You know when would be a good time to stop doubling down on some unmitigated (and easily disproven) mess? The minute you have to pull out Tucker Carlson in your defense, because—girl, no. Nevertheless, that’s what Nicki Minaj did on Wednesday, following mass pushback to her online claims that the COVID vaccine had caused adverse side effects—including swollen testicles and impotence—in her now-infamous “cousin’s friend” in Trinidad.
Minaj’s tweets, initially offered as part of an explanation for her absence from Monday night’s Met Gala, exploded into what the rapper has dubbed #BallGate in the days since, as the eyebrow-raising anecdote drew both laughs and ire from her 22.7 million followers. The ire was understandable amid a pandemic that has to date claimed the lives of over 667,000 Americans, a disproportionate number of them Black, according to data collected as of March 2021. The majority of Minaj’s following being Black as well, one of her avowed fans, MSNBC’s Joy Reid, called her out on Monday night’s The Reid Out, drawing swift backlash from the rapper in return, as we reported on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening, it was Dr. Anthony Fauci’s turn to shut down Minaj’s claims during an appearance with Jake Tapper on CNN.
“There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” said Fauci, who was appearing on Tapper’s The Lead In to give updates on the ongoing vaccination effort, especially in already skeptical Black and Hispanic communities.
“There’s a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information; to essentially debunk these kinds of claims, which may be innocent on her part.” said Fauci with regard to Minaj. “I’m not blaming her for anything, but 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,” he added.
As The Root reported just prior to Minaj’s Carlson tweet on Wednesday, the health department of Trinidad and Tobago echoed Fauci in its own dismissal of the rapper’s claims, following an investigation on the islands. Health Minister Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh further stated that there was no known incidence of the aforementioned side effects “anywhere else in the world.”
Undeterred by facts, Minaj seemingly ignored the statements from her country of birth, instead boasting that she’d been invited to the White House to discuss the issue, which she felt was “a step in the right direction.”
“Yes, I’m going,” she tweeted. “I’ll be dressed in all pink like Legally Blonde so they know I mean business. I’ll ask questions on behalf of the [people] who have been made fun of for simply being human.”
To be clear: Minaj’s humanity has never been in question. Her veracity, however, is another issue. As both CNN anchor Don Lemon and his network confirmed, Minaj was not, in fact, invited to visit the White House but was invited to take part in a call “with one of the Biden administration’s doctors to answer questions about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines,” a White House official told CNN.
More from CNN:
The offer came after Minaj posted false information about the vaccines on Twitter and the rapper had claimed on Wednesday that she had been invited to the White House and that she was going. A source told CNN that Minaj has not been invited to the White House.
In addition to Minaj, the White House has offered to make Biden administration doctors available to others in order to answer questions about vaccines, the official said, as it attempts to combat misinformation.
However, during an extensive off-camera rant on Instagram Live on Wednesday night, Minaj maintained she’d received an in-person invite to speak with both Fauci and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. She also claimed to be the target of a “hateful and purposeful” attack intended to “assassinate” her character.
“Do you think I would lie about being invited to the White House?” she asked. “Like, what?” Contradicting her earlier statement that she’d planned to go, she then stated that, cautious to travel, she’d suggested doing an IG Live with Fauci and Murthy, which didn’t come to fruition. She then took direct aim at Reid and Lemon (both of whom she referred to as “Uncle Tomiana”), and Black media she alleges are being “used” to undermine “a smart woman” to make her look “crazy or stupid.”
“Peep this: the first attack was from a Black woman,” she said. “Now, this thing to assassinate my character is from an “Uncle Tomiana”—Black—quote-unquote ‘Black man,’ when 80 percent of the artists y’all followin’ right now feel like I feel about the vaccine, and are too afraid to speak on it.”
Last time we checked, artists are not scientists—and we’ve seen far too many of our treasured artists infected with and even dying of COVID over the course of this ongoing crisis. While we fully support anyone having questions about what the vaccine includes or how it interacts with the immune system, the information has been readily available for some time. Still, less than 60 percent of the total US population is currently vaccinated, largely due to the spread of misinformation—and again, the information is out there. As a White House official said in a statement to CBS News: “As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.”
However, Minaj would seemingly not like that to distract from her assertion that this is a well-coordinated and orchestrated attack on her personally. On Wednesday night, she attempted to confirm this by telling followers her Twitter account had been suspended.
“I’m in Twitter jail y’all,” Minaj wrote in an IG Story (h/t CBS News). “They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block.”
“A Twitter spokesperson told CBS News in a statement that Twitter ‘did not take any enforcement action’ on Minaj’s account,” the outlet reported, noting this was despite the fact that “the company has suspended several major figures in the past for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.”
“As of Wednesday night, Minaj’s account was still active,” CBS added.
Corrected: Thursday, 9/16/21 at 3:45 p.m., ET: As noted by several of our eagle-eyed readers, an earlier version of this article misstated that most of the U.S. lives claimed by COVID were Black. That is incorrect—though, as has been well documented Black and brown populations have been disproportionately affected. The article has been corrected to reflect this.