The Rise of The Corporate Censors: How America Is Drifting Toward The Chinese Model Of Media

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the censorship of the Hunter Biden controversy by Facebook and Twitter. The response of the Biden campaign and figures like Rep. Adam Schiff has been to dismiss the story as the likely product of Russian intelligence. Notably however they do not address the underlying emails. As many of us have written, there is ample reason to suspect foreign intelligence and the FBI is reportedly investigating that possibility. However, that does not mean that the emails are not authentic. Hillary Clinton was hacked by Russia but the emails were still real. It is possible to investigate both those responsible for the laptop’s disclosure and what has been disclosed on the laptop. The censorship by these companies however has magnified concerns in the controversy, particularly with the disclosure of close connections between some company officials and the Biden campaign.

Chinese citizens watched President Xi Jinping deliver an important speech this week not far from Hong Kong. Well, not the whole speech: Xi apparently is ill, and every time he went into coughing spasms, China’s state media cut away so that he would be shown only in perfect health.

Xi’s coughs came to mind as Twitter and Facebook prevented Americans from being able to read the New York Post’s explosive allegations of influence-peddling by Hunter Biden through their sites. The articles cited material reportedly recovered from a laptop; it purportedly showed requests for Hunter Biden to use his influence on his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, as well as embarrassing photos of Hunter Biden.

Many of us have questioned the sketchy details of how the laptop reportedly was left by Hunter Biden with a nearly blind computer repairman and then revealed just weeks before the presidential election. There are ample reasons to question whether this material was the product of a foreign intelligence operation, which the FBI apparently is investigating.

Yet the funny thing about kompromat — a Russian term for compromising information — is that often it is true. Indeed, it is most damaging and most useful when it is true; otherwise, you deny the allegations and expose the lie. Hunter Biden has yet to deny these were his laptop, his emails, his images. If thousands of emails and images were fabricated, then serious crimes were committed. But if the emails and images are genuine, then the Bidens appear to have lied for years as a raw influence-peddling scheme worth millions stretched from China to Ukraine to Russia. Moreover, these countries likely have had the compromising information all along while the Bidens — and the media — were denying reports of illicit activities.

Either way, this was major news.

The response of Twitter and Facebook, however, was to shut it all down. Major media companies also imposed a virtual blackout on the allegations. It didn’t matter that thousands of emails were available for review or that the Bidens did not directly address the material. It was all declared to be fake news.

The tech companies’ actions are an outrageous example of open censorship and bias. It shows how private companies effectively can become state media working for one party. This, of course, was more serious than deleting coughs, but it was based on the same excuse of “protecting” the public from distractions or distortions. Indeed, it was the realization of political and academic calls that have been building for years.

Democratic leaders from Hillary Clinton to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) have long demanded such private censorship from social media companies, despite objections from some of us in the free speech community; Joe Biden himself demanded that those companies remove President Trump’s statements about voting fraud as fake news. Academics have lined up to support calls for censorship, too. Recently, Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and University of Arizona law professor Andrew Keane Woods called for Chinese-style internet censorship and declared that “in the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong.”

It turns out traditional notions of journalism and a free press are outdated, too, and China again appears to be the model for the future. Recently, Stanford communications Professor Emeritus Ted Glasser publicly denounced the notion of objectivity in journalism as too constraining for reporters seeking “social justice.” In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Glasser insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He said reporters must embrace the role of “activists” and that it is “hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.” Problem solved.

Such views make Twitter and Facebook’s censorship of the Post not simply justified but commendable — regardless of whether the alleged Biden material proves to be authentic. As Twitter buckled under criticism of its actions, it shifted its rationale from combating fake news to barring hacked or stolen information. (Putting aside that the information allegedly came from a laptop, not hacking, this rule would block the public from reviewing any story based on, say, whistleblowers revealing nonpublic information, from the Pentagon Papers to Watergate. Moreover, Twitter seemingly had no qualms about publishing thousands of stories based on the same type of information about the Trump family or campaign.) Twitter now says it will allow hacked information if not posted by the hacker.

Social media companies have long enjoyed protection, under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, from liability over what users post or share. The reason is that those companies are viewed as neutral platforms, a means for people to sign up to read the views or thoughts of other people. Under Section 230, a company such as Twitter was treated as merely providing the means, not the content. Yet for Twitter to tag tweets with warnings or block tweets altogether is akin to the telephone company cutting into a line to say it doesn’t like what two callers are discussing.

Facebook and Twitter have now made the case against themselves for stripping social media companies of immunity. That would be a huge loss not only to these companies but to free speech as well. We would lose the greatest single advance in free speech via an unregulated internet.

At the same time, we are seeing a rejection of journalistic objectivity in favor of activism. The New York Times apologized for publishing a column by a conservative U.S. senator on using national guardsmen to quell rioting — yet it later published a column by a Chinese official called “Beijing’s enforcer” who is crushing protests in Hong Kong. The media spent years publishing every wacky theory of alleged Trump-Russia collusion; thousands of articles detailed allegations from the Steele dossier, which has been not only discredited but also shown to be based on material from a known Russian agent.

When the Steele dossier was revealed, many of us agreed on the need to investigate because, even if it was the work of foreign intelligence, the underlying kompromat could be true. Today, in contrast, the media is not only dismissing the need to investigate the Biden emails, but ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos didn’t ask Biden about the allegations during a two-hour town hall event on Thursday.

This leaves us with a Zen-like question: If social media giants prevent the sharing of a scandal and the media refuses to cover it, did a scandal ever occur? After all, an allegation is a scandal only if it is damaging. No coverage, no damage, no scandal. Just deleted coughs lost in the ether of a controlled media and internet.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

296 thoughts on “The Rise of The Corporate Censors: How America Is Drifting Toward The Chinese Model Of Media”

  1. Who ever controls the information available to voters, controls their vote.

    Nearly ever search engine uses the Google algorithm. Social media does have choices – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, but they are all Democrat organizations.

    The Democrat hegemony controls most of the information available to voters, nearly at the level of Soviet propaganda. It’s not organized by the DNC. It’s more that activists with strong feelings that their jobs are the tools of activism, are in positions of nearly complete and utter control on what information is accessible to the public.

    It’s risen to the level of election interference long ago. The phenomena also may be considered measurable campaign contributions.

    Just the fact that there are members of the media still promoting the provable lie that Trump called racists “very fine people” is an example of the shift from news to propaganda.

    How are we to fight it? We individuals can’t create a new search engine. We can’t create a new Youtube. There is no uncensored alternative to the public square.

    Even Duck Duck Go, the alternative to Google, still sources information from Bing and Yahoo. DDG does not store user information, so there is that advantage. You will get some different results, but the blatant bias of the other platforms out there affect what’s available to find.

    We are living in the short time before the rise of yet another Leftist dictatorship. Later generations are going to wonder why we sat back and did nothing. Why our great country was destroyed by its own people, who threw away their freedoms and prosperity with both hands.

    No civilization has ever lasted forever. One day, our descendants will be foraging for food, grubbing around for survival, among the ruins of a once great nation, as among the fallen pillars of Roman civilization.

    1. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube aren’t “Democrat organizations”.

      Facebook isn’t even neutral, it repeatedly acted in ways to support Trump.

  2. Jonathan: The Trump campaign is so desperate they are putting out all sorts of bizarre and false stories about Joe Biden. Eric Trump, who can’t be accused of being a “stable genius” like his father, tweeted an aerial photo of an estate in Delaware saying: “This is Joe Biden’s house…Seems legit”. There’s only one problem. Biden hasn’t owned the house in 24 years!

    Trump hoped his AG would come up with an “October surprise” that would sink Biden’s candidacy. Neither of William Barr’s hand-picked prosecutors could come up with anything on the Bidens. Neither could the Senate committee investigating Hunter Biden. Now Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, has thrown his client a “hail Mary” pass but that has also fallen flat. The so-called “smoking gun” article in the NY Post was so shoddy the author refused to put his name on it. Fifty former senior intel officials have signed a letter saying the alleged Biden emails have “all the earmarks” of a Russian disinformation operation. The Post article simply does not pass the smell test. But Trump, growing even more desperate, is still pushing the debunked article and calling on Barr to “appoint somebody” to investigate the Biden allegations. The real “October surprise” is that Trump doesn’t have one!

    So in the winddown before the election Trump is grasping at straws. He has no plan or strategy. His chances are becoming so dire that members of the Trump campaign are already circulating their resumes–as are staff in the White House and other members of the administration. I would imagine your good friend William Barr is also looking for other employment. If Biden wins Barr knows his days are numbered. But look on the bright side. You would have lots of time to have those long lunches with Barr and try to figure out went wrong. Maybe you could even find a position for your good friend teaching at George Washington University. It is, after all, Barr’s alma mater.

    1. Good link, Mr. Kurtz.

      On one hand, the Intelligence Community and FBI must not tip the scales before the election. DNI Ratcliffe, for his part, has staked his credibility on the judiciousness of his intervention. We are waiting on FBI Director Wray to respond to Senator Johnson.

      On the other hand, the FBI must not suggest it is waiting on a Biden victory before dropping an overdue investigation.

      Keeping these competing demands in mind, what is the likelihood the GOP succeeds in getting a Special Prosecutor appointed before the election, so that Americans on both sides of the aisle can be certain of a post-election investigation?

      The Guardian’s spin:

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/20/trump-barr-special-prosecutor-joe-biden-hunter-biden

      “Just two weeks from election day on 3 November, it seems unlikely the attorney general will in this case do Trump’s bidding and appoint a special prosecutor to go after the Bidens. But even allowing for a level of “Trump fatigue” in a nation grown used to the president’s violation of political norms, the demand for political retribution via Fox & Friends was startling.”

      1. Barr has stalled the Clinton Foundation corruption case according to FBI gossip, and from his own mouth, excluded Obama and Biden from the Durham investigation

        Barr is not the “tool’ that the Democrat cheerleaders here say he is. He is pretty moderate in my view and perhaps has restricted these two investigations overmuch already

        see the clock can run out, Statutes of limitations run, then it’s too late. Wait for the election means nobody besides Clinesmith will face the music for the falsified FISA warrant materials.

        1. Mr. Kurtz:

          Frame of Reference:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_prosecutor#Initiating_a_special_counsel_investigation

          Left-wing spin on Barr’s predicament from The Hill:

          https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/521942-trump-remarks-put-pressure-on-barr

          ““This puts DOJ and the attorney general in an almost impossible situation. Bill Barr has really got two options here,” Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, said of Trump’s comments Tuesday. “He can accede to the president’s demands, which would make him a disgraceful political hack, or he can stand up for the Justice Department or resign.”

          The conservative side of the argument, of course, is that Barr should appoint a Special Counsel insofar as the evidence warrants it. Failing to do so suggests fear of reprisal from Biden and the Democrats right when loyalty to the DOJ and the American people – not to Trump – matters most.

          1. well FBI might want to first explain why they haven’t picked up Hunter Biden on a run of the mill class D sex offense for illegal images first

            https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1318698971729137664?s=20

            FBI has had this for months now. afraid to arrest this chump Hunter on a beef that any loser would have dropped on him in a quick minute?

            Well we gonna find out if Delaware state police are as slack as the FBI i guess

            one the one hand, a kiddi prn charge against Hunter would steal the thunder from a FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT CHARGE

            on the other hand, American voters won’t like this at all, and may hold it more against Joe than corrupt practices self-inurement

            of course when one considers the disgusting videos we have seen of old creepy joe sniffing hair and hugging underage girls for photo ops–

            DOES THE APPLE FALL FAR FROM THE TREE?

            guess we gonna find out. this one’s a game changer, if the earlier one wasnt already

                1. see the SDNY had time to charge Bannon with a trifling alleged wire fraud case over a million bucks– but the “in crowd” hunter biden and pops who got money kicked upstairs from the foreign corrupt practices, is off limits

                  well we gonna see about that

      2. Jonathan, You don’t appoint a special prosecutor to investigate people who are not in the government. WTF?

        Similarly, the FBI doesn’t announce investigations involving political candidates just before an election, unless you’re Hillary Clinton that is.

          1. Jonathan. requests from House GOP members and Sen Ron Johnson (he was part of the effort to get id of Shokin in the Ukraine) do not a special prosecutor make. They make a grand standing attempt to get headlines for guys like you.

  3. The principle behind Godwin’s Law applies in spades to the silly title and thesis of this entry. This episode isn’t remotely similar to the Chinese model, obviously, nor does it show such a tendency.

    “But if the emails and images are genuine, then the Bidens appear to have lied for years as a raw influence-peddling scheme worth millions stretched from China to Ukraine to Russia.”

    HB appears to have lied, or at least withheld a lot from his father and others. There’s nothing I’ve seen showing JB has. But those following the Russian line of disinfo don’t make that distinction. Shameful to see that line followed here repeatedly.

    “It was all declared to be fake news.”

    No, it wasn’t. It was declared unverified, poorly sourced and likely to be part of a disinfo campaign, something requiring further vetting before spreading it irresponsibly. That’s standard media policy for sound reasons.

    “The tech companies’ actions are an outrageous example of open censorship and bias. It shows how private companies effectively can become state media working for one party.”

    A silly and irresponsible remark. No bias has been shown, for one thing, merely assumed by those who aren’t willing to check their own bias.

    But the second part seems to have been written by a gland. Obviously “state media working for one party” makes no sense in this context, and what it incoherently suggests would be a wild exaggeration by any reasonable standard.

    I give up. Can’t make through the whole piece.

    Glad Turley’s concerned about ties between media and political campaigns, by the way. I look forward to his piece on the NY Post, Fox, etc. on that topic. Censorship is hardly the only or largest likely danger from such ties, as this piece appears to exemplify.

    Turley isn’t the person I imagined him to be. Maybe he’s having a bad week. There are serious issues here, but the less than half-baked, hyperalarmist, partisan elements of this analysis aren’t at all helpful.

    1. “The principle behind Godwin’s Law applies in spades to the silly title and thsis of this entry. This episode isn’t remotely similar to the Chinese model, obviously, nor does it show such a tendency.”

      Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Now Sanpete will deal with her word games and unwrap the cigar into its smallest components and finding a singular piece of sand will declare the cigar to be a beach.

      1. More vacuous hand waving from you. If you have some rational response to what I said, please share it. Otherwise, why are you talking?

        1. Sanpete, that’s Allen. He isn’t looking for a sincere debate. His entire thrust is insulting liberals. That’s the only reason he’s here.

          1. Sanpete, this anonymous sounds like PaintChips. One way to know you are in trouble is when you garner support from that character.

            1. Yeah, Sanpete. Like Allan’s own comments wouldn’t be evidence enough of his mean-spirited nature. He would have you believe this perception is only that of mysterious commenters.

        2. As usual Sanpete’s entire argument is based on word games. There is a lot of fact that can be brought into the discussion as was done by Turley but Sanpete doesn’t deal in fact. She only deals in spin. Is she a ‘dizzy blond’? Sounds like she meets the general criteria.

          1. And more empty hand waving.

            Again we see that hyperpartisans lack a sense of irony, due to lack of self-awareness. Good faith suffers in those conditions.

            1. Since you are doing nothing more than moving words around I’ll repeat what I said previously to move you towards real discussion.

              “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Now Sanpete will deal with her word games and unwrap the cigar into its smallest components and finding a singular piece of sand will declare the cigar to be a beach.”

              1. Ha, those unable to give a rational response often blame the person whose reasons they can’t overcome.

                Reminds me of a line intended to show poetry is no better than advertising: “Poetry and advertising use the same words–just in a different order.” For some, reasons are just words being moved around.

                1. Meanwhile at Facebook…… “There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”

                  The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.”

                  SEE ARTICLE ON NY POST

                  https://nypost.com/2020/10/20/meet-your-chinese-facebook-censors/

                  1. I don’t click on links for hate-based, intentionally biased media outlets, whether on the left, right, or other.

                    If the point is supposed to be that there’s some overlap between the tech needed to filter hate speech and that used to filter other things, well duh.

                2. ” Ha, those unable to give a rational response often blame the person whose reasons they can’t overcome.”

                  That isn’t the case with you. In the first place you don’t provide facts or logic.

                  1. Again, for some, reasons are just words being moved around. They can’t detect fact or logic, no matter how obvious they who reason well.

                    There’s interesting research showing that among those most confident in their ability to carry out certain kinds of thought are those utterly incapable. The theory is that they can’t tell when they’re wrong, so they imagine they’re always right.

                    Hyperpartisanship has a similar effect on the thought process, simultaneously hobbling it while also convincing the hyperpartisan they’re always right. They can’t see any evidence to the contrary, however plain.

                    1. “Again, for some, reasons are just words being moved around. They can’t detect fact or logic, no matter how obvious they who reason well.”

                      Lots of talk, but no logic or fact. Accusations of all types along with stories, but you have an inability to understand that likely you are talking about yourself. That is the person you know best.

                    2. Ha, you seem to imagine I’ve said something personal or intimate. Not at all, these things are easy for others to see, their logic is universal. You cannot be reached by reason for now, however–mere words being moved to you–so I leave you to remain in your hyperpartisan darkness.

                    3. Sanpete, you are enamored with your own word and far to enamored with yourself.

                      For a bit of substance and to get away from your narcissism:

                      “McConnell says Senate will vote to confirm Barrett on Monday, Oct. 26

                      Republican leader call upcoming vote “another signature accomplishment.” .

        3. Did you lie when you said there’s no allegation that JB lied? Of course he lied. He said he did not know about pedophile Hunter’s business while he has been skimming 10 to 50% off the top.

          99% of the Russia accusations against Trump were blatant confirmed known lies. Yet all social media participated in spreading them still to this day. If you deny social media treated these most recent accusations against Hunter and Joe differently that you are either a liar, dumber than dirt, or both.

          1. Who’s this addressed to? I don’t recall anyone saying there’s no allegation that JB lied. That would be a very odd claim.

            You take for granted sheer propaganda of a very hateful sort, by the way. Odd how little that concerns people who do it.

    2. Kamala Harris is going to win.

      Joe Buck and Troy Aikman assured America of her victory.

      Why is this well-traveled communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO) propagandist troll so frantic?

    3. Sanpete: “This episode isn’t remotely similar to the Chinese model, obviously, nor does it show such a tendency.”

      Actually, it is identical. In China, they have what are called “policy banks” (and more broadly, “policy companies”). Those are companies that enact policies favored by the politicians, e.g., loans to a project favored by politician X; the dissemination of ideas favored by politician Y (or the squelching of ideas he doesn’t like).

      With respect to the Hunter Biden laptop and emails, Facebook, Twitter, and sundry media companies are behaving exactly like “policy companies.” Joe Biden is their favored politician, so they are suppressing the story.

      1. Amazing what people will believe under the influence of hyperpartisanship.

        A couple things I shouldn’t have to point out:

        Facebook and Twitter are filled with material inimical to Biden, continually. That hasn’t stopped. Not remotely like what happens in China. Again, see Godwin’s Law for an appropriate parallel to what’s happening here.

        Again, it hasn’t been established that the suppression of the material was politically motivated. That’s merely assumed by those with their own overpowering political motivations.

        Facebook and Twitter are latecomers to the realization that they bear some responsibility if they’re manipulated to undermine the political process. They’ve handled this in a ham-fisted way that I’m sure they’ll try to refine with time. Vastly overheated incitement such as Turley provides above is the opposite of helpful to that process.

        1. “Facebook and Twitter are filled with material inimical to Biden, continually. That hasn’t stopped. Not remotely like what happens in China. ”

          Yes, China is more restrictive than the US but they permit some unflattering pictures just like Twitter and FB. That provides the idea of authenticity. Blocking a major story about corruption by the CCP is exactly what the Chinese would do so the similarity between the respective media representing CCP /Biden is becoming more and more the same.

          Those of us on the other side are looking for the protection of free speech, not politically correct speech. The left is all for shutting down any speech they believe not to be PC. That is who you are.

          1. “China is more restrictive than the US but they permit some unflattering pictures just like Twitter and FB.”

            Sure, just like. Again, amazing what people will believe under the influence of hyperpartisanship. Evidently some people don’t understand the principle of Godwin’s Law at all. Or maybe China is portrayed differently in Fox World.

            “The left is all for shutting down any speech they believe not to be PC. That is who you are.”

            Really? Show me where I’ve said or implied that. Or admit, at least to yourself, that you’re again having trouble with intellectual honesty. You’re not even trying, by all appearances.

            1. Sanpete, this “we are almost China” BS is the equivalent of calling people one disagrees with Nazis and fascists. These are people lacking any historic perspective, and in this case we have a law professor engaging in the drama queen nonsense.

              1. Yes, that’s the point of the reference to Godwin’s Law. It’s much the same logically as invoking “Nazi” or “fascist,” though rhetorically it’s not quite as extreme.

                There are some here who do the same with “communist,” etc, under the influence of hate-based media that encourage it.

                Definitely shows a lack of perspective, as you say. Hyperpartisanship destroys perspective.

            2. “Sure, just like. Again, amazing what people will believe under the influence of hyperpartisanship.”

              You seem to know very little about China.

              “The left is all for shutting down any speech they believe not to be PC. That is who you are.”

              Listen to your rhetoric. It at the very least exposes you for what you are. You are a leftist and support the left. The left is attempting to prevent anything that is not PC.

              1. “You seem to know very little about China.”

                The irony just howls, but you can’t see it.

                Objectively, you have utterly failed to back up your claim about me with anything that I’ve said. I hope, though by now only very dimly, that you’ll have the honesty to admit that to yourself and to start seeing yourself for what you are. It would greatly improve your ability to see and think, and to understand yourself and others.

                1. >>” You seem to know very little about China.”

                  >”The irony just howls, but you can’t see it.”

                  Like Biden you don’t deny the claim so like Biden the claim is probably true.

                    1. When you move your words around saying nothing do you do it while looking in a mirror and remarking how wonderful you are?

  4. “The Rise of The Corporate Censors: How America Is Drifting Toward The Chinese Model Of Media”

    The title makes sense especially since Joe Biden and Democrats along with tech billionaires have been selling out to the Chinese for years.

  5. https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1318541501434122240

    ‘Glenn Greenwald
    @ggreenwald

    The most active agents of disinformation and propaganda in US politics are current and former members of the intel community.

    They were trained to lie and deceive but were supposed to direct it at foreign populations. Their main target is now domestic, & key ally the US media.

    Quote Tweet

    POLITICO
    @politico

    · 14h

    More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”’

    https://politico.com/news/2020/10/19/hunter-biden-story-russian-disinfo-430276

    1. On Tucker last night Glenn Greenwald said Adam Schiff is the most “pathological liar” Glenn has ever come across.

  6. I really question whether Section 230 is sufficient to prevent a political fracture deep enough to lead to civil war.

    From what we know about political tribalism (Amy Chua’s book is highly recommended), truth-gathering processes are the essential glue that transcends tribal identity and loyalty in pluralistic society. If we lose both the truth-gathering spirit and capacity, then the infosphere will fragment into warring factions armed with their own divergent factbases — with dueling realities. Allowing that breakdown of honest reporting would be at our great peril.

    A pluralistic, open architecture of free speech MUST attach some parallel architecture of responsibility….responsibility for truthfulness.
    At the outset of our Republic, there was an honorific culture in which character assassination was deterred (in most cases) by the dangers and unpredictability of dueling.

    In modern times since the Sullivan v. New York Times decision, character assassination and false-flag infowarfare have been allowed by the Supreme Court. This decision needs revisiting, because it undermined the architecture of responsibility. So did the advent of anonymous internet publishing. The crucial question: What legal framework can best promote civic responsibility, truthfulness and anti-defamation in the internet age?

    I believe torts is the best approach, and it should be restored to pre-Sullivan strength and effectiveness. Which is to say that small slights will pass outside the legal system — only the most damaging and aggravated attempts to deceive the public will end up challenged with lawsuits (e.g. Nick Sandman case). The completion of a certain number of these suits, and levying of monetary consequences will act as a deterrent to the professionally-designed misinformation campaign. But for this architecture to work, the law must also impose non-repudiation. Anonymity is the severing of accountability and responsibility.

    Any attempt at government regulation of the tech giants will fail, as it’s obvious that enforcement of regs are discretionary.

    The architecture of responsibility brings into focus whether the 1st Amendment goes as far as to protect anonymous speech? (I can’t find that anywhere), or intentionally-defamatory or intentionally-deceptive speech?….(you won’t find that either). There should be no doubt that the extreme intersection of these two – intentionally-deceptive infowarfare with no possibility of bad-faith traceability — enjoys no protection under the 1st Amendment. Why? Because the delicate balance between freedom and responsibility is so skewed to one side that it invites civil breakdown and anarchy — tribalists and misanthropes rule! That’s every bit as bad as the opposite imbalance, where authoritarian rule can stifle even the most responsible voices.

    I rarely hear JT mention the responsibilities that accompany freedom of speech. Something’s important is missing.

    1. Amy Chua’s book “World on Fire” reads like prophecy for America today. it came out decades ago

      the problems of multiethnic societies and “democracy”

      white people should take note because Chinese minorities in various nations have for centuries been targets of angry mobs who are jealous of social success

  7. ‘Chris Hedges “The Politics of Cultural Despair”‘

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxSN4ip_F6M

    “Author, activist and dissident Chris Hedges spoke at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy NY on October 16, 2020. In this talk he examines the cultural and social forces that have given rise to extremism in the United States. He explores the myriad of factors that led to the proliferation of neo-fascist militias, extremist organizations, demagogic leaders, vast social divides defined by hate, a hyper nationalism and virulent racism as well as a mass media that has descended into burlesque and fans the flames of social disintegration. Meghan Marohn moderates a Q&A following the talk.”

    See transcript, downthread.

  8. Turley Shills For Trump

    Turley is being more disengenous than usual. On one hand he expresses skepticism at the odd series of events that channeled said laptop to Rudolph Guiliani. Yet Turley seems as peeved as any Republican that this story hasn’t gotten the ‘respect it deserves’ from mainstream media.

  9. ‘Tell me this doesn’t enrage you:

    Ayatollah Khamenei — the anti-American and anti-Semitic leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran — gets to tweet freely.

    The NYPost — America’s oldest continuously published newspaper, founded by Alexander Hamilton — is shut out of the platform.’ @sohrabahmari

    1. Excellent point, Anonymous.

      The Biden and Trump teams both need to be fairly far along in their negotiations Iran. Confidence in a uniquely American method of dirty laundry cleaning is part of that equation. Confidence in Israel is another.

      On Iran, Biden recently wrote:

      https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/13/opinions/smarter-way-to-be-tough-on-iran-joe-biden/index.html

      “This past month has proven that Trump’s Iran policy is a dangerous failure. At the United Nations, Trump could not rally a single one of America’s closest allies to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran.”

      Would he have written that if he meant to include Israel in his list of America’s closest allies at the UN?

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-disgrace-israel-condemns-un-for-rejecting-extension-of-iran-arms-embargo/

      Perhaps he meant America’s closest allies on the United Nations Security Council, where Israel would make an excellent permanent Member on a reformed Council of 17 to 19 members?

  10. I wish Turley would get off the “foreign intelligence” bandwagon. The DNI has said it is not. The laptop was turned over to the FBI last DECEMBER! The only thing that’s new is that the public has finally been made aware of it, thanks to the repair shop owner’s contact with Giuliani.

    1. Ratcliffe has next no intelligence background, lied about his role in prosecuting terrorism cases, had his nonimation withdrawn because of those lies before being nominated a second time, and is a Trump toady.

      Anyone who takes Ratcliffe at his word isn’t interested in the truth.

            1. Snowden: a true American hero, but guilty as charged. But he exposed the NSA spying on Americans and made what we all suspected a confirmed fact.
              That’s why he’s a hero. So, he should be pardoned

              Assange: a foreigner who had every bit as much right to publish “classified materials” as the NYT does
              unfairly treated by US intelligence

              the amended indictment against him may have some teeth however. perhaps he should be pardoned too.

              but oh they would take Trump’s scalp literally if he did either one of these things. literally. the military-intelligence complex in this country ever steers closer to Praetorianism

              1. JFK intended to disband the CIA; he found it utterly unredeemable and ungovernable. He also forbade Israel from going nuclear because he predicted exactly what we have now, a nuclear ME arms race. One of the first things LBJ did was to reverse JFK”s ruling, allowing Israel to be nuclear armed.

                About three of the world’s best military shooters attempted to replicate Oswald’s shot and all failed miserably. The alleged shots (190 and 265 feet) are difficult with a superb marksman w/modern rifle/scope, much less the WW1 era POS Russian rifle Oswald allegedly used (IIRC he paid about $12 for it @ Sears). Further, Oswald had failed to get his military standard shooting certificate, and never practiced with that rifle; there was no range with a long of enough target anywhere near Oswald’s home.

  11. Facebook and Twitter blocked access to the New York Post articles, allegedly because they prohibit the publishing of hacked materials. Leave aside the obvious double standard. Once Hunter Biden’s laptop was abandoned, it (and all of the contents therein) became the property of the store owner. The fact is that you cannot hack your own property.

  12. Over the weekend Darren posted an interesting comment on federal regulations and the use of AI to try to clean them out.

    Administrative Law is inherently boring. It is also inherently dangerous. It is, as prominent administrative law text author, Gary Lawson, said ‘a return of the king’ , that is to say, a return to arbitrary executive power of the type that led to the beheading of Charles I. The dangers have long been recognized in Anglo/American law and they have not gone away.
    Always for the best of reasons regulation is piled upon regulation and each is enforced by bureaucrats who often fail to understand the bad consequences of their good intentions. Worse, bad consequences also flow from bad intentions as happened with Gibson Guitar https://humanevents.com/2014/05/30/the-true-villains-behind-the-gibson-guitar-raid-are-revealed/

    With the work of scholars like Professor Philip Hamburger there is increasing awareness that at the deepest levels much of administrative law has no legal foundation, that is to say, that it is unlawful. https://www.amazon.com/Administrative-Law-Unlawful-Philip-Hamburger/dp/022632463X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1RIWCPK2AD07Z&dchild=1&keywords=is+administrative+law+unlawful&qid=1603209906&sprefix=is+administrative%2Caps%2C202&sr=8-1

    But that is a long battle that has only begun.

    Meanwhile finding a way to get rid of faulty regulations may not need to rely on Artificial Intelligence. The agencies creating and administering regulations have people who more than anyone else in the country are likely to know what regulations can be abolished almost immediately. President Trump has tapped on that resource by requiring an agency creating a new regulation to search through its own regulations and find two or three that can be dispensed with before the new regulation is put in place.

    That could help, though even that may difficult since clearly some permanent members of the government appear to be in a subtle insurrection against the authority of the president and against the authority of the people who elected him.

    I hope Darren revisits this topic.

    1. yes it’s a good essay darren wrote

      but more to the point of this article is how Twitter uses AI to censor content

      why did Twitter have the massive “outage” a day after the NY Post story they decided to censor?

      because their AI censorship routines were overwhelmed

      trust me as we “twitter our thumbs” Twitter is correcting its AI and making it more durable at the censorship game

      cancel Silicon Valley before they cancel us!

    2. Young– I agree. There are two doctrines that make administrative agencies, particularly those that regulate specific industries or professions, even more dangerous than they otherwise would be. First, courts defer to the interpretations agencies give to the laws that create and empower them. Not surprisingly, nearly every agency interpretation expands the agency’s reach and the scope of the “legitimate” activities of those it regulates. Second, when called upon to function in a quasi-judicial capacity, the agencies’ decisions are measured against a “substantial evidence” standard which, as you know, is the lowest standard known to law– on the opposite side of the universe from beyond a reasonable doubt. An agency’s decision will stand if there is any evidence to support it, even if there is far more evidence against it. Congress and state legislatures are to blame for this mess.

    3. ” President Trump has tapped on that resource by requiring an agency creating a new regulation to search through its own regulations and find two or three that can be dispensed with before the new regulation is put in place.”

      I had forget Trump did that right out of the gate, which I thought was cool at the time.

      I recall having that same idea as what to do to help correct harmful regs at least 30 years ago.

  13. “Should government agencies stop using Facebook and Twitter?,” as Darren Smith has asked in his weekend column?

    Or should these services be internationalized?

    International communications and diplomacy are now embedded in Twitter:

    https://www.orfonline.org/research/twitter-diplomacy-a-brief-analysis-60462/

    “In the past few years, Twitter has served as a versatile form of political public square for domestic and world affairs. The use of Twitter, largely propelled by the prominence of social media in the current environment for the discharge of diplomatic functions, has become an integral part of contemporary international relations. Indeed, Twitter has created its own form of diplomacy by incorporating itself to augment traditional diplomatic functions such as deliberation and negotiation. This brief demonstrates how Twitter has played a significant role in the realm of diplomacy in the past few years. It analyses the role played by ‘Twiplomacy’, and underscores both its useful and deleterious effects on the conduct of international relations.”

    Any discussion of their internationalization as global public goods will involve the International Telecommunications Union:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houlin_Zhao

    And an international compact on free and responsible speech.

    1. At home we have never used any social media. We fail to understand why people continue to use them.
      if the Netflix film “Social Dilemma” did not convince users (apropos), then they are addicts just like Hunter Biden

      walk away. unplug. shut it down. engage people in your midst.

      1. social media is an addiction but it also is a tool. the tool must come under control before those who own it rule as all like so many dopamine addicted slaves

        leverage social media against itself

      2. The Blogosphere: a space and time transcending medium for positive socialization at best, and for most; an addiction to increasingly anti-social behavior at worst, for a minority. The power of a US President’s words to hurt or heal is the subject of Minority Whip Durbin’s speech on the Senate Floor as I write this. Whip Durbin requests a less abusive discourse from POTUS, and more stimulus from Leader McConnell’s side of the aisle. Telegraphed via C-SPAN.

        1. Durbin occasionally says something smart. His questions for Barrett were better than the rest of his colleagues on the Dem side.

  14. Chris Hedges:

    “The Politics of Cultural Despair”

    October 20, 2020

    “As our empire implodes, and with it social cohesion, we must face what is happening — not only around us— but within us.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/20/chris-hedges-the-politics-of-cultural-despair/

    One Thing Matters

    Only one thing matters to the corporate state. It is not democracy. It is not truth. It is not the consent of the governed. It is not income inequality. It is not the surveillance state. It is not endless war. It is not jobs. It is not the climate crisis. It is the primacy of corporate power — which has extinguished our democracy, taken from us our most basic civil liberties and left most of the working class in misery — and the increase and consolidation of its wealth and power.

    Trump and Biden are repugnant figures, doddering into old age with cognitive lapses and no moral cores. Is Trump more dangerous than Biden? Yes. Is Trump inepter and more dishonest? Yes. Is Trump more of a threat to the open society? Yes. Is Biden the solution? No.

    Biden cannot plausibly offer change. He can only offer more of the same. And most Americans do not want more of the same. The country’s largest voting-age bloc, the 100 million-plus citizens who out of apathy or disgust do not vote, will once again stay home. This demoralization of the electorate is by design.

    In America we are only permitted to vote against what we hate. Partisan media outlets set one group against another, a consumer version of what George Orwell in his novel 1984 called the “Two minutes of Hate.” Our opinions and prejudices are skillfully catered to and reinforced, with the aid of a detailed digital analysis of our proclivities and habits, and then sold back to us.

    The result, as Matt Taibbi writes, is “packaged anger just for you.” The public is unable to speak across the manufactured divide. Politics, under the assault, has atrophied into a tawdry reality show centered on manufactured political personalities. Civic discourse has been poisoned by invective and lies. Power, meanwhile, is left unexamined and unchallenged.

    Political coverage is modeled, as Taibbi points out, on sports coverage. The sets look like the sets on Sunday NFL Countdown. The anchor is on one side. There are four commentators, two from each team. Graphics keep us updated on the score. Political identities are reduced to easily digestible stereotypes. Tactics, strategy, image, the monthly tallies of campaign contributions and polling are endlessly examined, while real political issues are ignored. It is the language and imagery of war.

    This coverage masks the fact that on nearly all the major issues the two major political parties are in complete agreement. The deregulation of the financial industry, trade agreements, the militarization of police — the Pentagon has transferred more than $ 7.4 billion in excess military gear and hardware to nearly 8,000 federal and state law enforcement agencies since 1990 — the explosion in the prison population, deindustrialization, austerity, support for fracking and the fossil fuel industry, the endless wars in the Middle East, the bloated military budget, the control of elections and mass media by corporations and the wholesale government surveillance of the population–and when the government watches you 24 hours a day you cannot use the word liberty, this is the relationship of a master and a slave — all have bipartisan support. And for this reason, these issues are almost never discussed.

    Chris Hedges

    1. Chris Hedges is one of the few Leftists out there who pay any attention to money and financial power. He is worth a listen from time to time. I like some of his ideas.

      He continues to misunderstand the Trump phenomenon which actually delivers on some of his usual concerns.

  15. According to JT, “Notably [Democrats] do not address the underlying [Hunter Biden] emails. As many of us [Leftists] have written, there is ample reason to suspect foreign intelligence and the FBI is reportedly investigating that possibility. However, that does not mean that the emails are not authentic. Hillary Clinton was hacked by Russia but the emails were still real.”

    Multiple lies here. There is not only not “ample” reason to suspect foreign intelligence; there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever supporting that false claim. And there is still no evidence whatsoever that Clinton was “hacked by Russia,” despite the countless lies about it from presstitutes posing as journalists. And, finally, there is no evidence that the FBI has done anything of merit in the last 10 years. The FBI is a fraudulent agency riddled with criminal operatives.

    As noted by Doug Mallouk, in his article, “Russian hack of 2016 elections didn’t happen,” published in The Baltimore Sun, April 29, 2019 AT 4:55 PM:

    1. “To this day, neither the FBI nor any other law enforcement agency has even asked to examine the DNC server that was allegedly hacked. Astoundingly, they have simply taken at face value the assessment of CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC itself, and headed by a well-known bitterly anti-Putin Russian expatriate. How’s that for investigative thoroughness and impartiality?”

    2. “By far, the most serious forensic analysis of the “hack that wasn’t,” comes from the work of William Binney, former technical director of the NSA and now a leader of the veteran intelligence professionals for sanity. Mr. Binney clearly demonstrates that the recorded speed of the download of the cited e-mails to Wikileaks was almost double the maximum rate possible using even the most advanced technology via the internet, but well within the limits for a (far faster) direct transmission using a thumb drive or other storage device. Therefore, it had to be a leak, not a hack from Russia or anyplace else. Why was there zero effort by team Mueller to interview or consult with this man?”

    3. “The much-ballyhooed “unanimous consensus” of the seventeen U.S. Intelligence Services that bad Vlad and his minions were culpable, has been shown to be a multilevel fraud. It turns out that their document was written by representatives of just four — no, make that three — agencies, each one of whom was handpicked because of their known proclivities to write just what they did. Even then, the best they could manage was “high confidence” for two of the services and a mere “moderate confidence” for the third, in the soundness of their conclusions. As Mr. Binney has quipped, these phrases are bureaucratic doublespeak for “We have no hard evidence, but this is our best guess.” Yet the Mueller report rubber-stamped their judgment as revealed truth.”

    4. “Based on the near-reverential deference and adulation being lavished on Robert Mueller and the U.S. intelligence community generally by many of the “resist” crowd, one might think that these folks have had an unblemished record of competence and truthfulness as the core of their reputation. But aren’t these the same institutions that told us in December 1964 that North Vietnam had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin? That Saddam Hussein’s troops were killing helpless little tots in Kuwait by disconnecting baby incubators in 1990? Or that Iraq itself was one big arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of that nation? Robert Mueller was personally, actively involved in disseminating that latter deadly fraud. Exactly when did he and his “intel” cohorts ascend from that sordid activity to achieve sainthood status?”

    See: https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/readers-respond/bs-ed-rr-russian-hack-elections-letter-20190429-story.html

    1. Don’t believe everything you read.

      As a start, “To this day, neither the FBI nor any other law enforcement agency has even asked to examine the DNC server that was allegedly hacked. Astoundingly, they have simply taken at face value the assessment of CrowdStrike” isn’t true. The FBI didn’t take it at face value. They got images of everything and did their own analysis. An “image” is an exact replica. It has the operating system, boot information, apps, files, everything.

      Part of the Crowdstrike testimony to Congress under oath:
      MR. SCHlFF: And during those hundred or more contacts, did the FBI ever tell you that they needed the DNC server for their own forensic analysis?
      MR. HENRY: They asked us to provide to them the images of the computers and the results of our collection. They did ask for that, and we shared that with them.
      MR. SCHIFF: And did they ever indicate to you that they thought that the images that you had given them or the information you had given them was incomplete for their own analysis and they required access to the servers?
      MR. HENRY: I have no recollection of them saying that to me or anybody on my team, no.

      MR. HENRY: we have software that we send in to the environment, it collects artifacts, if you will, of what happened — l mean, l’d equate it to shell casings or — it’s digital evidence – and pulls it back. lt’s the remnants of code. And we will sort through all that, analyze that. We provided that information to the FBI. I believe that there are a couple of actual digital images, which would be a copy of a hard drive that we also provided to the FBI. And there were — we’re talking about, I don’t know the exact number, but in excess of 10, I think, hard drives. Again, I believe you’ve got the documents, so I don’t want to say anything that’s inaccurate. But it’s not — we’re not talking about one drive.
      MR. SCHlFF: And those copies of the drives allow you to create a duplicate virtual environment as the DNC server?
      MR. HENRY: Yes.

      1. Except Anonymous you may not be familiar with FBI SOPs in every case involving digital evidence.

        Standard Operating Procedure is clear. FBI MAKES THE MIRROR IMAGE COPY. NOT THE DEFENDANT– NOR THE “VICTIM”

        ask any FBI agent. look it up. not in this case, look up the manuals and CLEs for evidence. i have heard it straight from the FBI long before this case and nothing changed.

        except this case in which the FBI mysteriously did not follow their own SOPs and let the victim’s contractor do the copying

        so it was flawed, suspect, and obviously fake from the start.

        people may have a hard time believing and anonymous nobody like me. but see i am not a lying biased journalist trying to help out the Democrats.

        https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/april2000/swgde.htm

        REPEAT. FBI “ALWAYS” TAKES THE HARD DRIVES AND COMPUTER HARDWARE AND MAKES THE MIRROR COPY THEMSELVES

        they NEVER rely on victim contractors to do it.

        except this ONE TIME.

  16. What is happening in the US is fascism. Call it the Chinese model as they do do this, but it’s all over the major western nations, including the US.

    These are not private companies. They receive incredible sums of money from USG for military and “health” contracts on citizens. Don’t believe me, go check out Whitney Webb on Unlimited Hangout.

    As these companies are part of USG they are responsible for abiding by the first amendment. If they wish to engage in censorship they can immediately end their contracts w/USG. USG should cancel their contracts but since USG is very censorious and couldn’t care less about the Constitution or the rights of our people, this will be a cold day in ,,,,

    It is so bad that these corporations appear to be illegally trying to take down rival platforms such as brandnewtube.

  17. I’m not sure what Prof Turley is looking at/saying, but it looks damn sure AG Barr/Dir Wray/DOJ/FBI are once again aiding&abetting, cover ups, this time regarding Joe/Hunter Biden’s crimes, in espionage plus against the USA.

    The relevant comments start at about 30.00 minutes in:

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