Within just one hour of Twitter approving Elon Musk’s buyout deal of $44 billion, the legacy media began predicting – yet again – the very end of democracy in America. Calls for “accountability” and “transparency” were heard throughout the land from left-leaning outlets and even from the White House itself. And yet, inured to such hyperbole as the public has become, it seems on this occasion, the doomsayers have decided to add historical revisionism to the eclectic mix of fantasies in which they so frequently indulge.
After years of being in thrall to social media companies that have historically been out and open in support of Democrat policies and candidates, now that an unknown quantity – Elon Musk – is in the mix, it is battle stations for those who wish to continue the thrust of censorship without getting their hands too dirty.
The Fish Rots from Where?
Speaking to an eager press pool shortly after the Twitter deal was announced, White House Press Secretary – and soon-to-be media talking head – Jen Psaki responded to a question on whether the administration has any concerns that “this new agreement might have President Trump back on the platform.” Because, naturally, as the southern border collapses, inflation runs rampant, and Russia threatens nuclear war, the Swamp is concerned with potential mean tweets. Psaki answered:
“No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms, what they have – the power they have over our everyday lives; has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause.”
The president may have long made public statements on the matter, but as to any action, that has always been a blush too far. After all, why bite the hand that feeds you? Psaki continued:
“He has been a strong supporter of fundamental reforms to achieve that goal, including reforms to Section 230, enacting antitrust reforms, requiring more transparency, and more. And he’s encouraged that there’s bipartisan interest in Congress.
“In terms of what hypothetical policies might happen, I’m just not going to speak to that at this point in time.”
Now that Biden is apparently toying with the idea of reforming Section 230 – a provision which effectively allows social media platforms not to be treated as publishers – it is worth re-examining actions the president has taken in the recent past.
In May 2021, Biden rescinded President Trump’s Executive Order 13925 that sought to clarify elements of the Communications Decency Act, with a specific focus on Section 230. The National Law Review wrote that Trump’s action had reinforced “the status of CDA reform as a forefront policy debate in Congress.” In fact, any starting point for Joe Biden to overhaul the legislation would likely start with a proposal similar to Trump’s. That President Biden chose to shut down Trump’s EO suggests that at the time, he did not share the former president’s concerns over internet impartiality. What could it be that made him change his mind?
Thinking Fearful Thoughts
As columnist Max Boot noted before the Twitter deal was done, “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” And herein lies the seed that will likely bloom in the blighted soil of the Fourth Estate garden: moderation (censorship) must prevail for democracy to thrive.
If this appears oxymoronic, that’s because it is.
The Fourth Estate has been happy to give a free pass to social media censors over these last 5 years because the goals of those on the boards of directors have been in line with those of the political left. Politicians have pooh-poohed suggestions that conservatives bear the brunt of censorial algorithms and denied that any such thing as a “shadow ban” even exists.
One such voice that appears to be unaware of the historical record is MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent Ari Melber, who was suddenly aghast at the possibility that Twitter might take some kind of direct action. He incredulously lamented, “You could secretly ban one party’s candidate … secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not even find out about it until after the election.”
Is Mr. Melber unaware that this is precisely what happened with the Hunter Biden laptop story? Is he perhaps unfamiliar with the numerous right-leaning voices who have either been banned, entirely suspended, or ghosted on the ”de facto public square”? Or is he possibly hoping that his base – and more specifically, the Democrat voting base – will turn a blind eye towards his faux-outrage and tenuous grasp of verifiable facts?
Why is Twitter alone among the major tech platforms in being singled out for such dubious honors? The legacy media would have Americans believe that it is only the Blue Bird – and only in recent days – that is a threat to democracy. But the reality is far different. During the 2020 election, a little known group, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), received a donation from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla to the sum of $350 million. These “Zuck Bucks” were then distributed in a wave of schemes from voter registration to other seemingly innocent electoral practices. However, the way the money was distributed was anything but even.
As Liberty Nation’s Senior Political Analyst Tim Donner outlined:
“Putting the program into context at an even more granular level, Philadelphia, the most heavily funded county captured by Biden, received $6.32 per capita of this private funding, while the most provided to any Pennsylvania county won by Trump was $1.12. Across the eight states funded by CTCL, Biden counties were over 350% more likely to be funded by CTCL than Trump counties and received 480% more funding.”
To argue that Musk’s involvement in Twitter would have an outsized impact on the democratic process ignores completely the actual cases of big tech CEOs using their wealth and influence. But then, they were doing it in support of the political left. And that, indeed, is the rub.
The cozy coalition of politicians and media hacks has been happy to ignore the double-dealing and censorious nature of big tech because it benefited the cabal. It has ignored, disseminated, and deflected because it felt safe in the knowledge that the de facto public square was under its control. What Biden and his media cohorts really fear is the slim possibility of a level playing field; and that cannot, under any circumstance, be permitted.
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