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Biden Administration Completely Kills The “It’s A Private Company So It’s Not Censorship” Argument

Biden Administration Completely Kills The “It’s A Private Company So It’s Not Censorship” Argument

Listen to a reading of this article:

In what’s surely the biggest “Imagine the outrage if Trump had done that” moment to date, the Biden administration has admitted that it is giving Facebook a list of accounts to censor for spreading “disinformation” about the Covid-19 response.

“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the press on Thursday. “Within the Surgeon General’s Office, we’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect medical experts with people, who are popular with their audiences with accurate information and boost trusted content. So, we’re helping get trusted content out there.”

 

Psaki told the White House press corps that the administration has a list of accounts who produce most of the anti-vaccine information on Facebook, which civil libertarians are decrying as an obviously authoritarian government overreach.

“The Biden administration is telling Facebook which posts it regards as ‘problematic’ so that Facebook can remove them,” Glenn Greenwald said on Twitter in response to the news. “This is the union of corporate and state power — one of the classic hallmarks of fascism — that the people who spent five years babbling about fascism support.”

“If you don’t find it deeply disturbing that the White House is ‘flagging’ internet content that they deem ‘problematic’ to their Facebook allies for removal, then you are definitionally an authoritarian,” Greenwald said. “No other information is needed about you to know that. There is no circumstance — none — in which it’s acceptable for the White House or any other agency of the government to be providing lists to Facebook of ‘problematic’ content it wants removed, yet that’s exactly what Psaki says they’re doing…

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Antony Blinken Continues to Lecture the World on Values His Administration Aggressively Violates

Antony Blinken Continues to Lecture the World on Values His Administration Aggressively Violates

How can you feign anger over others’ attacks on a free press when you imprison Assange as punishment for his vital revelations about U.S. officials?

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on the importance of independent journalism, May 6, 2021 (Radio Free Europe); Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in his attempt to resist extradition by the Biden administration (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Continuing his world tour doling out righteous lectures to the world, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday proclaimed — in a sermon you have to hear to believe — that few things are more sacred in a democracy than “independent journalism.” Speaking to Radio Free Europe, Blinken paid homage to “World Press Freedom Day”; claimed that “the United States stands strongly with independent journalism”; explained that “the foundation of any democratic system” entails “holding leaders accountable” and “informing citizens”; and warned that “countries that deny freedom of the press are countries that don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves or in their systems.”

The rhetorical cherry on top of that cake came when he posed this question: “What is to be afraid of in informing the people and holding leaders accountable?” The Secretary of State then issued this vow: “Everywhere journalism and freedom of the press is challenged, we will stand with journalists and with that freedom.” Since I know that I would be extremely skeptical if someone told me that those words had just come out Blinken’s mouth, I present you here with the unedited one-minute-fifty-two-second video clip of him saying exactly this:

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Corporate News Outlets Again “Confirm” the Same False Story, While Many Refuse to Correct it

Corporate News Outlets Again “Confirm” the Same False Story, While Many Refuse to Correct it

Journalists with major outlets know they spread a false, retracted story about the FBI and Giuliani but refuse to remove it, because their real job is spreading disinformation.

Rudy Giuliani appeared before the Michigan House Oversight Committee in Lansing, Michigan on December 2, 2020 (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the primary plagues of corporate journalism, which I have documented more times than I can count, just reared its ugly head again to deceive millions of people with fake news. When one large news outlet publishes a false story based on whispers from anonymous security state agents with the CIA or FBI, other news outlets quickly purport that they have “independently confirmed” the false story, in order to bolster its credibility (oh, it must be true since other outlets have also confirmed it).

This is an obvious scam — they have not “independently confirmed” anything but rather merely acted as servants to the same lying security state agents who planted the original false story — but they do it over and over, creating the deceitful perception that a fake story has been “confirmed” by multiple outlets, thus bolstering its credibility in the public mind. It was the favored tactic for spreading debunked Russiagate frauds and is still used. One of the most vivid examples occurred in December, 2017, when CNN falsely reported what it hyped as “a major bombshell”: that Donald Trump, Jr. had advance access to the WikiLeaks archive. Within an hour, NBC News’ Ken Dilanian and CBS News both claimed they had “independently confirmed” this fairy tale…

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CNN’s New “Reporter,” Natasha Bertrand, is a Deranged Conspiracy Theorist and Scandal-Plagued CIA Propagandist

CNN’s New “Reporter,” Natasha Bertrand, is a Deranged Conspiracy Theorist and Scandal-Plagued CIA Propagandist

In the U.S. corporate media, the surest way to advance is to loyally spread lies and deceit from the U.S. security state. Bertrand is just the latest example.

CNN’s new national security reporter Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico and NBC News, with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Sept. 19, 2019

The most important axiom for understanding how the U.S. corporate media functions is that there is never accountability for those who serve as propagandists for the U.S. security state. The opposite is true: the more aggressively and recklessly you spread CIA narratives or pro-war manipulation, the more rewarded you will be in that world.

The classic case is Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote one of the most deceitful and destructive articles of his generation: a lengthy New Yorker article in May, 2002 — right as the propagandistic groundwork for the invasion of Iraq was being laid — that claimed Saddam Hussein had formed an alliance with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In February, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, NPR host Robert Siegel devoted a long segment to this claim. When he asked Goldberg about “a man named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” Goldberg replied: “He is one of several men who might personify a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.”

Needless to say, nothing could generate hatred for someone among the American population — just nine months away from the 9/11 attack — more than associating them with bin Laden. Five months after Goldberg’s New Yorker article, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of military force to impose regime change on Iraq; ten months later, the U.S. invaded Iraq; and by September, 2003, close to 70% of Americans believed the lie that Saddam had personally participated in the 9/11 attack.

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Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One

Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One

The most significant Trump-era alliance is between corporate outlets and security state agencies, whose evidence-free claims they unquestioningly disseminate.

A US soldier in Afghanistan CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

That Russia placed “bounties” on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was one of the most-discussed and consequential news stories of 2020. It was also, as it turns out, one of the most baseless — as the intelligence agencies who spread it through their media spokespeople now admit, largely because the tale has fulfilled and outlived its purpose.

The saga began on July 29, 2020, when The New York Times announced that unnamed “American intelligence officials” have concluded that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.” The paper called it “a significant and provocative escalation” by Russia. Though no evidence was ever presented to support the CIA’s claims — neither in that original story nor in any reporting since — most U.S. media outlets blindly believed it and spent weeks if not longer treating it as proven, highly significant truth. Leading politicians from both parties similarly used this emotional storyline to advance multiple agendas.

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed…

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My New Book on Journalism, Exposing Corruption, and the Resulting Risks, Dangers and Societal Changes

My New Book on Journalism, Exposing Corruption, and the Resulting Risks, Dangers and Societal Changes

On Mother’s Day in 2019, I obtained a massive archive of materials from Brazil’s most powerful officials. The reporting we did changed the country, and our lives.

In 2015, I travelled to Sweden for an event with former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. It was billed as a conversation about modern journalism between the reporter who had broken the biggest story of the prior generation (Watergate) and the one responsible for the biggest story of the current one (NSA/Snowden revelations).

A couple of years earlier, at the height of the Snowden reporting, Bernstein and I had traded some barbed insults through the media. So before traveling to Sweden, he generously reached out to invite me to dinner in order, essentially, to clear the air so that we could have a civil conversation. The night before the event, we met for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We quickly laughed off the acrimony — it had been a couple of years prior, and both of us have had much worse said about us — and proceeded to have a perfectly enjoyable conversation.

Truth be told, I was excited to meet and talk to Bernstein. Though his Trump-era persona became conventionally fixated on melodramatizing Trump’s evils for CNN, at the time Bernstein for me was most associated with the high investigative drama of Watergate. As a kid, it was that journalistic triumph, along with the Pentagon Papers, that captured my obsessive attention and shaped my views of what journalism is: reporters and whistleblowers who risk everything and face various multi-level dangers to confront and expose corruption by the most powerful actors in society…

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Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Self-Victimize to Bar Criticisms of Themselves

Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Self-Victimize to Bar Criticisms of Themselves

Powerful media figures now invoke sexist and racist tropes to cast themselves as so fragile and marginalized that critiques of their work constitute bullying and assault.

An unidentified man walks through the lobby of the Gannett-USA Today headquarters building August 20, 2013 on a 30-acre site in McLean, Virginia. (AFP/PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The daily newspaper USA Today is the second-most circulated print newspaper in the United States — more than The New York Times and more than double The Washington Post. Only The Wall Street Journal has higher circulation numbers.

On Sunday, the paper published and heavily promoted a repellent article complaining that “defendants accused in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 crowdfund their legal fees online, using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a crackdown by tech companies.” It provided a road map for snitching on how these private citizens — who are charged with serious felonies by the U.S. Justice Department but as of yet convicted of nothing — are engaged in “a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another” in order to avoid bans on their ability to raise desperately needed funds to pay their criminal lawyers to mount a vigorous defense.

In other words, the only purpose of the article — headlined: “Insurrection fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, Trump supporters raise money for lawyer bills online” — was to pressure and shame tech companies to do more to block these criminal defendants from being able to raise funds for their legal fees, and to tattle to tech companies by showing them what techniques these indigent defendants are using to raise money online.

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glenn greenwald, journalism, journalists, critique, criticism, media, mainstream media,

Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively

Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively

The repressive objective of the Democratic-controlled Congress is to transfer the power to police and censor political discourse from these tech giants to themselves.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mar. 25, 2021

Over the course of five-plus hours on Thursday, a House Committee along with two subcommittees badgered three tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply. The hearing — convened by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of its Subcommittees, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — was one of the most stunning displays of the growing authoritarian effort in Congress to commandeer the control which these companies wield over political discourse for their own political interests and purposes.

As I noted when I reported last month on the scheduling of this hearing, this was “the third time in less than five months that the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms.” The bulk of Thursday’s lengthy hearing consisted of one Democratic member after the next complaining that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have failed in their duties to censor political voices and ideological content that these elected officials regard as adversarial or harmful, accompanied by threats that legislative punishment (including possible revocation of Section 230 immunity) is imminent in order to force compliance (Section 230 is the provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted by their users).

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Journalists, Illustrating How They Operate, Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter

Journalists, Illustrating How They Operate, Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter

Eager to obtain vindication for the pre-election falsehood they spread about the Hunter Biden story, journalists falsely claim that the CIA blamed Russia for it.

Hunter Biden (L) and then-Vice President Joe Biden speak on stage at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

Journalists with the largest and most influential media outlets disseminated an outright and quite significant lie on Tuesday to hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, on Twitter. While some of them were shamed into acknowledging the falsity of their claim, many refused to, causing it to continue to spread up until this very moment. It is well worth examining how they function because this is how they deceive the public again and again, and it is why public trust in their pronouncements has justifiably plummeted.

The lie they told involved claims of Russian involvement in the procurement of Hunter Biden’s laptop. In the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, The New York Post obtained that laptop and published a series of articles about the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine, China and elsewhere. In response, Twitter banned the posting of any links to that reporting and locked The Post out of its Twitter account for close to two weeks, while Facebook, though a long-time Democratic operative, announced that it would algorithmically suppress the reporting.

The excuse used by those social media companies for censoring this reporting was the same invoked by media outlets to justify their refusal to report the contents of these documents: namely, that the materials were “Russian disinformation.”…

 

Congressional Testimony: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists

Congressional Testimony: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists

A hearing of the House Subcommittee focused on anti-trust and monopoly abuses examines the role of the corporate media in these growing pathologies.

Hearing of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, Mar. 12, 2021

There are not many Congressional committees regularly engaged in substantive and serious work — most are performative — but the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law is an exception. Led by its chairman Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and ranking member Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), it is, with a few exceptions, composed of lawmakers whose knowledge of tech monopolies and anti-trust law is impressive.

In October, the Committee, after a sixteen-month investigation, produced one of those most comprehensive and informative reports by any government body anywhere in the world about the multi-pronged threats to democracy posed by four Silicon Valley monopolies: Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The 450-page report also proposed sweeping solutions, including ways to break up these companies and/or constrain them from controlling our political discourse and political life. That report merits much greater attention and consideration than it has thus far received.

The Subcommittee held a hearing on Friday and I was invited to testify along with Microsoft President Brad Smith; President of the News Guild-Communications Workers of America Jonathan Schleuss, the Outkick’s Clay Travis, CEO of the Graham Media Group Emily Barr, and CEO of the News Media Alliance David Chavern. The ostensible purpose the hearing was a narrow one: to consider a bill that would vest media outlets with an exemption from anti-trust laws to collectively bargain with tech companies such as Facebook and Google so that they can obtain a greater share of the ad revenue

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers: to Bar Critiques of Journalists

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers: to Bar Critiques of Journalists

This new political battle does not break down along left v. right lines. This is an information war waged by corporate media to silence any competition or dissent.

Supporters of Mark Meechan aka Count Dankula gather in central London to protest against his conviction under the Communications Act in March 2018 (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, I wrote about how corporate journalists, realizing that the public’s increasing contempt for what they do is causing people to turn away in droves, are desperately inventing new tactics to maintain their stranglehold over the dissemination of information and generate captive audiences. That is why journalists have bizarrely transformed from their traditional role as leading free expression defenders into the the most vocal censorship advocates, using their platforms to demand that tech monopolies ban and silence others.

That same motive of self-preservation is driving them to equate any criticisms of their work with “harassment,” “abuse” and “violence” — so that it is not just culturally stigmatized but a banning offense, perhaps even literally criminal, to critique their journalism on the ground that any criticism of them places them “in danger.” Under this rubric they want to construct, they can malign anyone they want, ruin people’s reputations, and unite to generate hatred against their chosen targets, but nobody can even criticize them.

Any independent platform or venue that empowers other journalists or just ordinary citizens to do reporting or provide commentary outside of their repressive constraints is viewed by them as threats to be censored and destroyed. Every platform that enables any questioning of their pieties or any irreverent critiques of mainstream journalism — social media sites, YouTube, Patreon, Joe Rogan’s Spotify program — has already been systematically targeted by corporate journalists with censorship demands, often successfully.

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Criticizing Public Figures, Including Influential Journalists, is Not Harassment or Abuse

Criticizing Public Figures, Including Influential Journalists, is Not Harassment or Abuse

As social media empowers uncredentialed people to be heard, society’s most powerful actors seek to cast themselves as victims and delegitimize all critiques.

A view of The New York Times Building Headquarters. (Photo by John Nacion/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The most powerful and influential newspaper in the U.S., arguably the west, is The New York Times. Journalists who write for it, especially those whose work is featured on its front page or in its op-ed section, wield immense power to shape public discourse, influence thought, set the political agenda for the planet’s most powerful nation, expose injustices, or ruin the lives of public figures and private citizens alike. That is an enormous amount of power in the hands of one media institution and its employees. That’s why it calls itself the Paper of Record.

One of the Paper of Record’s star reporters, Taylor Lorenz, has been much discussed of late. That is so for three reasons. The first is that the thirty-six-year-old tech and culture reporter has helped innovate a new kind of reportorial beat that seems to have a couple of purposes. She publishes articles exploring in great detail the online culture of teenagers and very young adults, which, as a father of two young Tik-Tok-using children, I have found occasionally and mildly interesting. She also seeks to catch famous and non-famous people alike using bad words or being in close digital proximity to bad people so that she can alert the rest of the world to these important findings. It is natural that journalists who pioneer a new form of reporting this way are going to be discussed.

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House Democrats, Targeting Right-Wing Cable Outlets, Are Assaulting Core Press Freedoms

House Democrats, Targeting Right-Wing Cable Outlets, Are Assaulting Core Press Freedoms

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

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (C) with other House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol January 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Not even two months into their reign as the majority party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress, key Democrats have made clear that one of their top priorities is censorship of divergent voices. On Saturday, I detailed how their escalating official campaign to coerce and threaten social media companies into more aggressively censoring views that they dislike — including by summoning social media CEOs to appear before them for the third time in less than five months — is implicating, if not already violating, core First Amendment rights of free speech.

Now they are going further — much further. The same Democratic House Committee that is demanding greater online censorship from social media companies now has its sights set on the removal of conservative cable outlets, including Fox News, from the airwaves.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday announced a February 24 hearing, convened by one of its sub-committees, entitled “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.” Claiming that “the spread of disinformation and extremism by traditional news media presents a tangible and destabilizing threat,” the Committee argues: “Some broadcasters’ and cable networks’ increasing reliance on conspiracy theories and misleading or patently false information raises questions about their devotion to journalistic integrity.”

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Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment

Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment

In their zeal for control over online speech, House Democrats are getting closer and closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.

CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey (R) and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (L) are sworn in to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 5, 2018. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

For the third time in less than five months, the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms. On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.”

The Committee’s Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of the Subcommittees holding the hearings, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said in a joint statement that the impetus was “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud.” They argued that “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” adding: “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation.”

House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms…

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The Journalistic Tattletale and Censorship Industry Suffers Several Well-Deserved Blows

The Journalistic Tattletale and Censorship Industry Suffers Several Well-Deserved Blows

The NYT’s Taylor Lorenz falsely accuses a tech investor of using a slur after spending months trying to infiltrate and monitor a new app that allows free conversation.

New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz and Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen

A new and rapidly growing journalistic “beat” has arisen over the last several years that can best be described as an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance. It is half adolescent and half malevolent. Its primary objectives are control, censorship, and the destruction of reputations for fun and power. Though its epicenter is the largest corporate media outlets, it is the very antithesis of journalism.

I’ve written before about one particularly toxic strain of this authoritarian “reporting.” Teams of journalists at three of the most influential corporate media outlets — CNN’s “media reporters” (Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy), NBC’s “disinformation space unit” (Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny), and the tech reporters of The New York Times (Mike Isaac, Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel) — devote the bulk of their “journalism” to searching for online spaces where they believe speech and conduct rules are being violated, flagging them, and then pleading that punitive action be taken (banning, censorship, content regulation, after-school detention). These hall-monitor reporters are a major factor explaining why tech monopolies, which (for reasons of self-interest and ideology) never wanted the responsibility to censor, now do so with abandon and seemingly arbitrary blunt force: they are shamed by the world’s loudest media companies when they do not.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

glenn greenwald, media, journalism, new york times, censorship, media ban, big tech

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