- The Washington Times
Tuesday, February 23, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democrats, for the past four years, were absolutely horrified by President Donald J. Trump’s pending authoritarianism and assault on this nation’s First Amendment rights.

The Washington Post lamented: “Trump keeps threatening the freedom of speech.” The Atlantic wrote of “Trump’s warped definition of free speech,” and USA Today opined: “Trump 2020 plan: New threats to press freedom and trust in media pillars of our democracy.”


Now, after winning full control of the legislative branch and the White House, Democrats are wielding their newfound power to limit free speech in ways the former president never dreamed. 

Two Democratic members of Congress wrote a letter Monday to the chief executive officers of the country’s largest television providers, bullying them into purging Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network from their cable lineups on the basis of them promoting “misinformation and conspiracy theories.”

Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney want these cable providers to apply some newfound “moral or ethical principles … related to journalistic integrity,” in determining what content they should allow to be disseminated on their platforms.

They’re demanding these providers explain the steps they took following the Nov. 3 election and up to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot “to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including the encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans.”  

They want detail on each step and when it was taken, including any adverse actions against the channels Fox, Newsmax and OANN.

The same people who spent four years claiming to be worried about authoritarian rule are absolutely committed to using their newfound power to silence dissenting voices. I dare you: Name something — anything — former President Trump did that more seriously endangers freedom of press than this.

Yet, the mainstream media and Silicon Valley are in agreement — cheering on this authoritarian rule. 

Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer for Facebook, suggested on CNN that AT&T, Comcast and other cable providers should rethink their carriage of right-wing outlets like Fox News and Newsmax because of the “disinformation” being spewed by them. The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan echoed similar thoughts. 

The Post’s Eugene Robinson and journalist Katie Couric have both openly questioned how one can “deprogram” Trump supporters.

On Wednesday, The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.” 

Their claim is “the spread of disinformation and extremism by traditional news media presents a tangible and destabilizing threat” and that “some broadcasters’ and cable networks’ increasing reliance on conspiracy theories and misleading or patently false information raises questions about their devotion to journalistic integrity.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald warned: “Democrats’ justification for silencing their adversaries online and in media — ‘they are spreading fake news and inciting extremism’ — is what despots everywhere say.”

He continued: “Since when is it the role of the U.S. government to arbitrate and enforce precepts of ‘journalistic integrity’? Unless you believe in the right of the government to regulate and control what the press says — a power which the First Amendment explicitly prohibits — how can anyone be comfortable with members of Congress arrogating unto themselves the power to dictate what media outlets are permitted to report and control how they discuss and analyze the news of the day?”

Indeed. But that’s what Democrats want. The authority to debilitate debate. That way they can maintain their power and control, without accountability or threat of being unseated.

So let me ask: Who are the real authoritarians?


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