Whether the Hunter Biden email story is the gospel truth or a Republican-led October surprise matters not; what should concern all Americans is the ability to have unfettered access to the news to make independent, informed decisions. However, this liberty is diminishing with lightning speed. Everyone on the right has been railing about this and preparing to fight the good fight. It now appears Silicon Valley has provided them with an ideal opportunity to make their case and prepare for government restrictions that will fundamentally alter the way they do business.
The president and founder of the Media Research Center, L. Brent Bozell, has been at the forefront of this battle for some time and is now demanding something be done about the abuse that conservatives have had to deal with for years from the social media gods. The Biden email articles published in the New York Post only metastasized the problem regarding these self-appointed arbiters of the truth. This prompted a hue and cry in the conservative media and a firestorm on Capitol Hill signaling that the right is mad as hell and refusing to serve as the whipping boy for the mega-tech giants any longer.
Thus far, Bozell and two Republican senators have indicated it is time for action. Mr. Bozell calls for the “immediate suspension” of Andy Stone, Facebook’s policy communications director. Stone was the one who put forth the word that the tech giant would be “reducing its [the NYP article] distribution on our platform” until the fact-checkers check the facts.
In an article for Fox News, Mr. Bozell points out the rank hypocrisy of Facebook cherry-picking which stories to censor and which to promote. The MRC’s top gun noted, “But stories like the disputed Atlantic article claiming Trump said awful things about our military, those seldom get fact-checked. But this likely will. Facebook’s communication director is begging its leftist fact-checkers to do its dirty work.” Then he landed a few punches by asserting, “So much for that fair election nonsense we’re taught in school. The social media companies don’t want that to happen. And they have no hesitation to do what they must do to ensure their candidate wins. If you have any doubts about that, Facebook just apparently declared for Team Biden.”
Before we send Facebook to the firing squad, Twitter has some explaining to do. For a brief time on Thursday, October 15, they “locked” the account of Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany as well as the official Trump Campaign Twitter account:
19 days out from the election. pic.twitter.com/Z9FFzridyr
— Mike Hahn (@mikehahn_) October 15, 2020
These are not liberty-minded people. Americans, they assume, are not capable of separating fact from fiction and must be told what is true and what is false. This does not sit well with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). He joined the censorship backlash and dashed off a nastygram to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on U.S. Senate stationery that read, in part:
“Twitter is not only prohibiting users from sharing this story on their own accounts, it is prohibiting the New York Post itself from posting its own content. Twitter well-knows its incredible ability to influence public dialogue by promoting some stories while suppressing others, and it has plainly decided that the American people should not be seeing or discussing this particular story, which could significantly influence voters’ views of candidate Biden.
But Twitter’s censorship of this story is quite hypocritical, given its willingness to allow users to share less-well-sourced reporting critical of other candidates for public office. Accordingly, this can only be seen as an obvious and transparent attempt by Twitter to influence the upcoming Presidential election.”
The Senator from Texas essentially doubled down on Bozell’s point and then went on to demand Twitter provide potentially damaging information about their operation to the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution. His request also queried who was behind the decision to remove the Post story and whether the newspaper was made aware of the censorship and “afforded” the opportunity to dispute the decision.
Then he moved in for the kill: “If Twitter did not prevent Buzzfeed from sharing its reporting on the Steele dossier or the New York Times reporting on President Trump’s tax returns, please explain a politically neutral principle for why the reporting is treated differently?”
“It is – big tech censorship has always been bad, but they’ve really crossed the line in the last 24 hours,” Sen. Cruz continued in a Fox News interview, before saying that “silencing the media is a direct violation of the principles of the First Amendment.” Is he right – are we indeed seeing “Silicon Valley billionaires, frankly, drunk with power”? Cruz also wanted to know if this type of censorship has been leveled against the Washington Post or New York Times. This has prompted Republican committee leaders to ask the senate panel for a vote to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey next week.
MRC’s Bozell pointed out that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) sent a similar letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, October 14. Indeed, these tech censors have some explaining to do when they testify before the Senate Commerce Committee and are likely to take a lot of heat for this egregious censorship of private speech.
The sheer ferocity of response from Cruz, Bozell, Hawley, and others appears to have the tech bosses ready to negotiate. Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust & safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, announced some immediate changes:
“1. We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them
2. We will label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter”
If conservatives are wise they will take this as a starting bid and go from there. These tech giants have finally overreached and outed themselves. The tipping point is here and it’s high time for these Silicon Valley behemoths to fess up and start making some changes before Congress does it for them.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.