Background: On September 13, rap superstar Nicki Minaj tweeted that her cousin was hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine after his friend allegedly suffered adverse reactions. The adverse reactions she mentioned were testicular swelling and impotence.
Given the celebrity’s vast influence (over 158 million Instagram followers), the establishment, media, and big tech appeared worried that her vaccine-skepticism, or wrong-think, would have an impact. Immediately after the tweet, the establishment mobilized to weed it out.
The system’s goal is to make it very hard to speak out against the power structure and its fundamental beliefs. In this instance, the belief is the necessity of vaccinations.
The system operates by shaming, defaming, silencing, and ultimately, achieving a retraction.
Quickly after the tweet, Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC went on air to shame Minaj’s tweet. She claimed that she should use her platform to encourage the community to protect themselves instead of peddling misinformation that could harm people.
It wasn’t just Reid who voiced these concerns. Many prominent voices joined in to shame her with the goal of a public retraction. Fauci joined in with the same rhetoric. Minaj didn’t budge and instead condemned the shaming, so the system moved on to the next step.
Media lying about Minaj: After Minaj’s pushback, outlets ran false headlines about her. The Daily Beast published the headline “Nicki Minaj Won’t Get Vaxxed, Says She’s Worried About Swollen Testicles.” The purpose is clear: paint Minaj as hysterical.
Media threatening to defame her family: In the quest of getting details to cover Minaj negatively, the media went as far as harassing her and her family. A journalist threatened her cousin, saying that CNN was looking for him and would reveal sensitive information about him unless he talked.
Fauci, the medical establishment, and fact-checkers lying about her: Numerous fact-checking outlets, along with public officials, rushed to declare Minaj’s statement to be misinformation.
"There's a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information... she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis,” Fauci said.
As of September 20, 2021, the VAERS database showed 59 reports of testicular swelling related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Mild symptoms like these are highly underreported, so the actual number might be much higher. Regardless, this seems like an extremely unlikely complication.
Does that make Nicki Minaj’s anecdote untrue? It’s impossible to know, but it’s certainly not misinformation. Fact-checkers claim she’s lying because it’s unlikely, not because they know anything about her cousin’s friend’s case.
If character defamation isn’t enough to bring an apology, Big-tech censorship is an obvious option.
Twitter silencing Minaj: Minaj claimed that she was in “Twitter Jail” and could no longer tweet during the controversy. Twitter denied it; however, it’s no secret that Twitter engages in censoring partisans as well as what they deem COVID-19 “misinformation.”
The ultimate goal is a public retraction or an apology. To get there, the White House mobilized its staff to offer Minaj an opportunity to get her vaccine questions answered by the White House.
But there was no full public retraction. Nicki Minaj recommended the vaccine but denounced the societal and corporate bullying surrounding it.