Are you a Grammy-winning rapper with millions of social media followers who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine because it made your cousin’s friend’s testicles swell?
If so, the White House wants to talk.
However, if you are an ordinary Jane Q. Public who may be afraid the vaccine will make you infertile, the White House has a different message for you: Get the shot or get fired.
Press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged Thursday that the Biden administration has offered to explain the vaccines to Nicki Minaj one-on-one after the “Bang Bang” rapper made the eyebrow-raising claim that her cousin’s friend had become impotent after getting vaccinated to her 22.7 million Twitter followers earlier this week.
But the Biden administration has yet to hear if she will take them up on the offer.
“We offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she had about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” Psaki told reporters. “This is pretty standard and something we do all the time.”
The Trinidadian-born rapper, 38, tweeted Wednesday that she had been “invited” to the executive mansion, but Psaki claimed the idea was only being discussed “at staff levels” and noted that the White House was “not even at the point of discussing … the mechanisms or the format or anything along those lines. It was simply an offer to have a conversation and an early-stage call.”
When asked if Minaj would accept the offer, Psaki responded: “We’ll see. I don’t have anything to predict for you.”
Exactly seven days earlier, President Biden raged against unvaccinated Americans in a televised address, saying their “refusal has cost us all” and pronouncing that getting the shots was “not about freedom, or personal choice.”
In that speech, Biden announced the Labor Department would require companies employing more than 100 workers to make employees get the vaccine or institute weekly testing — or face hefty fines.
“We’ve been patient,” the president warned, “but our patience is wearing thin.”
Facing a potential public relations firestorm over the administration’s seeming kowtow to celebrity, Psaki was more conciliatory on Thursday, saying that while the administration hoped that “anyone who has a big platform is going to project accurate information about the effectiveness of the vaccine, the safety of the vaccine, and the availability of the vaccine, at the same time — it both can be true — we also recognize that people have questions out there.
“I would say that if we believed that everybody who had skepticism about the vaccine wasn’t someone we should engage with or talk to, we wouldn’t have made the progress we’ve made,” the press secretary added. “So part of our strategy and our objective, from the beginning, has been engaging with people who have questions, to help answer their questions.”
During an interview on CNN on Tuesday, Biden’s chief medical adviser on the vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked whether there is any evidence that the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson jabs can adversely affect male or female reproductive systems.
“The answer to that, Jake, is a resounding no. There’s no evidence that it happens — nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen, so the answer to your question is no,” Fauci responded, later adding that Minaj, “She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about.”
Minaj, meanwhile, accused Twitter of locking her out of her account over the posting, writing on Instagram: “They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block I guess. Asking questions is OK. I like being fkng dumb then boom. Can’t tweet.”
A Twitter spokesperson denied Minaj’s claim, telling Forbes the social networking site “did not take any enforcement action on the account referenced.”
Two months ago, Psaki revealed that the Biden administration had been identifying “problematic” posts for Facebook to censor because they contained “misinformation” about the vaccine. The press secretary alleged at the time that “there’s about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” a claim that was later contested by Facebook corporate officials.
Meanwhile, Minaj’s spurious claim about the vaccine, which Trinidadian authorities held a press conference to refute, are still visible on Twitter, which has previously suspended or banned vaccine skeptics like former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
But then again, neither has won any Grammys.