Daniel Horowitz Op-ed: Thanks to federal judge, we will find out extent of government-sponsored Twitter censorship
Daniel Horowitz | July 14, 2022
Can Congress pass a law requiring that all platforms of speech censor any negative comment about Pfizer? “Well, of course not,” you will say, “it violates the First Amendment.” In that case, why should it be different when the executive branch works intimately with government-created and liability-protected monopolies to zap anyone’s Twitter account who is critical of Pfizer and its magical products? That is not free market or private enterprise; it is the worst form of fascism, and now a new federal court ruling might bring this point to life.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Louisiana granted the request from the Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general for discovery to collect documents linking the Biden administration to social media censorship. Thanks to this important order, we might be able to discover the scope of collaboration between government and Twitter and Facebook to censor stories (and people) pertaining to the Hunter Biden laptop story, the origins of COVID-19, the efficacy of masks and lockdowns, and election integrity.
On May 5, Missouri AG Eric Schmitt and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry filed a First Amendment complaint against the Biden administration in the Western District of Louisiana alleging that the administration violated the Free Speech Clause by working with the tech giants to label all dissenting viewpoints on the aforementioned issues as “misinformation.” They alleged that this effort is being led by a “Disinformation Governance Board” (“DGB”) within the Department of Homeland Security.
In Judge Terry Doughty’s Tuesday order, he ruled that the states have standing to bring the claim and in an effort to buttress their request for an injunction against the federal collaboration in censoring private political views, they can request information from the Biden administration proving or disproving their allegations of collaboration with social media companies. The administration has 30 days to turn over the documents.
It’s already in the public sphere that the Biden administration has been leaning into social media censorship in numerous ways. Here are just a few examples:
- In a March 15, 2020, email with Dr. Fauci, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg proposed to coordinate with Fauci to “make sure people can get authoritative information from reliable sources” and proposed including a video message from Fauci because “people trust and want to hear from experts.” Remember, as a candidate running for president, Biden suggested that Facebook should be subject to liability for not censoring views he deemed harmful.
- On May 5, 2021, former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki stated, “The president’s view is that the major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation, and misinformation.”
- On July 15, Psaki went a step further and acknowledged the collaboration in private. “We are in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff,” she revealed. “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,” she added. This was a direct admission that what was going on behind the scenes was old-fashioned government censorship, which clearly violates the Constitution.
- After that press conference, Facebook responded to the pressure by acknowledging that “the company has partnered with government experts … to take ‘aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19.’”
- The following day, Psaki took it to the next level by suggesting that the various social media companies should be collaborating with each other to ban anyone from all the platforms after being removed from one. “You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others … for providing misinformation out there,” she declared. This is also the same day Surgeon General Vivek Murthy posted a misinformation advisory laying out the parameters for social media platforms to censor information on COVID and its policies.
- Then of course we all remember in February when the Biden administration directly called on Spotify to censor Joe Rogan for having doctors on his show who were successfully treating COVID.
Finally, let’s not forget that the White House singled out 12 private individuals to be targeted for censorship as the “disinformation dozen.” We also know that private emails released via FOIA revealed that the CDC Foundation worked with Facebook, Merck, the WHO, and other pharma entities on an “Alliance for Advancing Health Online” initiative to control the narrative.
Thus, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that there were likely some juicy conversations going on between the tech executives and the Biden administration, probably in concert with the pharma companies, to silence all opposition. When you have the president demanding such censorship and warning that the opposing viewpoints are “killing” people, the entire argument of “private” companies being able to do what they want goes out the window. As Justice Thomas wrote in a 2021 case, it is indeed a First Amendment violation “if the government coerces or induces it to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint.”
Thankfully, it appears that this judge saw through the high-tech modern version of censorship for what it is – pure fascism.
While the legal dispute plays out in court, it’s time for conservatives in the legislatures to hit back at the RINO governors for continuing to act as if anything COVID-related – be it a vaccine or mask mandate – is somehow coming from the private sector. The government mandated it for some, censored opposing viewpoints, absolved pharma of liability, paid for the product, distributed it, and marketed it. The notion that private actors endorsing these policies is an exercise in free-market capitalism is absurd. It is the responsibility of the state to interpose against such tyranny by banning companies from joining in with the federal policies.
We saw this done very effectively when the Florida Department of Health recommended against the baby shots and refused to distribute them. Publix actually decided on its own to follow the guidance of Florida rather than the federal government. It demonstrates that so much of this enforcement in the private sector is being done with the federal boot on companies’ necks. Those Republicans who hide behind affinity for the “private” sector and free markets to allow federal tyranny, censorship, and persecution to continue are complicit in the worst form of fascism. The fact that private monopolies get roped into government fascism doesn’t ameliorate the pig; it makes it even more dangerous.