Media and social-media companies—including Facebook, Twitter and the Washington Post —ensnared themselves in a farcical attempt to justify censorship after the emergence of damning data from Hunter Biden‘s abandoned laptop threatened to derail his father’s presidential campaign.
The Biden-backing companies issued an array of contrived excuses, including Twitter’s claim that the New York Post‘s bombshell violated a never-before-enforced 2018 policy that prohibited the sharing of ‘hacked’ information.
We know we have more work to do to provide clarity in our product when we enforce our rules in this manner. We should provide additional clarity and context when preventing the Tweeting or DMing of URLs that violate our policies.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
The Washington Post, meanwhile, claimed that Joe Biden had never pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor investigating corruption at the Burisma energy company, despite a 2017 video in which the former vice president admits to doing precisely that.
Far from being esoteric and unverified, the video was widely referenced and circulated during President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings for alleged abuse of power after he asked Ukraine’s new president to reopen the investigation.
Nonetheless, Facebook cited the Washington Post‘s false claim about the Obama-era Ukraine scandal as justification for “reducing distribution” of the breaking story on its platform.
But with several other explosive storylines emerging from the laptop data on Thursday, it was clear that the dam was poised to burst on the media’s desperate censorship efforts.
Due to the attempts to tamp down the spread of the stories as unproven, the emergence of hard evidence to the contrary meant the outlets risked shattering the facade of neutrality—and also damaging their credibility by permitting the Biden campaign and its leftist allies to spread disinformation.
After the Washington Post‘s so-called lead fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, tweeted out the text of the Watergate-breaking paper’s new policy on hacked or leaked material, many were skeptical.
Some pointed to the paper’s silence over recent leaks of President Donald Trump’s tax information and those used to propel the FBI’s 2016 Russia hoax among countless examples of its duplicity in making exceptions to the rule that benefited left-wing narratives.
The paper that was the uncritical receptacle for the sketchily edited leaks of the Russia collusion narrative had a policy against what it did? Interesting, but weird how it’s unevenly applied. Also, the 2018 midterms and your smear operation against Kavanaugh would like a word.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 14, 2020
Others who were critical of the media response noted the eerily Orwellian quality of it all.
“Every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”- ‘1984,’ George Orwell
— Kenny (@Kenny_Sowellfan) October 14, 2020
This is Orwellian. Twitter hasn’t partnered with any fact checkers, and this whole censorship is happening before anything is factchecked. Their official (laughable) explanation is that it’s “hacked” material. https://t.co/sGBCUiIYGT
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) October 15, 2020
Still, Biden-backers continued to circle the wagons.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did so sheepishly, admitting that the platform’s double-standard and lack of transparency while attempting damage control were, in fact, exacerbating the problem.
Even so, Twitter audaciously doubled-down on its efforts, going so far as to blacklist the official website of the House Judiciary Committee and label it as “spammy and unsafe” after ranking minority member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, reposted the original article on the government-run site.
Twitter has blocked users from tweeting the link to the @nypost‘s story on Hunter Biden.
So we put it on our website for you to read and share.
Click, share, and RT! https://t.co/tZwybnoW0e
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) October 14, 2020
A Twitter representative later claimed it was done “in error,” Breitbart reported.
However, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was also blocked, as were links to last month’s official investigative report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The backlash from Republican leaders against the platforms was severe, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, saying the Twitter CEO would be receiving a subpoena from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We have seen Big Tech—we’ve seen Twitter and Facebook—actively interfering in this election in a way that has no precedent in the history of our country,” Cruz said in a statement alongside committee chair Lindsey Graham, R-SC.
Never before have we seen the censorship of a major outlet’s reporting, with serious allegations of corruption by a presidential candidate, days before an election. #BigTech crossed a line & must be held accountable. That’s why @senjudiciary is going to subpoena @jack. pic.twitter.com/FYHTacmbWr
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) October 15, 2020
The story seemed likely to easily eclipse the committee’s final day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on,” Cruz said.
“… Let me be clear: I don’t know if these New York Post stories are true or not,” he continued. “Those are questions Vice President Biden should answer. But Twitter and Facebook and Big Tech billionaires don’t get to censor political speech and actively interfere in the election.”
Tech companies have long used the statute to claim free-speech protections by insisting that they are simply conduits rather than curators of user-generated content.
“The big-tech oligarchs have declared war on the Republican Party, and conservatives and I promise them, those in Silicon Valley: Winter is coming,” Cotton warned in a Thursday-morning interview with Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo.
Another Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, also railed against the suppression, describing it as an “in kind donation” to the Biden campaign and warning that the high stakes of inaction would, at the very least, cost Republicans the election.
Tucker Carlson & @esaagar Discuss The Future Of Big Tech Censorship
Tucker: “Soon we’re going to do a show where we just read the names of all the Republicans…who refused to lift a finger to save you from what you correctly described as this grave moment in American history.” pic.twitter.com/wOzDeFEDWH
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) October 15, 2020