A few days ago, the Atlantic Council interviewed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, Albert Bourla. Watching it was another one of those “I really wish I hadn’t, but it was too late because I already have” moments.
Journal Storage or JSTOR states The Atlantic Council (“Council”) “provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders.”
And the Council of the United Kingdom states it “is an entirely volunteer based charity; we survive through the generosity of supporters, and of course our members.”
But not everyone agrees and a quick search on the internet will show the Council is no stranger to controversy.
EU Today describes it as “one of the most prominent think tanks in Washington, but [with] some shady connections.”
A blog written in 2018 highlighting a partnership with Facebook – to help monitor misinformation and remove “inauthentic accounts” – lists five “frightening facts” about the Council including: “before partnering with Facebook, the Atlantic Council worked with the UK government to identify twitter accounts that they said spread disinformation.”
And, MintPress News described the Council / Facebook partnership as “an attempt to ensure the grip of dominant imperialist powers – militaries, multinationals, banks, and philanthropists – who feel threatened by the unrestricted flow of information and anti-systemic narratives on social media.”
The Council’s International Advisory Board includes the chief executives of several globally significant companies, and former prime ministers and presidents – Nick Clegg, Facebook’s (now Meta) Vice‑President for Global Affairs and Communications, is one of them.
Regardless of controversies, in the current environment, especially, any affiliation with Facebook (Meta), Twitter, Google or LinkedIn so-called “misinformation” or “disinformation” campaigns is likely to all but destroy an organisation’s reputation and the public’s trust in it.
The Council describes disinformation as “false or misleading information spread with the intention to deceive. When left unchecked, disinformation has the potential to sow confusion in public dialogue, exacerbate political polarisation, and promote distrust in our political systems and democratic institutions.” As we listen to the interview we are left wondering if the interviewer, Frederick Kempe, and Bourla may not have explored this part of the website or if they simply think it does not apply to them. Also, note Kempe’s use of “us” in the dialogue below.
Kempe, the Council’s President and CEO, asked: “There was some fake news during this period of time about the vaccines, you know, all sorts of conspiracy theories. How did you deal with that and how did you navigate that and where do you feel the primary source of this sort of fake news was? How damaging was this to us?” (33:44 mins start)
Bourla responded: “I’m afraid it [caused] quite a lot of damage and particularly with us, we were targeted by a lot of, let’s say, dark organizations that you don’t really know [who owns them]. You suspect that there are some countries behind. We were getting a lot of briefings from CIA, from FBI, about cyberattacks that may happen to us, but also about the spread of misinformation.
“You know, there are two groups of people: There are the people that they are vaccinated. There are people that are sceptical about the vaccination …Those that are getting the vaccine, they are afraid of the disease, and they believe that because people are not getting vaccinated, they are increasing the risk to them. They are increasing the exposure. So, they are mad with them that they don’t get the vaccine. Those that don’t get the vaccine, they’re afraid of the vaccine and they are mad with the people that are pressing them to get it.
“But there is a very small part of professionals [who] circulate, on purpose, misinformation so that they will mislead those that they have concerns [with the vaccine]. Those people are criminals. They’re not bad people. They are criminals because they literally cost millions of lives.”
You can read the transcript of Bourla’s interview HERE.
In psychology, projection is the process of displacing one’s feelings onto a different person. After this interview you can’t help feeling this is very much the case with both Kempe and, in particular, Bourla.
Verywell Mind describes the term psychopath: “It was originally used to describe individuals who were deceitful, manipulative, and uncaring. It was eventually changed to “sociopath” to encompass the fact that these individuals harm society as a whole. But over the years, many researchers have returned to using the word psychopath.” A Verywell Mind interview with Bourla would make interesting viewing. Although, it could very well fall under doctor / patient confidentiality laws and most likely wouldn’t be made available for public viewing. Maybe they would allow us to see one with Kempe?
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