Amazon temporarily banned a COVID book, Elon Musk fought back

Jun 12, 2020, 3:13 PM

Amazon, antitrust...

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson found that a book he’d written was temporarily banned from Amazon, and joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss the experience of watching Elon Musk defend him.

The book “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns” sprang from a series of tweets in which Berenson argued against the lockdowns.

“I’ve been tweeting about coronavirus and arguing basically that the lockdowns are certainly overstated as a response to the crisis and probably counterproductive … I put this (book) up Wednesday night a week ago on their platform, their Kindle Direct platform, which is their self-publishing platform.”

He didn’t think there would be an issue as he’s published several books before.

“Given my background and given the fact that this is not a conspiracy theory, this is just data and facts that I’ve compiled with links,” Berenson said. “… The next morning I get a notice from Amazon … it just says ‘This is rejected. If you want to publish it, consider removing references to COVID-19.'”

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Berenson appealed to his more than 100,000 Twitter followers, and some in the media began to speak on his behalf, more on the right than on the left, and barely any mainstream journalists, he said. As Dave noted, the rumor on Berenson is that he’s some fringe coronavirus denier, so Dave asked him directly.

“Except I’m not a fringe COVID denier, as the book makes clear. It says that more people die of COVID than the flu, and it’s actually not that close,” he said. “But it also says the people who are dying are very old for the most part; the median age of death is in the low 80s almost everywhere, and oftentimes they’re very sick.”

“If we’re gonna talk about lockdowns, we need to talk about the realities of who’s getting sick and who’s dying,” he added.

Amazon eventually backed down and relented. Why? It may relate to Elon Musk joining the fray.

“Elon Musk, who obviously is a world renowned figure and runs two massive companies and has 35 million followers on Twitter, takes on Jeff Bezos directly. He says, ‘This is insane,’ and he says, ‘You’re a monopoly, Amazon. You should be broken up as well.'”

“Two hours later, Amazon emailed me and they said, ‘We’re publishing this,’ and they went on to tell people, ‘Oh, it was a mistake.’ Now I can tell you I have now heard from several other people whose COVID books they have refused to publish,” Berenson said. “So the only mistake they made was picking on somebody who had a megaphone big enough to yell back at them. And the kicker on this story is that since then the book went to number one in Kindle over the weekend.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Amazon temporarily banned a COVID book, Elon Musk fought back