America's Frontline Doctors Report
The Council for National Policy's creation, disinformation & insurrection
Concocting a Culture War: Experts and Astroturfs
March 2020, herd immunity lobbyists led by Scott Atlas, John Ioannidis, Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya etc, argued against lockdown in the US, the argument was strengthened in mid March when herd immunity was announced as the UK strategy. At this time Paul Alexander was brought into the White House team as an advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services.
However the lobbying failed, the US took measures and the UK government reversed the herd immunity strategy going into lockdown at the end of March.
The lobbying for a full reopening on 1 May 2020 increased in intensity and organisation. Seeing economic growth as essential for the upcoming Presidential Election later in the year, this became the focus of the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence with public health taking a back seat.
In April 2020 Pandata formed, although based in South Africa it has an international outlook, its scientific advisory board featuring many of the herd immunity lobbyists alongside conspiracy theorists and antivaxxers.
The Economic Argument
13 April, The Wall Street Journal reports leading conservative advocacy groups were building a coalition to demand reopening the US economy regardless of the ongoing pandemic. As part of the plan 100 business executives would be separated into industry groups. The Wall Street Journal detailed those involved in making the economic argument to Trump and the American people.
“The outside effort from conservative groups is expected to be led by Stephen Moore, a conservative at the Heritage Foundation who is close with White House economic officials; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots; Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy organisation; and Lisa Nelson, chief executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organisation with ties to the Koch brothers, according to the three people, who were granted anonymity to reveal details of an effort that had not been publicly revealed.”
The list of organisations won’t come as a surprise to those who study right wing politics in the US, all are connected to the Council for National Policy. A secretive organisation that doesn’t publicly reveal details of members or funding, the CNP was formed at the start of the eighties bringing together fundamental Christians, Republican politics and wealthy industrialist donors such as the Koch brothers to transform the Republican Party into its current culture wars obsessed incarnation, while also seeking to influence the politics of other countries to introduce radical right policies
The roots of the CNP herald from pro-segregation evangelicals, the policies they promote are anti-abortion, anti-feminest, anti-LBGT+, climate change denial, anti-environmentalism, the break up of state education, opposition to all gun control, and a massive shrinking of the state. Anne Nelson, the awarding winning journalist and writer of Shadow Network on the CNP has described the organisation as a pluto-theocracy.
A guiding principle of the CNP and its vast network of affiliated groups is that being right isn’t important, winning is all that counts. While having overarching organisations such as the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society a key strategy has been the funding of single issue astroturf groups, amplified by media and politicians. We see this with the creation of industry specific groups to make the economic argument, rather than having one group make the economic argument this allows the media to interview a succession of individuals arguing on behalf of different industries, letters and campaigns can begin with a large number of different lobby groups creating the impression of a mass movement when in reality a few individuals are coordinating the whole narrative.
Having been the force behind Trump’s election, the CNP groups targeted their ire at the scientific advisers around the President, in particular Anthony Fauci, demanding they were replaced or sidelined. Alternative economic advisers were suggested as the CNP lined up its own people for the role. The CNP and affiliated networks have spent decades aiding the development of the gun toting far right mobs that march in support of Trump, and the level of hate directed at Fauci and others has led to fears for the safety of academics and medical professionals advocating
One of the products of this initiative was the Save Our Country Coalition, although use of the word coalition seems questionable when so many of the organisations involved are branches from the same trunk
22 April, a doctor names Simone Gold tweeted herself wearing a white “Emergency Dept.” coat, in front of Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai hospital emergency room, suggesting concerns over the virus were exaggerated, she claiming “parking lots are empty, the emergency department volume is down, the patient census is down, and that’s really in most of the areas I’ve been to.” The message was amplified by right wing social media.
Around the same time in the UK over a hundred fake NHS nurse accounts were identified calling for a herd immunity strategy while also claiming the hospitals were empty and everyone should go back to work. Whether Gold created the narrative or it emerged separately in different countries at the same time, the claim worked its way into sections of the mainstream media, on social media right wing contrarians published pictures taken of empty hallways and this was repeated again in the winter of 2020 during the second wave. This led to mobs of angry protesters gathering outside hospitals and in some cases trying to force their way onto hospital wards in an attempt to take pictures of beds they wrongly presumed were predominantly empty.
A week later Gold would be involved in the Save Our Country Coalition.
Save Our Country Coalition
The Save Our Country Coalition launched on 27 April led by economist Art Laffer, other leadership members included Adan Brandon of FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Stephen Moore and Lisa Nelson. Their opening press release stated “The long-term consequences of a prolonged societal shutdown outweigh the damage done by the virus itself” The coalition’s members were mobilising networks, holding rallies, taking legal action, and commissioning polls to challenge lockdowns. Groups like FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots used social media accounts and extensive contact lists to coordinate protests across the US.
The alternative scientific base being created to oppose all measures was still in its infancy and hadn’t yet had time to gain a grip on the imaginations of many, while there were protests, they weren’t unable to force a way out of lockdown. In April, CNP Action, a lobbying offshoot of the CNP, began a series of weekly organising meetings over conference calls.
On 30 April the American Legislative Exchange Council published their open letter calling for the economy to reopen, alongside this they called for no covid health and safety legislation for workplaces, tax cuts and sweeping deregulation. The government should get out of the way and allow businesses to focus on the economy.
“It is possible and preferable for employers to implement best practices to protect the health of their customers and employees – without micromanagement from the government.”
“The key to rapidly rebuild the economy is the proven formula of tax relief, deregulation and lawsuit reform. This formula will unlock the potential of entrepreneurs, businesses and employees. The creativity and tenacity of private sector entrepreneurs and innovators – not the government – is the key to bringing our economy back to full health.
Additionally, federalism – the proper balance of power between states and the federal government – must be preserved.”
The letter was signed by over 200 state legislators and stakeholders including a number of Koch backed groups including the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the James Madison Institute.
On 7 May the Washington Spectator reports,
“Simone Gold brought a more explicit anti-lockdown message to a program on the Whiskey Politics show on Salem Radio, part of the massive Salem Media conglomerate owned by two leading members of the Council for National Policy. It was headlined “DR. SIMONE GOLD GOES PUBLIC! What the Government WON’T Tell Us About COVID-19.”
“It’s not at all clear that overall, that social distancing is going to make a huge impact,” Gold said. “We’re all acting like as though there’s a huge medical crisis. There’s a medical issue, we should handle it responsibly, but what’s going on in our country now is a terrible legal crisis. Our constitutional rights are being trampled on right and left.” Gold later added, “There’s always viruses . . . but I’m not sure that it’s front-page news.”
The Founding of America’s Frontline Doctors
An incredible hour-long conference call on the 11 May organised by CNP Action with a senior staffer for the Trump reelection campaign was leaked to the Associated Press. CNP Action was working with the Save Our Country Coalition, alongside FreedomWorks Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council and Tea Party Patriots.
Participants included CNP President William Walton, CNP member Nancy Schulze, and Mercedes Schlapp, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign. Schulze, the wife of former Republican Congressman Dick Schulze, opened by warning the majority of Americans were wary of coming out of lockdown.
“Doctors are seen by the American people—they have a 92 percent trust rate with the American people according to polling” adding “There is a coalition of doctors who are extremely pro-Trump that have been preparing and coming together for the war ahead in the campaign on health care,” continuing
“The one thing the left does give credence to, in that they tend to be motivated by a secular worldview, the one thing that they do appreciate and listen to is science, and we have doctors that have the facts, that lived this themselves, that are in the trenches, that are saying it’s time to reopen,” Schulze continued. “I’ve been working with them for three years. There’s a coalition of doctors . . . including the most respected doctors in this country, that are ready to speak if somebody will just call on them.”
Walton told her, “We need to not just make the economic argument, we need to make the health argument, and we need doctors to make that argument, not us. And so that would be great if you, if we could tee that up.”
Schulze said she would be happy to put him in touch “with any and all of these doctors, and I have submitted 27 of these doctors’ names to the campaign for the doctors’ coalition that they’re in the process of building.”
Mercedes Schlapp asked Schulze if she had spoken with Hannah Castillo, director of coalitions for the Trump campaign. “I know they’ve been working on building that coalition. I know they’re going through the vetting process right now. As long as you have the names, that would be helpful. . . . Those are the type of guys we want to get out on TV and radio to help push out the message.”
Schulze replied, “I’ve been working with Hannah for over six weeks now, so they already have been vetted. But they need to be put on the screen
“The president’s going to get tagged by the fake news media as being irresponsible and not listening to doctors,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative union said on the call. “And so we have to gird his loins with a lot of other people. So I think what Nancy’s talking about … this is the critical juncture that we highlight them.”
Associated Press contacted Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director for comment and he confirmed plans to recruit doctors to support the president. “Anybody who joins one of our coalitions is vetted,” Murtaugh said. “And so quite obviously, all of our coalitions espouse policies and say things that are, of course, exactly simpatico with what the president believes. ... The president has been outspoken about the fact that he wants to get the country back open as soon as possible.”
“Our job at the campaign is to reflect President Trump’s point of view,” Murtaugh said. “We are his campaign. There is no difference between us and him.”
Shortly after the call, a conservative PR firm released an open letter to Trump on 19 May calling lockdowns a “mass casualty incident” that would kill millions. Simone Gold was the first signature on the letter, already signed up to the Save Our Country Coalition; she had been appearing in the media promoting hydroxychloroquine claiming she’d seen good results from prescribing the anti-malaria drug to two of her patients. These claims went viral online and are presumably the source of Trump’s suggestion hydroxychloroquine might be an effective treatment.
She told the Associated Press there was “no scientific basis that the average American should be concerned” about covid. Like the president, she was advocating for a fast reopening, and argues that because the majority of deaths so far have been the elderly and people with preexisting conditions, younger people should be working.
Rapid rise to prominence
Simone Gold became the founding member and leader of the newly formed organisation America’s Frontline Doctors, nicknamed “Trumps doctors” by some. They are a militant source of disinformation and Gold was also the face of two websites called thegoldopinion.com and adoctoraday.com which also featured videos of disinformation doctors criticising the public health response.
Regularly platformed by US conservative media, Gold became a prolific campaigner appearing at rallies and protests, developing a considerable online presence that stretched across national borders. In late Spring 2020 she was on the panel that recommended Orange County Board of Education reopen schools without masks or social distancing. After a year she had amassed over 300k followers on Twitter and 160,000 users on Telegram channels. Venturing into TikTok and Instagram AFLD quickly became one the of US’ leading sources of disinformation, undermining confidence in public health measures.
One of the conspiracy theories Gold promoted in 2020 was that death certificates were being falsified to exaggerate the scale of the pandemic which played into the Plandemic rhetoric and set up healthcare workers as the enemy within.
In a sane world a group of individuals that promoted such conspiracy theories would never get near the mainstream, however “being right isn’t important” and the likes of the CNP and the Koch network have considerable funds at their disposal to run a highly effective marketing strategy across multi-media platforms. While building up ground troops by tapping into already established anti-vax groups like Robert F Kennedy Jr’s Children’s Health Defence, they had the means and connections to skip out much of the hard work grassroot organisations usually must do to break into the mainstream.
Far from “silenced”
AFLD might claim to be the silenced victims of censorship but several members of AFLD met with Vice President Mike Pence and appeared on conservative media with huge viewing figures like Fox News. A narrative can be inserted into the media with politicians already linked to the think tanks and institutions taking up the cause to flood the airways with representatives of the latest astroturf organisations while bots, trolls and believers in the cause amplify the message as they seek to expand their numbers and build support for the astroturfs.
Gold’s appearances included interviews with Glenn Beck, Sebastian Gorka, Whiskey politics and The Charlie Kirk show. Kirk is the founder of university culture wars outfit Turning Point, his partner and Turning Point representative Candace Owens has moved from questioning covid vaccines to producing a documentary series advocating against the use of all vaccines. A leaked September 2020 membership list of the Council for National Policy listed Kirk as the William F Buckley Jr Council member of the CNP and as a spokesperson for CNP Action.
The hastily constructed coalition of pro herd-immunity academics, economists, industry groups, and disinformation doctors’ influence on Trump could be seen in his tweets and press conference performances as he espoused the benefits of hydroxychloroquine; even claiming he was taking it, and the president called for people to stand up against their state governments if they refused to reopen, tweeting statements like “LIBERATE MITCHIGAN” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA”.
While the UK’s covid press briefings turned prevarication and vacuous statements into an art form, the White House briefings were bewildering roller coasters where the expressions of confusion on the faces of the experts standing behind Trump were often worth watching. Examples include asking if UV light could be used inside the body to treat covid and asking his experts to look into the benefits of injecting bleach which resulted in hospitalisations as Trump supporters decided to dose themselves with disinfectant. In the UK we laughed at this but as with the 5G conspiracy theories attacking phone masts we did see a few examples of people getting sick after trying to treat themselves with bleach.
There were as always, Trump’s trademark attacks on the “fake news lamestream media” as he railed against journalists who asked questions he didn’t like, and the briefings with his spokeswomen with her gigantic ring binder sprouting so many tabs and post-it notes it resembled a paper hedgehog. The press communications which didn’t include Trump had a pre-prepared answer for almost everything, none were convincing and often chose attack as a form of defence. Trump engaged in all sorts of minimisation suggesting deaths were grossly over exaggerated, and that the high case numbers were an artefact of increased testing, coming into conflict with Fauci and the CDC as he questioned if testing should be massively scaled back.
By July, herd immunity lobbyist Scott Atlas had been invited by Jared Kushner to work inside the Trump administration alongside his Pandata colleague Canadian Paul E Alexander. The US Covid Oversight Committee’s investigations into the pandemic response has produced an evidenced report titled The Atlas Dogma on Scott Atlas’ actions inside government. Chairman Clyburn released the following statement on the report.
“The Select Subcommittee’s investigation has revealed extensive evidence of the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the nation’s public health response to the coronavirus crisis in an attempt to benefit the former president politically. As today’s report makes clear, senior officials in the previous Administration embraced a dangerous and discredited herd immunity via mass infection strategy promoted by non-expert advisers like Dr. Scott Atlas and recklessly allowed the coronavirus to infect Americans before vaccines were widely available. This dereliction of duty resulted in significant loss of life that could have been prevented. We must honour those we’ve lost by bringing this shameful recent history to light and ensuring that it is never repeated—politics must never again be prioritised over the health and lives of the American people.”
The White Coat Summit
Near the end of July Donald Trump Jr was banned from Twitter for 12 hours after sharing a video by AFLD.
"This is a must watch!!! So different from the narrative everyone is running with!" Facebook and Youtube removed the video due to false information and the promotion of false cures and covid treatments, the video also accused doctors who refused to give patients hydroxychloroquine of being Nazis and fake doctors. Donald Trump also shared the video, later that day he deleted the tweet, avoiding a Twitter ban.
On July 27, the dozen original members of America’s Frontline Doctors had stood in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. dressed in white lab coats with Simone Gold as their chief spokesperson.
Live streamed by Breitbart, the alt-right media channel founded by CNP member Steve Bannon, the AFLD’s “news conference” might only have had a few attendees but it was viewed over 20 million times before Facebook removed it. The event was hosted and funded by the Tea Party Patriots, who had already set up the Second Opinion Project, a covid sceptic website similar to Lockdown Sceptics founded by Toby Young in the UK at the start of April. The video was also promoted by Turning Point, a conservative student group of the Koch network that was created to wage culture wars in universities and recruit the next generation of contrarians.
AFLD were introduced by Jenny Beth Martin, the founding CEO of Tea Party Patriots. The doctors argued for the use of hydroxychloroquine, Zithromax and zinc as a cure for Covid-19 and claimed wearing masks, social distancing and lockdowns were unnecessary.
Besides Gold, another AFLD doctor featured in the video was vocal Trump supporter Stella Immanuel who already had a reputation for bizarre conspiracy theories before the pandemic through her religious organisation Fire Power Ministries which blames health issues of the reproductive system on having sex dreams with demons and witches, and that magic 8 balls are a scheme to encourage children to take up witchcraft. She also appears to be a fan of the conspiracy theorist David Icke claiming reptiles and aliens in disguise are involved in running the government, alien DNA is being used in experimental medical treatments, there were plans to put microchips in vaccines and that having discovered the gene that makes people religious governments were preparing to vaccinate people against being religious.
Stella Immanuel claimed she had cured 350 people with the unproven treatments, likening doctors who refused to endorse hydroxychloroquine to “good Germans who allow the Nazis to kill the Jews”, and accused pharmaceutical companies of suppressing the drug with biased sponsored studies.
Immanuel is also hostile towards the LGBT+ community, opposing same sex marriage she warned that “very soon people are going to be seeking to marry children”, speaking of “homosexual terrorism” she is on record praising a father’s for no longer loving his transgender son after transitioning.
Trump’s response to the viral video of the event and AFLD was to describe them as "very respected doctors." When asked about the conspiracy theories promoted by Immanuel Trump replied, "I thought she was very impressive, in the sense that, from where she came — I don't know what country she comes from — but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients."
Publicly Immanuel is no longer involved with AFLD, however she could still be working behind the scenes in the same way HART group in the UK has many non public members.
This likening to the Nazi’s plays into the Nuremberg 2.0 narrative that was part of the anti-vaxxer movement prior to the pandemic. Nuremberg 2.0 as a rallying call for militant sceptics had been adopted in May by the World Doctors Alliance which formed at the same time as AFLD, whose mainly European membership included Republican politician Scott Jensen who is also on Pandata’s Scientific Advisory Board and is standing to be governor of Minnesota.
Jensen was a vocal sceptic early on in the pandemic, by July 2020 he was already in trouble after making claims that the death toll was being exaggerated, making the accusation that financial incentives were encouraging the health system to wrongly attribute deaths to covid.
The World Doctors Alliance created the World Freedom Alliance
The World Freedom Alliance is a cross border umbrella organisation whose groups calls for those responsible for supporting the “covid hoax” of being put on trial. The website promotes the fake trials and hearings being conducted by the likes of Reiner Fuellmich in Germany and the Corona Investigative Committee, where all “witnesses” appear to be members of other connected groups as they provide the evidence of their alternative science in the echo chambers of sham court rooms.
For full details on the World Freedom Alliance see the Counter Disinformation Project’s report below.
The White Coat Summit was promoted and quoted by disinformation groups around the world. Gold has said she was fired from her hospital position shortly after the summit, however this allowed her to increase her claims she was a victim of censorship, winning her even more support from the alt-right and an interview on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show providing her an audience of over three million Americans.
Such set piece events such as the White Coat Summit with lists of speakers have become a major feature of disinformation group campaigning and organising, often acting as the equivalent of a CPAC, they increase the profile of members of the wider network, rallying the supporter base and providing them with talking points to take online and back to their neighbourhoods. These are also used as fundraisers through ticket and merchandise sales.
With its roots firmly in fundamental Christianity the CNP has considerable influence over Christian TV, Radio and evangelical megachurches, during the pandemic there has been a merging of religion with covid disinformation. AFLD have had campaign videos played in some churches.
After being removed by social media companies The White Coat Summit was rebroadcast by Daystar which is the second largest Christian network in the country, founded by Marcus and Joni Lamb.
The Washington Spectator reported that on 10 August, Pat Robertson’s show on the Christian Broadcasting Network carried an interview with Simone Gold and an endorsement of her hydroxychloroquine cure.
In mid August Gold was the main guest on the Lamb’s Ministry Now programme alongside Robert F Kennedy Jr who via his Children’s Health Defense charity is one of the most senior members of the international anti-vax movement and is a major funder of disinformation. In the programme Marcus Lamb announces a £10,000 matching challenge from Daystar for donation to go directly to Gold. As of August 2022 she had appeared five more times on the Daystar network.
Despite her Jewish background, Gold has been embraced by fundamentalist evangelical groups appearing at the Steeling the MInd conference put on by Compass International, a Christian ministry founded by Bill Perkins who is involved in the creationist movement that believes in a “young Earth”. Some speakers at the conference suggested humans had been on Earth for only 7,000 years.
On August 21, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s NewsWars also carried an interview with another member of America’s Frontline Doctors, Mark McDonald. McDonald—a child psychiatrist—maintained, “If all Americans had access to hydroxychloroquine, the pandemic would essentially end in about 30 days.”
Thomas Renz, AFLD Lawfare
A US example of a sceptic lawyer is Thomas Renz, one of America’s Frontline Doctors “dream legal team”
From the Washington Post
Renzo and Popper have appeared at an event run by the Truth for Health Foundation which is launching a church based telesales scheme that merges religion with covid scepticism and denial. Members of Truth for Health include Peter McCullough and Rodger Hodkinson, who are both also Pandata members. Other speakers at the event included Michael Yeadon also a member of Pandata and HART who is now advising AFLD, and Reiner Fuellmich, the American-German lawyer who is holding sham court trials where healthcare workers and institutions are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for rolling out covid vaccines.
Popper was also involved in World4Brexit that was led by former Ronald Reagan staffer Peggy Grande as a fundraiser to promote Brexit within America, Steve Bannon was named as an advisor and Matha Boneta from the Council for National Policy was on the board of governors alongside Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant who is also a President of the Royal Commonwealth Society United States.The launch was attended by Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
The founder of World4Brexit was Jon Dobinson who founded the UK sceptic groups the Recovery Alliance, Restore the Balance and Time4Recovery which has worked with groups including school focused group Us For Them. While the Recovery Alliance’s funding is unknown it has donated to the Covid Recovery Group of sceptic Conservative MPs. The UK’s Electoral Commission has raised concerns the Recovery Alliance may be a conduit for dark money.
On 14 November when Trump supporters gathered for their “Million MAGA march”, Gold was in attendance along with Mike Lindell who funded the march as were Sebastian Gorka, and Republican member of Congress Marjorie Taylor Green who has publicly voiced her support for QAnon.
From the Supreme Court steps Gold shouted “You do not give up your inalienable rights just because there’s an epidemic”, claiming scaring people with a mostly mild disease was an “age-old tactic” to seize power by scaring people.
Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi website, advertised the event attracting white nationalist and militia groups like Groypers and the Proud Boys. One person was stabbed and 21 people were charged with assault and gun charges after violence broke out at the rally.
On 6 January when Capitol Hill was stormed, Gold was inside the corridors of power with the insurrectionists leading to her picture appearing on FBI wanted posters.
In June 2022 Simone Gold was sentenced to 60 days in prison in June 2020 for the offence of trespass during the January 6 Capitol Hill Insurrection. Prior to sentencing AFLD ran a fundraising campaign for Gold’s legal case raising $430,000, considerably more than was required for her defence.
During sentencing District Judge Cooper was scathing about the fundraising and how the money would be spent.
“I find it unseemly that your organisation is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for its operations, including your salary,” he added later, asserting that Gold was generating the money “by mischaracterising what this proceeding is all about.”
“People need to know this is not acceptable,” the judge said. “This is not what this process is all about.”
“I have heard a lot about how you are not able to fly,” Cooper said, “but I haven’t heard anything about the five people who died. The four people who committed suicide afterwards. Or the staffers” and others locked down in fear for their safety.
The Rabbit Hole
The denialism and conspiracy theories of AFLD did more than undermine public health, it undermined trust in the foundations and institutions in the US and other countries too
The storming of Capitol Hill wasn’t a culmination of events, the movement continues, a melting pot of anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, Nazis, and a lot of simply misguided people who have been led down the rabbit hole, supported by a growing infrastructure of alternative media which appears to be endorsed by elements of right wing mainstream media who continue to platform those who have been consistently wrong.
A reminder of the CNP’s principle strategy from Shadow Network by Anne Nelson.( A recommended read, for those wishing to understand how the radical right in the US and the wider international far right movement operates.)
AFLD is the creation of the CNP and elements of the CNP were also involved in 6 January.
AFLD have engaged in threatening militancy, and do not respond well to criticism or scrutiny, for example sending a private investor to stalk the head of California’s medical board.
In 2021 as hydroxychloroquine became discredited AFLD moved onto ivermectin which has proven very profitable for many groups. They offered consultations via the SpeakWithAnMD service, charging $90 for telemedicine appointments, there are reports of people paying in advance not receiving their consultations.
Ivermectin quickly became the alternative choice for anti-vaxxers and once again healthcare and other institutions were accused of murder and conspiracy for suppressing this miracle drug in favour of a nefarious vaccine programme. This culminated in many groups adopting Nuremborg 2.0 rhetoric.
This is just one of many revenue streams the group developed, a national RV tour sold VIP meet and greet tickets with Gold for $1000, the tour was cancelled at the last minute with AFLD claiming it could only begin once they received more donations. They raised money for legal challenges and offered themselves as a resource for legal action against mask and vaccine mandates, any grift that would attract the dollars of those following the sceptic and anti-vax movement.
In Arizona AFLD sought charity status under the name Free Speech Foundation however after failing to submit the required annual accounts the state changed the organisation's charity status to pending inactive.
We saw the rise of many other groups promoting ivermectin, in particular Frontline Covid Critical Care (FLCCC) founded by Pierre Kory who first brought attention to ivermectin in December 2020, and the British Ivermectin Research Development group founded by Tess Lawrie who is a member of many disinformation groups including the HART group established in December 2020 and the World Council for Health which is a sponsor of Defeat the Mandates.
Mary Talley Bowden is FLCCC’s clinical adviser and has stated online that she is a member of AFLD, although she has also threatened legal action against those making this claim.
Bowden likes getting litigious, she is suing her former hospital Houston Methodist and is suing pro-vax pharmacist for defamation, despite having doxxed said pharmacist’s address and threatened her baby on Twitter. She has made calls for Nuremberg 2.0 against fellow doctors on social media and is at risk of losing her medical licence.
In May 2021 AFLD filed a lawsuit in Alabama to try and prevent the roll out of vaccines to under sixteens. One of the plaintiffs of note on the lawsuit was Scott Jensen, a Republican politicians standing for governor of Minnesota, Jensen is also a member of Pandata and the anti-vax World Doctors Alliance.
In September 2021 AFLD filed a lawsuit in New York against proof of vaccination mandates.
Florida, Ron DeSantis and Joseph Lapado
Florida under the governance of Ron DeSantis has become the shining light in the US for sceptics, deniers and anti-vaxxers.
In March 2020 DeSantis decided against declaring a state of emergency and rejected the use of masks, however stay at home orders were eventually brought in on 1 April. As cases were rising in June DeSantis decided to partially lift stay at home orders and to end restrictions on bars and restaurants, by July Florida had the highest case rate in the world.
In August and September DeSantis moved further away from the scientific consensus, ignoring the advice of Florida’s Emerging Pathogen’s Institute, instead he brought in the advice of Scott Atlas and other herd immunity lobbyists like Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya.
In September 2021 he banned fines for mask mandates effectively bringing mandates to an end and ordered cities to focus less on universal testing. In October he announced all schools would be open for in person education.
On 3 May 2021, DeSantis rescinded the state of emergency and all covid public health orders. This order prohibited municipalities from enacting any further public health order for covid. The same day, he signed a bill into law that prohibited businesses, cruise ships, schools, and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination for use of services.
The decision was praised by Jay Bhatacharya who claimed Florida had solved covid but by the end of July Florida was recording record case rates. Roughly 20% of all cases in the US were in Florida. More people died in that peak than in the first, despite vaccines being readily available.
Following the Great Barrington Declaration’s plan to allow unmitigated transmission in younger age groups so they could “build up herd immunity”, DeSantis banned schools from implementing mask mandates, claiming without evidence that masks were harmful to children. In August he threatened to fine, withhold funding, or withhold salary from any school district or school official who did so, going as far as to order Alachua and Broward school districts to reverse their mask mandates or face a reduction in state funding
On 27 August, 2021, Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis could not ban mask mandates in schools. The state appealed, automatically suspending Cooper's ruling while the appeal was considered, but Cooper overruled that suspension on September 8, lifting DeSantis's ban, citing the need to protect unvaccinated children.
On September 21, 2021, DeSantis appointed Joseph Ladapo as Florida's surgeon general despite Ladapo’s employer writing a letter warning he was unsuitable for the position. The appointment brought complaints from swathes of the medical community, Ladapo was associated with America’s Frontline Doctors, promoting unproven treatments, and questioning the safety of vaccines.
Asked on the day of his appointment as surgeon general whether he believed that states should promote vaccines, Ladapo said instead that states should promote "good health" and said that vaccines have "been treated almost like a religion. It's just senseless." In his first days as Florida surgeon general, Ladapo signed an emergency rule that repealed quarantines for schoolchildren exposed to covid.
In October 2021, he refused to wear a mask while in a meeting with State Senator Tina Polsky, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and due to undergo treatment. Ladapo subsequently refused to say whether he had been vaccinated.
On November 18, 2021, DeSantis signed a legislative package into law, to impose fines on businesses and hospitals that require vaccine passports. The legislation was signed a day after Florida’s Republican lawmakers passed his anti-mandate agenda which DeSantis called "the strongest piece of legislation that's been enacted anywhere in the country" in opposition to mandates.
22 March, Ladapo issued a recommendation that healthy children in Florida should not be vaccinated.
In June 2022, DeSantis decided against ordering COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, making Florida the only state not to pre-order vaccines for that demographic
Florida has become the Sweden of the US. cited by sceptics around the world that covid would simply go away if it was ignored by authorities.
The HART connection
AFLD’s considerable online presence spread across international borders, their disinformation was quoted and shared in the UK, even by verified UK accounts on Twitter. When the Daily Express’ health editor Lucy Johnson is retweeting people like Simone Gold we have to question the role mainstream media has played in undermining public health and facilitating conspiracy theories.
HART fills a similar role in the UK as AFLD in the mainstreaming of disinformation in right wing media, however they have promoted themselves as politically neutral and kept the crazier conspiracy theory conversations to private chat rather than airing them in public. In June 2021 the entire contents of their internal chat logs were leaked to the Counter Disinformation Project and a handful of journalists and researchers.
What was surprising about the HART leaks was how many members appear willing to entertain conspiracy theories as credible possibilities, even that vaccines might be preparing humans to become wi-fi compatible.
Artur Bartosik of HART states he has been a member of AFLD for some time, he is also currently listed on the FLCCC website. He offers to edit AFLD materials adopted by HART to share with those in Poland he’s working with once again demonstrating the international nature of this network.
We can see from an email in late January 2021 between Bartosik and Sean Burke, then interim executive director of FLCCC, how Pierre Kory and Paul Marik made use of the already established disinformation network to rapidly roll out FLCCC around the world.
Yeadon & Smalley
Michael Yeadon and Joel Smalley, both members of Pandata and HART have been advising AFLD since 2021.
Yeadon a former Pfizer scientist now retired, he was a key person in advancing the idea of a “casedemic”, questioning the reliability of PCR tests by claiming the majority of cases were false positives and manipulating data to produce anti-vax papers, the most egregious of these being the claim that vaccines caused infertility in women and could harm unborn babies when the reality is that pregnant women are at increased risk from covid. His background of working in big pharma was well received by the sceptics who treated him like a whistle blower from inside the industry, after being banned from Twitter he disappeared from mainstream media but continued being a workhorse for the disinformation network, keeping track of all the groups he’s supporting has been a challenge as he collaborates across borders.
#HARTleaks shows Yeadon and Smalley were working in Florida to prevent the roll out of vaccines to children.
Besides Pandata he was a founding member of Doctors for Covid Ethics, an Europe wide anti-vax group that formed in early 2021 with members mainly from Austria, Germany and the UK which included other prolific high profile anti-vaxxers such as Wolfgang Wodarg, Andreas Sonnichsen and fellow Pandata Scientific Advisory Board member Sucharit Bhakdi.
In Germany Yeadon works closely with Reiner Fuellmich becoming increasingly extremist with claims about global conspiracies to depopulate the world with vaccines.
In the US Yeadon is a member of the Truth for Health Foundation, a bizarre mix of anti-vaxxers, natural health advocates, nuns and reverends, the website leads to outlandish science fiction spiritualism akin to scientology. Truth for Health Foundation merges religion with the anti-vax movement, currently they are seeking to create a network of church based telesales schemes selling alternative treatments.
Other Pandata members in the Truth for Health foundation are Peter McCullough, Canadian Rodger Hodkinson and Paul Alexander, a Trump advisor who was accused of manipulating covid data. All three were involved in the Canadian Truckers’ protests.
Tess Lawrie, BIRD & WCH,
Tess Lawrie has been involved with Pandata and HART, she is also the founding member of the British Ivermectin Research Development group and the World Council for Health.
BIRD is FLCCC’s sister, for all intents and purposes they are essentially two sections of the same organisation.
Since inception BIRD have been fundraising with the aim of creating an ivermection distribution network.
BIRD membership and allies list. Edmund Fordham is also a member of HART, as is Jemma Moran. Moran is also the secretariat of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Covid Recovery which is sponsored by Collateral Global. Collateral Global’s board shared multiple members with Pandata’s advisory board, including Gupta, Kulldorff and Bhatacharya.
The #HARTleaks demonstrates the close collaboration with groups across borders.
Ros Jones is a HART member who has also been integral to the UsForThem group that’s campaigned against all measures in UK schools including child vaccination. She has founded multiple campaign groups against under 16s vaccination.
Official affiliates of BIRD according to their website, demonstrating the international nature of the network.
World Council for Health
The World Council for Health has over 130 Coalition Partner organisations in over 40 countries, however many of these groups are made up of the same individuals.
In one of their first round table events The World Council for Health advertised a range of unproven and unsafe treatment, besides ivermectin they also recommended hydrogen peroxide and chlorine hydroxide as post covid jab supplements to protect people from “post jab symptoms”.
Demonstrating how elements of the media are comfortable sharing a platform with extremists, the World Council for Health had a conference in May 2022 hosted by former LBC presenter turned conspiracy theorist Maajid Nawaz, with GB News presenter Neil Oliver as a guest speaker. The conference’s line up shows how disinformation collaborates.
Paul Alexander, Canadian health researcher in the Trump administration at Department of Health and Human Services who pressured scientists and public health to suppress covid data. Connected to the AIER and writes for the Brownstone Institute.
Robert Malone, self styled “inventor of mRNA vaccines”. As with many high profile disinformation doctors the HARTleaks reveal Malone was a guest at Pandata meetings. Unity Project.
Robert F Kennedy Jr, was an established member of the US anti-vax agenda years before the pandemic, during covid his organisation Children’s Health Defence collaborated with anti-vax groups around the world and used the pandemic to set up subsidiaries in other countries including the UK. HART member Liz Evans is on the Children’s Health Defence’s board.
Val Fraser, HART member.
Jeff Hanson, Unity Project.
James Todaro America’s Frontline Doctors
John Campbell, started a popular youtube channel, in the beginning his content was mainstream clear explanations of data, however as the pandemic progressed his narrative shifted into disinformation,
Pierre Kory, FLCCC
Dolores Cahill, World Doctors Alliance, Health Freedom Ireland, World Freedom Alliance
Reiner Fuellmich, a German lawyer who has spent the pandemic conducting failed legal cases, set up the Corona Investigative Committee calling for Nuremberg 2.0. Has worked with many groups and individuals including Michael Yeadon.
Peter McCullough, Pandata, Truth for Health Foundation, Unity Project
Nick Hudson, founder and chairman of Pandata.
Of course the World Council for Health has a fundraiser.
While the World Health Council for Health boasts over 100 organisations, many of these groups have an overlap of members and organising groups.
To search for the affiliated groups in each country the World Council for Health has a search option on its website.
Defeat the Mandates
A relatively small number of individuals have created a large number of groups which should be considered subsidiaries of larger umbrella organisations, even these umbrella organisations are interlinked to the point that what we have is essentially a covid disinformation conglomerate.
In a short period of time a small group can amass hundreds of signatures from what appears to be separate individuals and organisations. An example of this is Defeat the Mandates in the US.
The disinformation network has had remarkable success at gaining support from elements of mainstream right wing media, and conservative/right wing politicians around the world, in particular in the Republican and Conservative parties.
Any country which intends on having an inquiry into their pandemic response will be woefully incomplete if it doesn’t examine the impact of the coordination disinformation network.