Amazon is selling former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson’s booklet on coronavirus after initially claiming it didn’t meet the online retailer’s guidelines – as help rolled in from the likes of journalist Glenn Greenwald and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who considered the move blatant censorship.
“Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1,” which included an introduction and a section on death counts and estimates, was expected to hit Jeff Bezos’ Amazon on Thursday but Berenson said he woke up to an alarming email.
“They said, ‘we’re rejecting this,’” Berenson told Fox News. “It didn’t say, ‘you can appeal,’ it didn’t say, ‘here is who you should email if you have a question.’ It just said, ‘This is rejected.’”
Berenson responded by launching a protest on Twitter, calling the move “outrageous censorship from a company that gained hugely from lockdown” as millions are forced to shop online.
“I didn’t think my protest would do any good, but I also thought I didn’t have a choice,” Berenson said. “There are a number of journalists who got involved, including Glenn Greenwald, there were people on the left who explicitly said, ‘We think this guy is an idiot and we don’t like him but it’s important that this isn’t censored.’”
Berenson said he’s grateful for everyone who spoke out, but Musk, the tech mogul behind Tesla and SpaceX, probably made the most noise when he called the censoring of the booklet “insane” and called for Amazon to be broken up.
“It was shortly after that that Amazon contacted me and said, ‘We’re going to go ahead and publish this,’” Berenson said.
“Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates” is now available.
Amazon told Fox News it was an “error” and the book shouldn’t have been removed, but Berenson had his doubts.
“They didn’t say to me that it was a mistake… I do believe that I’m not the only person who has run into this. They need to be clear what their position is on publishing controversial material on political issues,” Berenson said. “It doesn’t seem to me that this was an error, but I don’t know.”
Berenson said he’d decided to publish a booklet after months of tweeting about the pandemic, as followers asked for the information to be more organized. He said the information was all sourced to government documents and scientific papers.
“Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1” is the first of a series and Berenson said he hoped to avoid similar issues when the rest of the issues are scheduled for release.
“I don’t want to have to keep fighting,” he said.
Amazon has sold books on everything from controversial political and religious topics to baiting people to catch pedophiles. The online megaretailer also has benefited from the COVID-19 lockdowns that Berenson has criticized.
“Amazon is in a conflicted position here. They have made so much money from these lockdowns, they and Walmart are the two biggest corporate beneficiaries. This idea that they’re just some publishing platform and there is no First Amendment issue around this ... they have benefited from government rules.”
“It’s not clear to me how often this is happening, nor is it clear to anybody outside Amazon,” Berenson added. “If you get rejected this way, it’s not like YouTube where it’s posted and pulled. Nobody ever sees it. They clearly are censoring content related to COVID. Are they censoring content related to other stuff? I don’t know.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a serious of questions, including why Berenson was not informed it was an error.
Berenson said he assumed the mechanism to flag content was automated because of the sheer volume of content Amazon received on a daily basis, but nobody explained the process to him.
“There is no possible way they could have human beings reading all of it,” he added. “There is some kind of automated system going on that’s nontransparent.”
Berenson said he’s happy that Amazon righted its wrong, but frustrated by mainstream media.
“I am very disappointed that more people from The New York Times, where I used to work, didn’t speak up, or the Washington Post... the mainstream media, and I realize this all happened over the course of a few hours, but very few of those people spoke up,” he said.