President Joe Biden is pitching himself as the savior of democracy. “I will always defend, protect, and fight for our democracy,” he said at a campaign event last week in New York City. He’s been saying it for four years. It’s a blatant lie. He’s the king of censorship, silencing his critics like a despot and even trying to defend his censorship regime before the Supreme Court.
At high-dollar fundraising events last week from Manhattan to Silicon Valley, Biden bragged the survival of democracy hinges on his reelection over the MAGA Republicans. He’ll reiterate that theme again in Phoenix on Thursday.
But democracy depends on a free marketplace of ideas. Biden is busy destroying that marketplace. He and his staff have masterminded a vast censorship scheme, coercing media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to take down views that challenge the administration on everything from vaccine safety and gas prices to Biden family mischief.
On Sept. 11, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the Biden White House guilty of threatening and coercing social media executives to do what the federal government is constitutionally barred from doing on its own — censoring the public. The judges ruled that bullying these companies into doing the administration’s dirty work violates the First Amendment just as much as if government muzzles the public directly.
The Fifth Circuit issued an injunction, barring the Biden White House, surgeon general, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and FBI from trying to “coerce or significantly encourage social-media companies to remove … content containing protected free speech.”
Undeterred, Team Biden has gone to the Supreme Court to fight this limit on censorship. It’s easier to win reelection if you can silence your critics.
Justice Samuel Alito paused the Fifth Circuit’s order until today, Sept. 27, when the Court is expected to take further action.
Meanwhile, Biden is weaseling around the First Amendment’s prohibition on government censorship by moving his social media attack dog, Rob Flaherty, from the White House to his campaign staff. Flaherty, who largely masterminded the White House’s censorship operation, will now be operating from a new, nongovernmental perch.
Biden’s lawyers argued in court that the tech platforms made their own decisions. That was a lie, and the judges saw right through it.
The evidence shows Biden threatened the social media platforms with punitive regulations, such as repealing liability immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and enforcing antitrust regulations, if the platforms didn’t do his bidding.
In 2020, candidate Biden told a New York Times editorial board that Section 230 immunity should be revoked because media companies like Facebook failed to censure rival Donald Trump’s political ads criticizing him.
After winning, Biden issued arrogant censorship demands, more like a despot than a believer in democracy.
On Feb. 6, 2021, Flaherty emailed Twitter to immediately remove a post that parodied Hunter Biden’s adult daughter Finnegan. Twitter complied.
Over time, the censorship operation evolved into regularly scheduled meetings between Biden officials and tech employees, follow-up reports from the platforms on their compliance with Biden dictates, and special portals through which the Biden administration could request immediate action.
The New York Times depicts the legal battle against Biden’s censorship as a challenge to “the government’s ability to combat false and misleading narratives about the pandemic, voting rights and other issues that spread on social media.”
Wrong. The Gray Lady presumes government can be trusted to decide what is false.
In reality, this is a case about protecting the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans to post their views and freely access the views of others.
It is also a case about the future of democracy. If Biden’s censorship scheme survives Supreme Court review — an unlikely outcome — democracy will be the worse for it.
Expect Biden to continue parroting the claim he’s defending democracy. It’s far easier for him to campaign against a pretend threat than deal with real issues such as the economy and immigration, where his approval ratings don’t break 30%, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Biden’s censorship and the fight he’s waging to continue muzzling the public — the U.S. Constitution be damned — show he’s no champion of democracy. The judges of the Fifth Circuit didn’t believe it. And you shouldn’t either.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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