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Editors of Top Science Journals to Testify Before House Pandemic Committee, as Critics Call for End of Taxpayer Funding for ‘Corrupt’ Research

The U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic invited the editors of three major science journals to testify on the relationship between their publications and the federal government.

Amid controversy over censorship in peer-reviewed journals, the editors of three major science journals last week received invitations to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on the relationship between their publications and the federal government.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chair of the subcommittee, sent the letters to the editors-in-chief of The Lancet, Nature and Science, requesting their testimony for an April 16 hearing titled “Academic Malpractice: Examining the Relationship Between Scientific Journals, the Government, and Peer Review.”

According to Wenstrup’s office, the hearing seeks to examine “whether these journals granted the federal government inappropriate access into the scientific review or publishing process,” noting that the journals had previously communicated with Drs. Anthony FauciFrancis Collins and other health officials.

Nature Medicine published the now infamous “Proximal Origin” paper in March 2020. The paper, which claimed COVID-19 had zoonotic, or natural, origins was subsequently used in attempts to censor proponents of the “lab-leak theory” of the virus’s origin.

In a press release, Wenstrup said:

“Millions of people worldwide relied on Science, Nature, and The Lancet to provide scientifically accurate and impartial research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, documents show that the federal government may have censored and manipulated the sacred scientific review processes at these journals to progress their preferred narrative about the origins of COVID-19.”

Cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough welcomed the announcement of the hearing. He told The Defender:

“I used the term ‘academic fraud’ in my Nov. 19, 2020, Senate testimony. During the pandemic, for the first time in my career, I saw fraudulent papers published and valid ones retracted after full peer review.

“Publication actions always went in a consistent theme of duality: suppression of early therapeutics for acute COVID-19 and promotion of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines as safe and effective … Manuscripts demonstrating successful home treatment strategies were impeded, and above all, manuscripts disclosing COVID-19 vaccine injuries, disabilities and deaths were swept under the rug.”

Several experts said scientific journals censored non-establishment views but regularly published “fraudulent” papers.

Epidemiologist and public health research scientist M. Nathaniel Mead told The Defender:

“We have faced an unprecedented level of scientific censorship in the past four years, and this has created a climate of fear for the medical-scientific community, compelling many researchers and scholars to practice self-censorship.

“This has fostered a pervasive hesitancy to broach certain topics, even in venues or contexts that are theoretically supportive of free expression. As a result, dissenting viewpoints that could enhance scientific dialogue are stifled.”

According to molecular biologist Richard Ebright, Ph.D., “Science has published two patently unsound and presumably fraudulent papers on the subject of COVID-19 origins, has not retracted these papers, has refused to open inquiries into those papers, and has used its news division to promote the false narrative that science favors a natural origin of COVID-19 and to dismiss contrary evidence and contrary views.”

Mark Blaxill, chief financial officer of the Holland Center, a private autism treatment center, told The Defender, “Policymakers and legislators often defer to scientists, ‘experts’ and the published record. To the extent that the record is corrupted by political forces that lean to one side of legitimate public policy disputes, the journals are tilting the playing field in favor of powerful interests.”

This has resulted in “the increasing politicization of science,” as a result of which “the body of published science is becoming increasingly weaponized,” Blaxill said.

Similarly, journalist Paul D. Thacker, publisher of The Disinformation Chronicle, told The Defender he hopes “Congress has something better planned than just parading the scientists running these journals before the public and berating them for being corrupt, because documents I’ve reported on show these journal editors have no shame.”

Wenstrup: Journal editors ‘seem to want to ignore’ COVID lab-leak theory

Much of the subcommittee’s focus has centered on “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2.” Published on March 17, 2020, in Nature Medicine, the paper concluded that a lab leak was not “plausible.” It soon became “one of the single most impactful and influential scientific papers in history.”

A House investigation and Freedom of Information Act requests later revealed that a month before publication, Fauci and Collins reviewed drafts of the paper. A July 2023 report by the subcommittee found that Fauci, key virologists and government officials used the paper to suppress the COVID-19 lab-leak theory.

Speaking on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.” last week, Wenstrup said the editors-in-chief to whom he sent letters “should want to weigh in on this because they published articles that seem to want to ignore [the lab-leak theory].”

“When anybody had the hypothesis of it being a lab leak theory … they were scrutinized, they were canceled, they were put down,” Wenstrup added. “A published article doesn’t mean that it’s been peer-reviewed and that it’s been going through the scrutiny that it should take from scientists … Just look at ‘Proximal Origin.’”

During an April 17, 2020, White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, Fauci told reporters, in the presence of then-President Donald Trump, “There was a study recently that we can make available to you” which showed that COVID-19 “is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”

“Fauci helped place the ‘Proximal Origin’ paper and then lied about it right under the nose of the president,” Thacker said. “He was thanked by [virologist] Kristian Andersen for his advice in an email, and then he wants to say he had no role in it.”

Wenstrup made a similar observation on “Varney & Co.”:

“‘Proximal Origin’ basically was written by people that were prompted to write it by Dr. Fauci. And all they really talked about was the possibility [that COVID-19] came from nature. If you read this article, it’s full of assumptions and what-ifs, and it completely ignores the lab leak theory.

“And internally, in their discussions, the same authors are saying, ‘Well, we can’t rule out that this came from a lab. It certainly looks engineered.’ So, there’s a problem with using these scientific journals as a be-all end-all.”

Earlier this year, Fauci sat for two days of closed-door interviews with members of the House, during which he reportedly responded with “I don’t recall” over 100 times.

For Thacker, the focus on the “Proximal Origin” paper ignores two other influential scientific papers that also were used try to discredit the “lab-leak theory.”

“This committee has been overly obsessed with ‘Proximal Origin’ … These virologists conspired to launch three different papers into the academic literature. It wasn’t just one paper. You don’t run a propaganda campaign off of just one paper,” Thacker said.

According to Thacker, on Feb. 19, 2020, EcoHealth Alliance’s Peter Daszak and Wellcome Trust’s Jeremy Farrar published a statement in The Lancet that claimed a possible Wuhan lab accident was a “conspiracy theory.”

The statement did not disclose that Daszak was funding research led by Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

On Feb. 26, 2020, scientists working behind the scenes with Zhengli and virologist Ralph Baric, Ph.D., published a commentary in Emerging Microbes & Infections that claimed it was a conspiracy theory to speculate that the pandemic started in a Wuhan lab.

Mead said the pandemic facilitated government intervention in scientific publishing:

“Most of this government influence is happening behind the scenes to avoid the appearance of impropriety. And when a scientific journal such as Nature or Science adopts a rapid publication process for COVID-19-related research … it tends to compromise the quality and reliability of the findings. It also makes it easier for outside influences to dictate the angle or perspective, or overall thrust, of the article in question.

“Beginning in 2020, this collaboration was tightly synchronized so as to allow for rushed authorization of the mRNA vaccines without sufficient risk evaluation and management protocols.”

Mead said this interference limited scientific discourse, adversely impacting the public.

“[During the pandemic] we could not mention the term natural immunity without being castigated or reflexively labeled an ‘anti-vaxxer,’” Mead said. “Early treatment and vaccine safety issues were, of course, also censored.”

Yet, in remarks to The Hill, a spokesperson for subcommittee Democrats accused Republicans of building “an extreme, partisan and conspiratorial narrative against our nation’s public health officials” and have not “revealed a cover-up of the pandemic’s origins nor a suppression of the lab leak theory [by] Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins.”

Journal editors ‘promote favored narratives and suppress dissent’

Blaxill highlighted the increased use of retractions by scientific and medical journals to silence non-establishment narratives on COVID-19 and other topics. He said:

“One worrisome trend I have seen is the use of retractions rather than public debate to manage scientific disagreements. My experience with the retraction of ‘Autism Tsunami’ was instructive. Our 2021 paper sailed through peer review and was among the most heavily downloaded publications of the year.”

But after criticism of the paper reached the editors of the journal that published the paper, the editors informed Blaxill and his co-authors they intended to “re-review” the paper. A few months later, the paper was retracted.

According to Blaxill, “The retraction process itself is what is broken. Instead of allowing debate to play out in public, through letters and responses in the journal, dissenting opinions and unpopular narratives are canceled.”

Brian Hooker, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for Children’s Health Defense, told The Defender, “In the case of having my own scientific paper retracted in 2014, I know the federal government played a strong role in getting the publication removed from print.”

“When the CDC whistleblower story broke … I was immediately put on notice by the journal (Translational Neurodegeneration) that the paper would be taken down from their website with a notice of concern. At one point, the journal put a notice on my paper that it was a threat to public health,” Hooker said.

McCullough criticized the use of retractions to silence critical papers. “As an editor-in-chief for over 20 years, I never retracted a paper, nor did I receive pressure from the publisher to pull a valid paper. That is because the peer review process and letter-to-the-editor processes work as data are vetted and interpreted,” he said.

“Scientific journals often manage the peer review and publication process to promote favored narratives and suppress dissent,” Blaxill said. “Scientific merit is rarely the priority in their management. Instead, supporting the favored (or ‘consensus’) narrative is the guiding principle more often than not.”

Experts call for investigation into journals’ relationships with Big Pharma

The experts who spoke with The Defender said that Congress needs to examine more than just the three journals whose editors-in-chief have been invited to testify on April 16.

“They should also be questioning these journal editors about their connections with Big Pharma,” Hooker said. “Journals such as JAMA, Pediatrics, etc., have corporate sponsors through their industry organizations which create myriad conflicts of interest.”

According to Thacker, “If you’re going to be a corrupt journal the way Science Magazine has turned itself into a completely corrupt institution, then we need to begin to think about whether or not publicly funded research can be published in these journals.”

“Taxpayers are funding this research, which ends up in these corrupt journals and lines the pockets of people running these corrupt journals. That needs to end. Something needs to be done to ensure that if you’re not going to abide by the basics of ethics and science publishing, then you can’t publish federally funded research,” he added.

Similarly, Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., professor of international law at the University of Illinois and a bioweapons expert who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, told The Defender:

“The real issue here that must be inquired into by Congress is the fact that Big Pharma has bought and paid for almost all science journals of relevance, to promote their pro-drug, pro-vaccine propaganda and disinformation, to the grave detriment of the public health of the American people.”

Thacker, who previously worked as an investigator for the U.S. Senate, said, “What we’ve learned from this process is that these scientists cannot be trusted. They lie all the time. I am not sure that this hearing is going to do anything unless they bring the documents out and they start doing referrals over to the Department of Justice.”


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