#Ballgate is spiraling wildly out of control. Four days on from the infamous tweet where Nicki Minaj said her cousin’s friend got swollen balls from the COVID-19 vaccine, she’s continuing to stir controversy online.
Now posting on Instagram, Minaj claimed Wednesday night that she’d been suspended from Twitter. “They didn’t like what I was saying over there,” she wrote, adding that “Asking questions is OK” and “i like being fking dumb.” In this case, she was “asking questions” about the efficacy of vaccination, attracting criticism for spreading anti-vax misinformation. Medical experts came forward in droves to debunk the idea that COVID-19 vaccines cause impotence.
The #FreeNicki hashtag was soon picked up on Twitter, attracting support from right-wing figures like Jack Posobiec. However, Twitter denies that Minaj was ever suspended in the first place. According to New York Times tech reporter Kate Conger, a Twitter spokesperson said the platform “did not take any enforcement action on the account referenced.”
Minaj is also under fire for sharing a clip from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who voiced his support for Minaj amid the backlash. He said that “our media and public health officials” attacked Minaj because she wanted people to make up their own minds about vaccination. She reposted the video with a bullseye emoji. Then when people criticized her for amplifying Tucker Carlson (“you know he’s a white nationalist right?”), she struck back, saying, “Right. I can’t speak to, agree with, even look at someone from a particular political party.”
While all this drama was unfolding on social media, the White House offered to arrange a phone call between Minaj and a doctor, hoping to allay her suspicions about the vaccine. The hope is that if Minaj learns more about vaccination, she could spread a more positive message to her tens of millions of followers.
But Minaj may have misunderstood the invitation because she tweeted that she’d been invited to visit the White House in person. According to the original White House statement, she was only offered an explanatory phone call. (In order to physically visit the White House, she would undoubtedly be required to get vaccinated anyway.)
The latest update came in the form of a 14-minute Instagram video where Minaj demanded, “Do y’all think I’d go on the internet and lie about being invited to the f***ing White House?” She claimed that when she and her management spoke to White House representatives, she was offered an in-person visit with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. According to Minaj, “I said, ‘Well, I would rather not have to travel. Can we do a Live? And they said they’re open to me choosing a platform to do a Live.” This obviously clashes with her earlier comment on Twitter: “Yes, I’m going.”
Basically, Minaj and the White House representatives hold different views of what went down during that phone call. An absurd but thematically appropriate new chapter in a story about how public figures can spread misinformation online.