Editor’s Note: Say What? is the segment of Liberty Nation Radio where we unveil some of the most wacky, astonishing, and damnable things uttered by politicians and the chattering class.
Tim Donner: For almost six hours, the CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple were grilled last week on every side, as members of Congress from the left and right expressed outrage at big tech for different reasons but with the same bottom line: These companies have altogether too much power. Power to monopolize the public conversation, power to shut down competition and silence voices that don’t agree with their left-wing corporate cultures. And they do so without fear of consequence or liability. The argument from the right was spearheaded by the man who has become the single most effective and outspoken conservative voice on Capitol Hill, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, and it was all about censorship.
Jim Jordan: I’ll just cut to the chase: Big tech’s out to get conservatives. That’s not a suspicion. That’s not a hunch. That’s a fact. July 20, 2020: Google removes the homepages of Breitbart and the Daily Caller. Just last night we learned Google has censored Breitbart so much, traffic has declined 99%. June 16, 2020: Google threatens to demonetize and ban The Federalist. April 19, 2020: Google and YouTube announce a policy censoring the content that conflicts with recommendations of the World Health Organization. Think about that. The World Health Organization. The organization that lied to us, the organization that shilled for China. And if you contradict something they say, they can say whatever they want. They can lie for China. They can shill for China. You say something against them, you get censored.
Tim: So conservatives are up in arms about the transparent left-wing, anti-conservative, anti-Trump bias, baked into all of these big tech giants. But the left has a different beef, as expressed by Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia and the chair of the congressional subcommittee holding the hearings, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and it was all about excessive, even monopoly power.
Lucy McBath: Amazon has nearly seven times the market share of its closest e-commerce competitor. One seller told us that, and I quote, “Amazon continues to be the only show in town, no matter how angry sellers get, they have nowhere else to go.” So are you saying that these people aren’t being truthful when they say that Amazon is the only game in town?
David Cicilline: Many of the practices used by these companies have harmful economic effects. They discourage entrepreneurship, destroy jobs, hike costs, and degrade quality. Simply put, they have too much power. Why does Google steal content from honest businesses?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai: I disagree with that characterization. Just last week, I met with many small businesses. In fact, today we support 1.4 million small businesses.
Tim: “We don’t bury the competition with monopoly power. We support a lot of small businesses.” Is it just me, or doesn’t that sound a bit like “I’m not a racist, some of my best friends are black”?
But given that we have this show of shared outrage from both Republicans and Democrats, the question now is, will anything actually get done? President Trump has threatened executive action, unspecified as of now, if Congress fails to act. The heart of the matter is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields platforms like Facebook from being held legally responsible for what’s posted on their site. Here’s exactly how that Section 230 is worded: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” But if they pick and choose what content they publish, they could then be reclassified as a publisher, subject to the same liability laws — i.e., getting sued — as magazines, newspapers, and online websites. And that is the last thing these big tech giants can afford.
But the big tech CEOs weren’t the only ones grilled by Congress during the week. Attorney General Bill Barr was called on the carpet, compelled to testify on a number of decisions he’s made in an attempt by the House Judiciary chairman, the one and only Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, to discredit all his work and accuse him of simply being a flack for President Trump.
Jerry Nadler: In your time at the department, you have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president. In coordination with the White House, the department has spread disinformation about voter fraud, failed to enforce voting rights laws, and attempted to change the census rules to flaunt the plain text of the Constitution. And even defied court orders on this subject. All in the apparent attempt to assist the president’s re-election … Yes or no — have you discussed the president’s re-election campaign with the president or with any White House official or any surrogate of the president?
Bill Barr: Not in relation to this program.
Jerry Nadler: I didn’t ask that. I asked if you discussed that …
Bill Barr: I’m a member of the Cabinet and there’s an election going on, obviously the topic comes up.
Jerry Nadler: Then it’s yes.
Bill Barr: The topic comes up in Cabinet meetings and other things. It shouldn’t be a surprise … I’m supposedly punishing the president’s enemies and helping his friends. What enemies have I indicted? Could you point to one indictment that has been under the department that you feel is unmerited?
Tim: This an obvious hedge by Democrats against any actions Barr might take in his investigation of spying on the Trump campaign, and Jim Jordan — him again — said it’s all quite obvious.
Jim Jordan: Spying, that one word. That’s why they’re after you, Mr. Attorney General. They attack you. They’ve been attacking you every day, every week for simply stating the truth that the Obama-Biden administration spied on the Trump campaign. One year ago, a New York Times headline said this: “FBI sent investigator posing as assistant to meet with Trump aide in 2016. The FBI sent a young lady who used the name Asra Turk to meet [George] Papadopoulos in September of 2016.” They sent someone pretending to be someone else to meet a person associated with the Trump campaign. You know what they call that? Spying. One month later, October 2016, they used the dossier to spy on Carter Page, the salacious unverified dossier. Jim Comey’s words, not mine. They took it to the FISA court. Didn’t tell the courts that the Clintons paid for it. Didn’t tell the court that the guy who wrote the document, Christopher Steele, had already communicated to the Justice Department that he was desperate to stop Trump from getting elected.
Tim: Whether the real story, the full story of the Obama Justice Department spying on the Trump campaign is ever heard by the American people is decidedly uncertain at this point, because the elite media will do all they can to bury and discredit it and call it old news. But at this point, waiting for Barr to even make a move has been like waiting for Godot. Still no indication as to when he might issue a report or announce indictments.
Meanwhile, President Trump, still running behind in public polls — the same polls predicting a smashing victory for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — hit the ground running with a crystal-clear campaign message in an appearance before a Texas energy group. And it was not so much about him but about the forces backing his opponent, Joe Biden.
President Trump: It’s not just Texas oil that the radical Democrats want to destroy. They want to destroy our country. These people are sick. They don’t love our country. There’s no respect for the American way of life. There is no way of life ever in history that’s been like the great American way of life. The radical left wants to tear down everything in its way. They want to uproot and demolish every American value. They want to wipe away every trace of religion from national life. They want to indoctrinate our children, defund our police, abolish the suburbs, incite riots, and leave every city at the mercy of the radical left.
Tim: Not much ambiguity there. Full-strength Trump. The only question is whether this country has changed so profoundly over the last four years that a message like that lacks the power it did in 2016. And only the voters can decide if the threat he so explicitly described there is exaggerated or real.
Read more from Tim Donner.