One Nicki Minaj tweet after another is being debunked this week.
The pop star said Wednesday that she had been invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to discuss her recent tweets about coronavirus vaccines, but the White House responded that it had just offered her a phone call. After she said she had been locked out of her Twitter account over the same tweets, Twitter said it had not penalized her in any way. When she cited a secondhand story about a cousin’s friend’s testicles swollen as the result of a coronavirus vaccine, top public health officials in multiple countries said her claims were false.
A White House official told The Daily Beast: “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.”
Dubbing the rolling controversy over her vaccine hesitancy “Ballgate,” Minaj said Wednesday that she had even planned her outfit for the occasion.
“The White House has invited me & 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,” she tweeted.
The rapper made it seem as though the tweet would be her last, at least for a while. She wrote via Instagram the same evening that she was in “Twitter jail” and unable to post.
“I’m in Twitter jail y’all. They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block, I guess. My poll was gonna be ‘Asking questions is OK/I like being fking dumb.’ Then boom. Can’t tweet,” she wrote.
Twitter, however, said that it had not levied any penalty against her. The company said in a statement: “Twitter did not take any enforcement action on the account referenced.”
The supposed invitation to the White House arose from a headline-making announcement the pop star made at the start of this week: She would not be attending Monday’s Met Gala, which required attendees to be vaccinated. She has not been immunized, and if she did get the jab, she tweeted, it “won’t [be] for the Met.” She said she would likely get vaccinated before going on tour.
She followed up the admission with the justification that she was waiting until “I feel I’ve done enough research,” which included a bizarre secondhand tale from a cousin.
“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied,” she wrote.
The story set social media aflame with jokes and corrections that reached the highest levels of public health. Both Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trinidad’s Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh responded: Her claims were false. Fauci said of impotence and the swollen testicles, “There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen.” Deyalsingh said the country’s health department had found “absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event” that corresponded to her story.
Before she was allegedly locked out of her Twitter account, Minaj spent much of Wednesday and the preceding two days responding to praise and anger over her vaccine hesitancy. Minaj’s fans, whom she refers to as “Barbz” after her own moniker of “Barbie,” appeared divided over her skepticism and apoplectic over her subsequent alignment with a strange bedfellow: Tucker Carlson.
The Fox News host devoted two nights of coverage to the saga of Minaj’s cousin’s friend on his eponymous show, even urging the man to call in. The rapper tweeted a clip Wednesday, calling Carlson’s segment a “bullseye” with an emoji. In the video, Carlson said, “It’s not anything to do with the physical effects of the vaccines that makes our political class mad. It’s the last part of Nicki Minaj’s tweet that enrages them, the part where she says you should pray on it, make the decision yourself like a free human being and ‘don’t be bullied.’ So our media and public health officials didn’t like this because they make their livings bullying people, so they couldn’t let it stand.”
One fan wrote of Carlson, “Naur Nicki he’s a racist and white supremacist.”
The pop star responded, referencing MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid’s criticism of her tweets: “The black woman lied on me & made ppl attack me. But I can’t quote this man who did the opposite. Okay. F--K HIM. YASSSSSSSWOOHOOOOOOOOOO happy now? Brain dead.”
Twitch streamer Hasan Piker replied to her, “You know he’s a white nationalist right?”
Minaj responded with defiance: “Right. I can’t speak to, agree with, even look at someone from a particular political party. Ppl aren’t human any more. If you’re black & a Democrat tells u to shove marbles up ur ass, you simply have to. If another party tells u to look out for that bus, stand there & get hit.”
Late Wednesday, after the White House released its statement, Minaj offered a full-throated rebuttal on Instagram Live. “Do y’all think I would go on the internet and fucking lie about being invited to the fucking White House?” she asked.