Governments around the world are cracking down on free speech. What they are demanding includes the ability to read private encrypted text messages and invade homes in search of wrongspeech. Their demands thus go far beyond what the Censorship Industrial Complex was able to get away with over the last six years.
And things are getting worse. Last week, the European Union announced it would punish Twitter for withdrawing from its supposedly “voluntary” censorship laws. “Twitter leaves EU voluntary code of practice against disinformation,” said the EU’s top censor, Thierry Breton, “You can run, but you can’t hide. Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be a legal obligation under [the Digital Services Act] DSA as of August 25. Our teams will be ready for enforcement.”
Politico begs to differ. The Censorship Industrial Complex, it wrote last week, is an “unproven conspiracy theory that a group of left-leaning academics, think tanks, tech workers and government employees coordinated to silence right-wing voters ahead of nationwide votes. To be clear (looking at you, Twitter Files), none of this has been proved, and there’s evidence that right-leaning voices have a larger, not smaller, presence online compared with those on the left.”
But it’s not unproven. In fact, the existence, funding, and actions of the Censorship Industrial Complex are extremely well-documented at this point. Across thousands of pages of Attorneys’ General lawsuits, thousands of pages of Congressional reports and testimony, and hundreds of pages of Twitter and Facebook files themselves, it’s clear that here was a highly coordinated campaign by top White House officials, government agencies, and government-funded contractors to demand Twitter, Facebook, and other social media companies censor, in their own words, “often-true” content, including about drug side effects, both to prevent the public from seeing it but also to spread misinformation on behalf of a political agenda.
Politico did not, notably, provide any source or link to support its claim that “there’s evidence that right-leaning voices have a larger, not smaller, presence online compared with those on the left.” The reason might be that such “evidence” is a single highly selective study attempting to generalize about the whole of the social media experience through the lens of an outdated and simplistic Left-Right framework.
The picture many of us have of journalists is Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in “All The President’s Men,” or the journalists in “Spotlight,” “She Said,” and “The Post.” They are dogged seekers of the truth, determined to overcome any obstacle in their way of discovering it and reporting it to the world. They advocate giving voice to the voiceless and uncovering secretive and dangerous abuses of power by everyone from senior government officials to powerful corporate executives to religious leaders.
But the real-world behavior of many journalists today at top news media companies is the exact opposite. They plot secretly with the Aspen Institute, each other, and social media executives about how to kill stories damaging to the president. And they help former CIA Directors and “Fellows” spread ridiculous conspiracy theories, including that Russians stole the 2016 election, controlled Donald Trump through a video of prostitutes urinating on him, and had somehow stolen Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Rather than quote from different sides, these journalists denounce their enemies. They dismissed as “racist” and as a “debunked conspiracy theory” that COVID-19 might have escaped from a Chinese lab while insisting that it was somehow less racist and far-fetched to believe the virus traveled 1,000 miles from the countryside before sickening someone at a “live wet market.” And they demanded that Twitter de-platform disfavored voices like Twitter Files reporter Alex Berenson.
Why do so many journalists participate in the war on free speech, including the freest social media platform, Twitter? Last summer, Berenson released documents showing reporters from CNN and Axios, urging Twitter to suspend Berenson for criticizing vaccines. “It’s like librarians burning books,” he told Public yesterday. “Why are journalists attacking journalists?”
Why Journalists Attack Free Speech
In its attack on the Twitter Files, Politico repeats the party line of the EU, the Democratic Party, and the broader censorship industry. “What is worrying here is how efforts to stop foreign interference, hate speech, and other malign influences on U.S. democracy are being weaponized in ways to serve a political agenda,” Politico writes. “…this work is about holding platforms to account for their own terms of services and policies on combating harmful speech online.”
As such, the Politico attack on the Twitter Files is part of Wokeism, or victimhood ideology, which is the organic substructure to the superstructure of the Censorship Industrial Complex. All offensive speech, from saying that natural disasters are declining to natal males aren’t women, is, prima facia, “harmful,” and thus must be censored.
After making its sweeping claim that social media favors right-wing over left-wing voices, Politico writes, “Caveat: That article was done in collaboration with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based think tank specializing in tracking online extremists that has been accused of being part of this ‘complex.’”
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue is indeed one of the 50 top censorship organizations in the world, as identified by Matt Taibbi’s Racket, and one of the main propaganda arms of the US and UK governments, receiving funding from the U.S. State Department. It is currently lying and spreading disinformation about my views towards climate change. And we at Public recently caught it lying about “hate speech,” misclassifying Tweets criticizing George Soros and the World Economic Forum as “anti-Semitism,” allowing it to spread the Big Lie that “hate speech” is increasing, particularly on Twitter.
For Politico to wholly adopt the ISD message results from political alignment and, perhaps, money. Axios was receiving advertising money from Pfizer, including creating a video defending Big Pharma’s monopoly power and pricing, when its reporter, Ashley Gold, emailed Twitter to ask why it hadn’t de-platformed Berenson. We emailed Politico and Axios for comment but did not hear back.
Unfortunately, such financial motivations appear to be the rule, not the exception. The Guardian is, at this moment, preparing a hit piece on whale conservation organizations for opposing industrial wind energy development off the East Coast while taking money from the wind energy companies that stand to benefit. Pfizer poured money into news media organizations to promote not just its vaccine but also the crackdown on disfavored speech, like that of Berenson. And groups like ISD have vast US taxpayer funding to crank out “studies” that reporters at BBC, Politico, and other news media organizations don’t scrutinize.
Why are journalists attacking journalists and demanding censorship? It’s clear that there are both organic cultural and ideological reasons, as well as partisan political motivations. But there are also financial ones. Consider the mass media attacks on Joe Rogan, whose podcasting model has drawn viewers away from traditional media and up-ended the economics of the news industry. In other words, it’s not just that independent Substack journalists like Berenson threatens establishment orthodoxies. It’s also that we threaten the media’s credibility and viability.