Episode 218: “The Ugly Truth About the White House, the FBI and the Social Media Companies” with Jenin Younes and Todd Zywicki
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Newly released documents show that the White House has played a major role in censoring Americans on social media.
Email exchanges between Rob Flaherty, the White House’s director of digital media, and social-media executives prove the companies put Covid censorship policies in place in response to relentless, coercive pressure from the White House—not voluntarily as the government has claimed.
The emails emerged last month in the discovery phase of Missouri v. Biden, a free-speech case brought by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana and four private plaintiffs, including leading epidemiologists Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya and Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff.
Government’s role in social media censorship has been just as bad as we feared and worse.
So what are the details, and what’s at stake? To explain, Jenin Younes, litigation counsel at the New Civil Liberties Alliance which is representing the private plaintiffs in Missouri v. Biden, joins me on this episode with
Todd Zywicki, Professor at George Mason’s Scalia Law School and who was last on the show exploring with me whether “Chinese-Style Social Credit Will Be Coming to America”
The ugly truth.
We also now know that not only the White House, but also the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies have all played a major role in censoring Americans on social media, directing tech companies to remove certain types of material and even to censor specific posts and accounts.
Apparently they even censored this show.
“If you recall Bill,” reminds Todd, “the last time Jenin and I were here with you, was about when I sued my employer over trying to force me to get vaccinated even though I had natural immunity. And why that’s so relevant to the conversation we’re having today was that quite quickly that episode was removed from YouTube. It was taken down as violating the terms of service of YouTube. And to this day, we have no idea why.”
People were censored for saying things that we now know to be true.
“Martin Kulldorff is among the most cited scientists in the world when it comes to infectious disease issues and vaccine safety,” says Jenin. “And he was censored on Twitter for saying that people with natural immunity and children don’t need the vaccine.”
The censorship regime has been widespread and relentless. Our argument here is that the companies, as private actors, have a right to do that, but that the government does not have a right to coerce private actors to do what the government wants them to do.
The White House emails demonstrate that the federal government unlawfully coerced social media companies in an effort to ensure that Americans would be exposed only to state-approved information about Covid-19.
The government’s unlawful, deceptive and dangerous conduct is the biggest issue of our day. We cover a lot in this episode: the First Amendment issues, public choice (government officials don’t have a monopoly on truth), shadow banning, Section 230 (protects the social media companies but is now abused by them) and how Twitter has changed with Elon Musk in charge.
This is a fascinating and entertaining overview of the sometimes hard-to-understand issues. We taped this in-studio to amplify its importance, but if you don’t have time to watch, be sure to listen in.