In a letter dated the 23rd of April, 2021, four Guest Editors publicly resigned from the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology. Professor Maria Cristina Albertini, Professor Piero Sestili, Dr. Robert Malone, and Dr. Howard Haimes stepped down in protest over executive decisions not to publish two papers showing positive results of various agents in protecting against or treating COVID-19.
In early March, the ivermectin paper, authored by members of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), was “taken down” after “editors determined that it contained unsubstantiated claims and violated the journal’s editorial policies”, which sounds a lot like the language used by social media sites censoring science that does not fit the approved narrative these days. Reported at The Scientist:
After being contacted by The Scientist, the journal posted a statement from Frontiers’s chief executive editor, Frederick Fenter, saying that “Frontiers takes no position on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19, however, we do take a very firm stance against unbalanced or unsupported scientific conclusions.”
That statement was entirely vague about the reasons for the paper’s rejection.
Apparently, the manager assigned to support the guest editors disappeared when the questions came rolling in about these rejections.
According to the paper’s lead author, Dr. Pierre Kory, communication about any problems by Frontiers was entirely lacking:
Responding to the Frontiers statement’s invitation to the authors to submit a revised version of the paper, Kory says that while he would have been open to removing mentions of his own team’s treatment protocol, he doesn’t want to work with the journal again. “There was no communication with us, no telling us of their concerns, no discussion” during this process, he says. “The idea that I would resubmit to that journal is fairly preposterous, don’t you think?”
The claims made by the resigning guest editors suggest that Frontiers Chief Executive Editor Dr. Frederick Fenter slowed the publication process and tried to steer the ivermectin research into something like “the ghetto of the journal”.
It is noteworthy that Frontiers has had adversarial relationships with editors in the past. Those doing the work of reviewing papers in Frontiershave long complained over having little to no control over actual publication decisions, regardless of their opinions about the research. This and other problems eventually led to a 2015 “Manifesto of Editorial Independence of Editors of Frontiers Medical Journals“. Dr. Fenter fired all 31 signatory editors at the time.
It might be said that unilateral power over publishing decisions in science represents a critical moral hazard. Such a singular point of failure might even lend itself to something like a “crime of the century“.