Ron Johnson praises conservative author bashed by Fauci

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate facing 4 felony charges MORE (R-Wis.) on Monday praised a conservative author who has questioned the need for COVID-19 vaccines and last month drew a sharp rebuke from the country's leading public health official over his comments about the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Alex Berenson has been a courageous voice of reason throughout the pandemic. As a result he has been censored," Johnson said in a tweet sent from his official Senate account. "During his suspension on Twitter, you can find him on Substack. ... He provides a valuable counter perspective to the group-think mainstream media." 

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The author and activist, Alex Berenson, has downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus, questioned the need for lockdown restrictions and spoken openly about resisting mask mandates and vaccines since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

Last month, he sparked cheers from a crowd gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) when he celebrated the fact the U.S. had not reached President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE's nationwide vaccination rate goal. 

"The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated," Berenson told the crowd, which erupted in celebration. "And it isn't happening." 

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Biden's goal was vaccines for 70 percent of the country by July 4.

Days later, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciWatch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing Intercept reporters discuss gain-of-function research The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration MORE, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, called the moment at CPAC "horrifying." 

"I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives," Fauci said during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I mean, if you just unpack that for a second, Jake, it's almost frightening to say, 'Hey, guess what, we don't want you to do something to save your life,'" he continued. "'Yay.' Everybody starts screaming and clapping. I just don't get that. And I don't think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that. What is that all about? I don't understand that, Jake."

Several of Berenson's tweets about the coronavirus pandemic have been flagged by Twitter as misleading, containing bad information or unverified information. He warned followers over the weekend that Twitter might "cut him off."

Johnson earlier this year was hit with a rebuke from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the largest newspaper in his state, for what it described as the Republican senator's effort to "cast doubts about science, research, masks and other public health measures while promoting 'cures' with no evidence behind them."