“And Why Stop There?”: CNN Analyst Calls For Sweeping Regulation of Free Speech On The Internet [Updated]

We previously discussed the unrelenting drumbeat of censorship on the Internet from Democratic leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden. Those calls are growing as anti-free speech advocates see an opportunity in the Biden Administration to crackdown on opposing views. One vocal advocate of censorship and speech controls has been CNN media analyst Oliver Darcy who just ratcheted up his call for de-platforming opposing views. Like many anti-free speech advocates, Darcy simply labels those with opposing views as spreading “disinformation” and demands that they be labeled or barred from social media. In a recent newsletter, Darcy calls for every tweet by Trump to be labeled as disinformation while asking “and why stop there?” Precisely. Once you cross the Rubicon of speech regulation, there is little reason or inclination to stop.  Just look at Europe.

Darcy wrote:

“Nearly every tweet from the president at this point is labeled for misinfo. Which had me thinking. Why doesn’t Twitter just take the step of labeling his entire account as a known source of election disinfo? And why stop there? Why not label accounts that repeatedly spread claims the platform has to fact-check?”

There was a time from the very touchstone of American journalism was the rejection of such calls for censorship, including at CNN.

What is chilling about Darcy’s writings is that they reflect the view of many now in Congress and in the Democratic Party.  Indeed, they reflect many in the Biden campaign. Once a party that fought for free speech, it has become the party demanding Internet censorship and hate speech laws. President-Elect Joe Biden has called for speech controls and recently appointed a transition head for agency media issues that is one of the most pronounced anti-free speech figures in the United States. It is a trend that seems now to be find support in the media, which celebrated the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron before Congress where he called on the United States to follow the model of Europe on hate speech.

Darcy is calling for more active and extensive regulation of speech to protect users from thoughts or views that he considers false or dangerous: “Think of it as a version of NewsGuard for Twitter.”

“NewsGuard” has a lovely Orwellian sound to be added to other codes for censorship like Sen. Richard Blumenthal recently calling for “robust content modification” on the internet. Who can object to a NewsGuard, which Darcy describes like some beneficent St. Bernard watching over our news and social postings?  Of course, what Darcy considers “disinformation” or what Blumenthal considers “robust content modification” is left dangerously undefined.

So put me down as preferring free speech without the helpful guards and content modification. Instead, I hold a novel idea that people can reach their own conclusions on such is disinformation just as Darcy does.

Update:

While not directly at issue, the posting quoted Darcy on the need for a version of NewsGuard.  I made reference to the term in the context of Darcy’s call for greater regulation of speech. After this posting ran, I was contacted by Eric Effron, Editorial Director, NewsGuard. In fairness to them, I wanted to include a statement from him and the company:

“I believe you are misconstruing NewsGuard’s role vis-à-vis censorship. Our ‘Nutrition Labels’ provide readers with insights and information about more than 6,000 news and information sites. When we write that a site does not run corrections, say, or that it obscures its true owner, we are not censoring, but rather, empowering citizens to make smarter decisions about the information they consume. That’s the opposite of censorship.”

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