by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s hardly news that the government has long managed news reporting through a combination of leaks, favored treatment, and threats. With the growth of social media and the COVID-19 “pandemic,” the Biden administration blatantly used every tool in its arsenal to censor constitutionally protected free speech. Posters on the pre-Musk Twitter and Facebook, to take the most obvious examples, were regularly shadow banned and even silenced altogether from posting alternate views to those of the government. This week, Judge Terry A. Doughty in a 155-page memorandum detailed the government’s manipulation of social media. Based on what was presented to the court, he enjoined agencies, officers, and employees from HHS, NAIAD, CDC, FBI, DoJ, White House, OMB, DHS , and DoS from continuing their practices. Those practices, which the judge characterized as “almost dystopian,” included flagging posts and “urging encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech. It also bans their working with the “Election Integrity Partnership, the Virality Project, the Stanford Internet Observatory, or any like project or group for the purpose of urging suppression or reduction of content posted with social-media companies containing protected free speech.” The public officials threatened the social-media companies with adverse consequences for noncompliance, including reforming Section 230 immunity, antitrust enforcement, and increased regulations if they failed to comply. It’s clear that these tactics allowed the Biden Administration to suppress free speech through proxies where to have done so directly would have resulted in more immediate scrutiny and judicial halt. The memorandum is a well-documented history of the Administration’s unconstitutional control of information.
While a great deal of the suppression concerned COVID-19’s origin, the government response, and treatments, the judge found it was very wide reaching: Suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the 2020 election; suppressing speech about the lab-leak origin of COVID-19,the efficacy of masks, lockdowns, and the vaccines; suppressing speech about the election integrity of the 2020 election and voting by mail. …