Posted on July 7, 2023

Federal Judge Halts Federal Censorship

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, July 7, 2023

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One of the most misleading assumptions in American politics is that journalists are automatically opposed to government power and in favor of free speech. The reaction to a federal judge’s recent decision belies that idea. The decision banned the federal government from working with tech companies to censor Americans. Media outlets were outraged.

The Guardian quoted disgraced former bureaucrat Nina Jankowicz, briefly the head of the short-lived “Disinformation Governance Board” of the Department of Homeland Security. She became an “expert” for the British journalists to quote.

Restricting the ability of the Biden administration to work with social media companies in countering online conspiracy theories is a “weaponisation of the court system” that could devastate the fight against misinformation ahead of the 2024 presidential election, a leading expert has warned.

Nina Jankowicz, a specialist in disinformation campaigns, told the Guardian that an injunction imposed by a federal judge on Tuesday against key federal agencies and officials blocking their communication with tech platforms could unleash false information in critical areas of public life. She said that election denialism and anti-vaccine propaganda could be the beneficiaries.

“This is a weaponisation of the court system. It is an intentional and purposeful move to disrupt the work that needs to be done ahead of the 2024 election, and it’s really chilling,” she said.

MSNBC, with the headline “Misinformation Sickness,” told its audience that they are in danger. Chris Hayes called the decision a “head-scratcher.” He suggested Judge Terry Dougherty was sought out by Republicans partially because he was the judge who had barred a vaccine mandate for health workers during a “once-in-a-century pandemic.”

Mr. Hayes’s expert was former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance, whose legal and punditry career has been characterized by predictable liberal activism, including making “civil rights” complaints, undermining immigration law, and even saying the federal government should pay illegals who suffered from “family separations.” She told Mr. Hayes that the “two-way” exchange of information between the private sector and the federal government should be allowed. “None of us are safer with this sort of exchange shut down.” What exactly is it that Americans need to be protected from? She added that normally the Fifth Circuit would reverse the judge, but now, sadly, it is “uber-conservative.”

The Washington Post showed its concern in an article with the subheading “The Trump-appointed judge’s move could upend years of efforts to enhance cooperation between the government and social media companies.” It continued:

For more than a decade, the federal government has attempted to work with social media companies to address criminal activity, including child sexual abuse images and terrorism.

Over the past five years, coordination and communication between government officials and the companies increased as the federal government responded to rising election interference and voter suppression efforts after revelations that Russian actors had sowed disinformation on U.S. social sites during the 2016 election. Public health officials also frequently communicated with the companies during the coronavirus pandemic, as falsehoods about the virus and vaccines spread on social networks including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The Post also quoted an expert who said the court would “chill any kind of contact between government actors and social media platforms.” It’s revealing that the chilling effect such experts seem worried about isn’t the effect on citizens, but the effect on bureaucrats.

The New York Times seemed angry, framing the entire case as unreasonable conservatives disrupting public health efforts. “[The case] is being overseen by Judge Terry A. Doughty, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump and has previously expressed little skepticism about debunked claims from vaccine skeptics,” it said. “In one previous case, Judge Doughty accepted as fact the claim that ‘Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission of the disease.’”

The Times’s sneering about “debunked claims” is remarkable, because it is simply a fact that the vaccines do not prevent transmission of the disease. For example, the New York Times itself reported in July 2021:

C.D.C. officials were persuaded by new scientific evidence showing that even vaccinated people may become infected and may carry the virus in great amounts, perhaps even similar to those in unvaccinated people.

Like other outlets, the New York Times quoted “experts” hostile to the decision.

“The court’s order, which prevents the government from even speaking with tech companies about their content moderation policies, deals a huge blow to vital government efforts to harden U.S. democracy against threats of misinformation,” Leah Litman and Laurence H. Tribe wrote in the Just Security blog on Wednesday.

Vox was also concerned:

[The decision] comes as social media companies have been reducing their trust and safety teams in layoffs and in the wake of Twitter’s takeover by selective free speech “absolutist” Elon Musk, who has allowed previously banned speech to proliferate on Twitter. Forbidding government agencies to even communicate with platforms about certain kinds of content removes another potential way for the platforms to mitigate harmful speech, though it also removes any potential pressure those platforms may have felt to comply with government requests. But those same companies don’t have a great track record when left to their own devices, which is part of why the government has felt the need to step in this way in the first place.

Still, Vox had one of the most sensible conclusions of any of these articles. “It’s probably good news for people who think the government shouldn’t be in the position of even suggesting to a private company what speech should be allowed on its platforms,” it said.

One would think that would be obvious. A government dictating what people can and cannot say should be the very definition of an oppressive state. It’s revealing that so many powerful media outlets instead claim that this is “democracy.”

Race realists have a major stake in this fight. We were the first victims of deplatforming. Instead of being punished for “misinformation,” we were punished for telling the truth about race.

Unfortunately, this court decision doesn’t end the matter. The Biden administration is appealing the decision. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that administration officials “certainly disagree with this decision.” That doesn’t surprise me. Overwhelming media disagreement does, but perhaps it shouldn’t. Since 2016, it seems leading media outlets in this country are eager to serve as nothing more than power’s enforcers.