The Left Is Opening A Full-Scale War On Free Speech
When President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office on Jan. 20 of next year, he will be under increasing pressure from members of the left in media and politics to intensify the war on free speech, likely in the name of preserving and stabilizing democracy.
The left has been largely successful at excising conservative viewpoints from America’s college campuses, and some left-wing personalities — even former President Barack Obama — have turned their attention to removing real and alleged disinformation from the internet. Others have pointed out individuals claiming they have the judgment to determine which ideas are deemed acceptable more often than not line up squarely with their political priors.
Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s show Reliable Sources, recently did a segment on what he labeled the “Pro-Trump Media Universe.” Stelter’s compiled list of “disinformation” outlets and personalities were all right-leaning and included Fox News, Newsmax, One America News, and the Daily Caller among others.
“There is an entire constellation of websites and talk shows that are in denial just like Trump,” Stelter claimed. “They are supplying disinformation about the election results, and wherever there’s a huge supply, there is a high demand.”
Former Obama staffer and Crooked Media Founder Tommy Vietor wrote a Nov. 16 piece on his website titled “Why Joe Biden Must Sideline Fox.” For far too long, Vietor says, Fox News has wrongly been treated “as a legitimate news organization,” primarily because the left “lost [its] nerve.”
Vietor said there has been a “near-total failure by Democrats and the media to accurately brand” Fox News as “an extension of the Republican Party.” He suggested the Biden administration should “[a]pproach Fox News with eyes, not arms, wide open.” He encouraged taking action to delegitimize Fox and other right-wing networks. One of the ways Vietor said he believes that can be accomplished is giving media access and information to “progressive outlets like The Nation, The Young Turks, and yes, Crooked Media.”
In conclusion, Vietor said the left has “to start that process now to blunt the distorting effect this cancerous institution [Fox News] has on our politics and our ability to respond to the nation’s next crisis. It’s time to stop caring so much about being balanced, and start caring more about being fair.”
It’s not just Obama’s former staffers suggesting conservative media influence can and ought to be corralled. In a recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Obama himself called misinformation on the internet “the single biggest threat to our democracy.”
Social media platforms and tech companies “are making editorial choices, whether they’ve buried them in algorithms or not. The First Amendment doesn’t require private companies to provide a platform for any view that is out there. At the end of the day, we’re going to have to find a combination of government regulations and corporate practices that address this, because it’s going to get worse,” Obama said.
“If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work,” Obama said. “And by definition, our democracy doesn’t work. We are entering into an epistemological crisis.”
However, others — even some who have long been members of the left — have grown increasingly worried about the left’s inclination to censor speech. Bari Weiss made headlines when she left The New York Times after authoring a scathing resignation condemning the progressive, conformist culture of the nation’s second-largest newspaper.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald recently left The Intercept, a left-leaning media company he co-founded after it refused to publish criticisms of Biden. Greenwald directly responded to Obama’s comments about the internet on Twitter. “There is no question that Democrats are gearing up to use their new power to apply far more pressure than ever on Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. to censor any views they deem ‘threatening,’” he said.
Greenwald went on to say, “Democrats are defining whoever opposes them not as adversaries but as national security threats, fascist terrorists, etc. — all to justify blocking them from the internet using their influence with Silicon Valley.”
He also pointed out that left-leaning outlets are among those “most loudly” decrying “disinformation,” despite their track record of selling “the bullshit of the Iraq War” and “the last 4 years of deranged Russia-took-over! conspiratorial insanity.”
“They want their discourse monopoly back,” Greenwald concluded.
Progressive journalist Zaid Jilani also commented on Obama’s remarks in The Atlantic Interview. “I wish politicians like him would be more honest than they think the problem is too much freedom of information and too much democracy, rather than framing everything they want as democracy,” he tweeted.
I wish politicians like him would be more honest than they think the problem is too much freedom of information and too much democracy, rather than framing everything they want as democracy. https://t.co/WVq74ShRd8
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) November 17, 2020
“Authoritarian is seen a slur in America but it’s an ideology there’s a logic behind it: you don’t trust common people enough to rule and you’d prefer an authority told them what and how to think. Just defend that proposition instead of pretending that’s not what you believe,” Jilani concluded.
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