UPDATED, with comment from Jen Psaki: As Nicki Minaj has soaked up attention for her social media posts casting doubt on the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has offered to call her to answer questions.
“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,” a White House official said on Thursday.
Minaj on Monday posted on Twitter that she would not be going to the Met Gala because of its vaccine requirement. She then claimed,” My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen.”
The Biden administration response came after Minaj tweeted on Wednesday that they had invited her to the White House. “I think it’s a step in the right direction. Yes, I’m going. I’ll be dressed in all pink like Legally Blonde so they know I mean business. I’ll ask questions on behalf of the ppl who have been made fun of for simply being human. #BallGate day 3.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Minaj’s tweet at the daily briefing.
CBS News’ Nancy Cordes asked her, “Did the White House extend an invitation to Nicki Minaj to come here?”
“We don’t see this as a point of tension or disagreement. I want you all to know that we engage all the time with people who have big public platforms or profiles,” said Psaki, adding that they offered an “early stage call at the staff level — staff to staff.”
“We’re not even at the point of discussing the mechanisms or the format or anything along those lines,” she said. “It was simply an offer to have a conversation and an early stage call.”
Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave some indication of what kind of information Minaj would get if the call happens.
Fauci told CNN on Wednesday that the answer to whether vaccines cause reproductive issues in men or women was a “resounding no.”
“There’s no evidence that it happens, no is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” he said.
The Biden administration has recognized the power of social media celebrities and other famous figures have in spreading information about the vaccine, as it has enlisted performers like Olivia Rodrigo to encourage young people to get the shots. But, as CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out, celebrities with large social media followings can also quickly spread misinformation. He asked Fauci how the administration can counter it.
“It’s very difficult,” Fauci said. “There is a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know how to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information and to essentially debunk these kind of claims which may be innocent on her part. I’m not blaming her for anything. But she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis except for a one-off anecdote, and that is not what science is all about.”