Hollen: “Thank you.”

MRC Store