Insurrectionist physician Simone Gold and RFK Jr's far-right delusion
Allison Neitzel MD: Insurrection hearings have started and insurrectionist Simone Gold still has her license to kill with vaccine misinformation and politics
This week both Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Simone Gold posted misinformation about a supposed link between the Covid-19 vaccines and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare fatal neurological disorder that affects a few hundred people in the United States annually (compare with Covid-19 which has taken over a million American lives). This claim had already been debunked by Ryan Maddox PhD, an epidemiologist in the Prion and Public Health Office Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the CDC who stated at the 2021 Virtual CJD Foundation Family Conference:
“There’s no biological explanation that would related prion disease to Covid and that goes for the vaccine as well” - Ryan Maddox, PhD
We know how social media’s lack of appropriate content moderation select for this sort of incendiary misinformation. Discrediting these claims is easy for us, but getting the message out is a fight against the algorithm. Beyond that, we know this small group has outsized financial and political pull. In discussing these increasingly desperate false claims by disinformation doctors like Gold and their political allies like RFK Jr, we must also look at who is saying them, how they are connected, and why to understand the full scope of the ‘disinformation pipeline’.
Simone Gold MD, JD, Insurrectionist, Founder of America’s Frontline Doctors
Simone Gold is the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS), a pro-hydroxychloroquine group assembled for the Trump administration to go against his own CDC and downplay the threat of Covid-19 in the lead up to his re-election rally season as exposed by Anne Nelson. Despite having pled guilty for insurrection charges, she has been using her time on bond to stalk the president of the California Medical Association and appear multiple times on the Pro-Trump Qanon “REAWAKEN America” tour with disgraced General Mike Flynn. She makes dangerous public health claims like calling the vaccines “experimental biological agents” to fear-monger and garner this extremist support. Gold seems to still believe, despite her June 16th insurrection sentencing date fast approaching and the beginning of the prime-time insurrection hearings against Trump this week, that she is above consequence - and reality. Her fellow insurrectionist John Strand and AFLDS’ “Frontline Flash” correspondent has posted that January 6th was a hoax, despite appearing with her on an FBI wanted poster. He has also appeared with Flynn on “press” tour.
In addition to her extremist activity, Gold has remained active in politics through her organization and affiliates. AFLDS has pressured boards to sweep misinformation-spreading by physicians under the rug. A nurse and AFLDS member named Bret Barker is the CEO of Nuremberg 2.0 LTD which is listed in formal opposition to AB2098 - the California bill to classify spread of disinformation by physicians as unprofessional conduct. So is Children’s Health Defense’s (CHD) California chapter.
RFK Jr. has also not shied away from extremist rhetoric about vaccines that includes misplaced WWII references. At the January 2022 Defeat the Mandates he made headlines for comparing CDC Director Dr. Anthony Fauci’s “fascism” as worse than living like Anne Frank in Nazi Germany. This was not the first time he had used Holocaust imagery when talking about vaccines. Other political leaders have echoed these statements, like Trump-supporting Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) who name-dropped Nuremberg in an interview with AFLDS lawyer Todd Callendar last month. GOP/Koch Industries-aligned Great Barrington Declaration authors Jay Battacharya and Martin Kulldorff have used this tactic in discussing vaccines on social media, calling on their supporters to hold “lockdowners” (aka public health officials) “accountable”. This feels eerily similar to the online planning of the insurrection by Trump and his colleagues discussed at the prime-time hearings last night. That may be because there is overlap in the web of people in that misinformation campaign with the web of people in the political anti-vaccine movement.
Peter Aldhous @paldhousAnd from the defense sentencing memorandum: Simone Gold "received a letter in late 2021 from the California Medical Board threatening to take away her medical license for 'an instance of misinformation'" https://t.co/ihFrVxk5te
Peter Aldhous @paldhousUPDATE: US government requesting sentence of 90 days incarceration, 60 hours community service, and $500 restitution, see: https://t.co/cObugIavUF https://t.co/u6jMa4Utnb
Before becoming a small-scale participant in the insurrection, Gold worked with RFK Jr. on the evangelical television circuit. After losing her job over what can only be described as a hydroxychloroquine stunt for Trump, Gold appeared with RFK Jr. on Daystar’s “Ministry Now” program with Marcus Lamb who fundraised for her before dying unvaccinated of Covid-19. Steve Bannon’s Qanon campaign also has relied heavily on the religious far-right. Gold and JFK Jr.’s co-sponsors of Defeat the Mandates the Unity Project’s Peter McCullough MD, MPH and Robert Malone MD and Frontline Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)’s Pierre Kory MD MS have all appeared on both Bannon’s “War Room” podcast and Ron Johnson’s “2nd Opinion Panel”.
This is both Trump 2.0 and Qanon 2.0. We saw how this story ended for our country on January 6, 2021. We are just starting to see accountability a year and a half later. Public health can’t wait a year and a half for accountability. We are not safe and cannot wait until they try to enact their Nuremberg 2.0 on healthcare workers, like something out of a Margaret Atwood novel. Trump, Bannon, and Putin are a three-headed political beast that is Hitler reborn and anyone who engages with this extreme end of the far-right should be viewed with suspect. This includes profiteering, anti-vax doctors engaging in conspiracy.
If we don’t stop this sort of inflammatory speech by athletes, podcasters, news outlets, and a portion of the Republican party well aware of midterm elections and their current polling, we are going to have a January 6th at a hospital, right when you need us the most. Have we truly learned nothing in the past year? Two years? I don’t want to lose anymore of my friends and you don’t want to lose any of yours. Please, please get your vaccine.
I wish you had listened to us. There is no joy in saying I was right.