A free and independent press is the foundation and key mechanism for a functioning, free and healthy society. And this week illustrates what happens when it’s no longer free to function — it can interfere with elections.
In an age where a large segment of the population reads their headlines on social media before clicking to the actual news story, the two largest platforms — Facebook and Twitter — took it upon themselves to censor a major daily newspaper.
The New York Post led with a blockbuster story Wednesday that they’d acquired images and emails off a notebook computer allegedly owned by Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
A 2015 email the Post claimed it received indicates that Burisma advisor Vadym Pozharskyi thanked Hunter Biden for "giving an opportunity" to meet then-Vice President Biden. At the time, Hunter sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.
That flies in the face of Joe Biden’s previous statements that he has "never spoken to [his] son about his overseas business dealings."
Facebook was the first platform to censor the story, as reported by Andy Stone, the platform’s communications director.
"While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking partners," he said on Twitter. "In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform."
Facebook wasn’t Stone’s first job. He previously worked for former Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jerry McNerney, both California Democrats, as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC, a Democratic political action committee.
Then Twitter pounced. NPR reporter Shannon Bond said it was done in accordance with a long-standing policy.
"From Twitter spox," she reported: 'In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter.'"
Except these weren’t "hacked materials."
They allegedly came from a notebook computer dropped off at a repair shop and never retrieved. After 90 days the computer was abandoned.
On the heels of blocking the Hunter Biden story, Twitter actually promoted a Washington Post story that’s an outright lie. That was brought out by Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.
"Indisputably false claim Twitter placed at the top of their App on my phone, he tweeted: '"then-Vice President Biden played no role in pressuring Ukraine officials into firing the prosecutor.' Biden admitted to doing this & even bragged about threatening the loss of $1B if not done instantly."
When Twitter prevented the New York Post from promoting the story, others tried and Twitter responded by blocking their accounts in their entirety.
The blocked accounts included White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the official account of the Trump-Pence re-election campaign, and even a government account.
House Judiciary Committee Republicans decided to place the New York Post story on its own website, and then tweet that link to its followers.
"Twitter has blocked users from tweeting the link to the @nypost's story on Hunter Biden," they tweeted.
"So we put it on our website for you to read and share. Click, share, and RT!"
Twitter responded by blocking the House Judiciary Republicans — an official government account.
The accounts were eventually unblocked and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey offered a lame apology, admitting that its reaction "was not great."
However, it’s continuing to block the original story, and all follow-ups to it.
But it’s not just social media that’s trying to keep the Biden story under wraps. Major news outlets are doing the same, according to frequent Newsmax TV contributor Bill O’Reilly.
"Last night in prime time, CNN and MSNBC totally ignored the Hunter Biden story," he said. "This morning, Good Morning America and the CBS Morning program both ignored. The Today Show spent about 60 seconds on it. This is unprecedented corruption by the corporate media."
On the other hand, news outlets led with the Trump-Russian collusion story nearly every night for four years — even long after the Robert Mueller investigation debunked it.
The best cure for bad speech is more speech, was a principle advanced by the late Justice Louis Brandeis in Whitney v. California, a 1927 case.
"If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."
Crippling the public’s ability to speak and express itself freely is going in the wrong direction for a free society. Hamstringing what’s supposed to be a free and independent press is especially dangerous.
There’s always a reason when someone in power filters out every thought, word, fact and idea it doesn’t want disseminated to the general public.
That reason in this case is Nov. 3.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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