Jim Jordan’s ‘Amazon Files’ Reveals Biden White House Pressure on Company to Censor Books

Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, during a hearing in Washington, DC, US,
Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) took to X/Twitter on Monday to post “never-before-released internal emails” subpoenaed by the House Judiciary GOP that he dubbed the “Amazon files,” which reveal “that the Biden White House pressured Amazon to censor books that expressed views the White House did not approve of.”

“Internal docs subpoenaed by @JudiciaryGOP & @Weaponization indicate that @amazon bowed down to Biden White House pressure to censor BOOKS,” Rep. Jordan announced at the start of his X/Twitter thread.

The congressman followed up with screenshots of the internal emails, one of which read, “Hi all — here are the notes for our Pre-brief discussion with the White House today.”

Beneath that was an item on an agenda, titled, “Books Curation and Guidelines 101,” and a bullet punt under it that asked, “Is the Admin asking us to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both)?”

In another post, Rep. Jordan highlighted an internal email from March 2021, in which senior Biden White House official Andy Slavitt demanded to know who he and his Biden administration colleagues could talk to at Amazon about content they did not approve of on the website.

Jeff Bezos (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden arrives to deliver his keynote speech at Ulster University in Belfast, during his visit to the island of Ireland. Picture date: Wednesday April 12, 2023. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Who can we talk to about the high levels of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation of Amazon?” the internal email read.

The congressman also noted that the Biden White House “ran keyword searches for controversial topics,” such as “vaccine,” and emailed Amazon when it didn’t like how the search results appeared.

“If you search for ‘vaccines’ under books, I see what comes up. I haven’t looked beyond that but if that’s what’s on the surface, it’s concerning,” one email from Slavitt read.

At first, Amazon decided to hold off on “doing a manual intervention” to censor books, not out of concern for free speech, but because the company felt censoring the content would be “too visible” to the American public, and likely spur criticism from conservative media, Rep. Jordan said.

“We will not be doing a manual intervention today. The team/PR feels very strongly that it is too visible, and will further compound the Harry/Sally narrative (which is getting the Fox News treatment today apparently), and won’t fix the long-term problem because of customer behavior associations,” an internal email from an Amazon staffer read.

The Amazon employee goes on to say, “I’ve asked the team to widen the search light flag for COVID-19 CDC website re-direct so that it comes to the top of the page on more search keys. They can hopefully implement that today,” adding, “The WH will probably ask why we don’t tag the content like FB/Twitter do if we aren’t taking it down.”

In another post, the congressman pointed out an email in which an Amazon staffer explains, “We believe that retailers are different than social media communities,” adding, “As a retailer, we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”

One week later, Amazon met with the Biden White House, Rep. Jordan said in a follow-up post.

Internal documents reveal Amazon’s “top talking points” ahead of the meeting with the White House, one of which included the question of whether the Biden administration wanted certain books banned or just buried deep in the search results.

The congressman said Amazon agreed to take this meeting because they were “feeling pressure from the White House.”

“The Books team has a meeting on 3/19 with [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted] to take a closer look at books related to vaccine misinformation and debating additional steps Amazon might want to take to reduce the visibility of these titles,” an internal Amazon email read.

“The Books Content Risk Management team is still working on their doc for the 3/19 meeting,” the email continued, adding, “PP is feeling pressure from the White House Taskforce on this issue as well.”

In another post, the Ohio congressman highlighted an internal email in which an Amazon employees notes, “We did enable Do Not Promote for anti-vax books.”

“Amazon caved to the pressure from the Biden White House to censor speech,” Rep. Jordan concluded in his thread, adding that the House Judiciary GOP and Weaponization Committee “are investigating.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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