Turley Testifies On Free Speech and The Free Press In House Hearing

I have the honor of testifying this afternoon before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing will address calls for public and private regulation of speech, including the recent letter from Democratic members asking why Fox News and other networks should be allowed on cable news. The hearing entitled “Fanning The Flames: Disinformation and Extremism In The Media” will be held at 12:30. My testimony is below.

As will come as no surprise to those familiar with my prior writings, I maintain what was once a mainstream view of free speech. I believe that free speech is the greatest protection against bad speech. That view is admittedly under fire and indeed may be a minority view today, but history has shown that public or private censorship does not produce better speech. It is a self-replicating and self-perpetuating path that only produces more censorship and more controlled speech. Accordingly, I  encourage Congress not to proceed down that slippery slope toward censorship.

Roughly 70 years ago, Justice William O. Douglas accepted a prestigious award with a speech entitled “The One Un-American Act,” about the greatest threat to a free nation. He warned that the restriction of free speech “is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” The measures being discussed today have the potential to defeat us all. It is surprisingly easy to convince a free people to give up their freedoms, and exceedingly difficult to regain those freedoms once they are lost.

I will be testifying with three Democratic witnesses: Soledad O’Brien, Anchor, Matter of Fact; Emily Bell, Director, The Tow Center for Digital Media, Columbia University; and Kristin Danielle Urquiza, Co-Founder, Marked by COVID.

Here is my testimony: Turley.Testimony.Disinformation and Extremism.2.24.2021

132 thoughts on “Turley Testifies On Free Speech and The Free Press In House Hearing”

  1. Do the Democrats realize that if we had a tradition of canceling news sources for “disinformation,” most of the MSM would be extinct by now? The lies about WMDs in Iraq would have eliminated most of the MSM. Russiagate would have done in the rest. The arrogance and tone deafness of the Democrats, who refuse to clean up their own filthy house, is mind boggling.

  2. George Orwell
    “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.

    We are in extraordinary times and Mr Turley is spot on.

    1. Did Turley point out that Chairman Doyle lied, three and half minutes into his opening speech when he stated that “A capitol police officer was murdered” at the DC rampage?

  3. The Democrats want the members of the military to reaffirm their oath to the constitution, what are they afraid of? They suggest that veterans are white supremacist. Imagine, the men and women who they throw into battle with the wars they start are white supremacist. I prefer the Democrats reaffirm THEIR oath to the constitution.

  4. To rationalize its desire for authoritarian control and censorship, the Left dangles the bogeyman of “disinformation” — by which it means: Any information or opinions with which the higher authorities disagree.

    The irony, of course, is that two of the greatest sources of actual disinformation (i.e., information that is misleading or false) are leftist politicians and the MSM. For the former, see for example “systemic racism.” For the latter, see the four-year campaign to dub nearly anything Trump did as an “impeachable offense.”

    Whenever the Left accuses someone of a “crime,” you can bet that they’re perpetrating it.

  5. Sir, you who represented us 75 million plus conservatives, were out numbered 3 to 1 plus the 3 pillars of the USA now all lean far left. I don’t see any way we get a fair hearing. Big tech has way to much money, power and influence with PAC money plus dark money that can never be traced that controls the USA today. Once you fall of the cliff without a parachute or rope to stop or control your fall you just have to accept your fate. It’s not a slippery slope anymore sir it’s a civil war.

      1. Elvis Bug, what you believe really doesn’t count. I believe that Hugo Chavez and Madero won by large numbers and I can even probably find those numbers, but does that mean that the election irregularities didn’t mean another victor.. You wish to deny all those things that were unusual in our last election because you believe Maduro, Castro, Stalin etc won totally according to the law.

        No, the election process in the US this last time is open to debate even though I accept Biden as President. Trump won the last election and many Democrats refused to admit it. That is the difference between the left and those that believe in rule of law.

          1. Anonymous the Stupid my paragraph clearly talked about this election between Biden and Trump and the last election that Trump won. You are too Stupid.

        1. “That is the difference between the left and those that believe in rule of law.” — S. Meyer-Allan

          Get over yourself, Allan. What a bs statement.

        2. Anonymous the Stupid, do you know what the rule of law is and how to test that it is being upheld?

          Of course not. That is why you make your Stupid comments.

          1. Yet many claim there were significant irregularities when they counted and significant legislation was not followed. CNN is not a reputable source on this subject. You should listen to Jeff Zucker’s comments telling others at CNN what to do. He proved CNN to be totally biased and willing not to tell the truth.


              1. Anonymous the Stupid, that is a type of collusion and Jeff Zucker is on tape. Fox made a statement in good faith. They were probably substantially correct in that the machines were fiddled with and other things. The courts will settle things but I want to hear discovery.

                You are too Stupid to realize how devastating discovery can be.

      2. EB you forgot to count the family members who are conservative but either did not for or not of age yet…a lot of folks did not vote knowing their vote would not count and guess what they were correct…Biden got more votes than Obama in his first and second terms…and I’m sure you think it was just energizing the lefts base…baloney…do we even have a country if a national election can be stolen???…Biden is a modern day dictator/puppet controlled by the radical left…justice Thomas just wrote a scathing descending opinion of the SCOTUS when they rejected the latest appeal about voter fraud…that means even SCOTUS now panders to the progressives…no reason to pack the court now…us conservatives have been betrayed by the highest court in the land…they wouldn’t even hear the case…so our only path to freedom is convention of the states and succession from the union…we have 35 states now…we only need 3 more.

  6. Maybe Fox’s (and a few other networks) biggest fault is it seems to embrace an “ends justify unconstitutional means” mindset – this is the polar opposite of the American model of government. This view supports unAmerican concepts like the “Unitary Executive Theory” that essentially means we elect dictators every election with unlimited authority (unless the presidents are Democrat – the theory only applies to Republicans).

    In the American model, constitutional due process (the means) determine the end result. Real constitutional-conservatives follow this American model. The managers of Fox may want to check out the non-partisan “Why We Fight” documentary in 2006.

    1. “This view supports unAmerican concepts like the “Unitary Executive Theory” that essentially means we elect dictators every election with unlimited authority (unless the presidents are Democrat – the theory only applies to Republicans).”

      AZ, of course what you said is wrong. I won’t doubt that sometimes things can seem that way on anyone broadcast anywhere but I have noted Fox to be more honest than the network news or other cable news channels.Trump actually lived within the rules of the Constitution better than any recent President I can think of.

      Maybe you can provide some examples. Remember, all three branches compete for power so such competition is not acting like a dictator.

  7. Reading some of the comments above it is obvious that some do not accept differences of opinion and do not know the difference between a lie and opinion. They are intolerant.

  8. Justice William O. Douglas “warned that the restriction of free speech “is the most dangerous of all subversions.”

    I think that summarizes the hearings perfectly. Now our leaders have to lead us back in the direction of our Constitutional Republic or lead us in the direction of fascism.

  9. I have had time to skim over just the last few pages of Turley’s statement, but it is abundantly clear that Turley is not only a Fox News legal analyst, he defends Fox as if he were its paid legal defender, not merely a contributor. His making a journalistic equivalence between Fox News and CNN and MSNBC is pure gaslighting. Again, Turley ignored the fact that Fox is being sued for defamation for knowingly, deliberately or recklessly lying on behalf of Trump. Fox was not acting in good faith.

    1. Jeffrey Silberman wrote, “His making a journalistic equivalence between Fox News and CNN and MSNBC is pure gaslighting.”

      Those words of your alone are signature significance of a deeply seeded bigotry and complete intolerance to opinions that differ from your own. Where did you learn your anti-conservative propaganda trolling techniques?

  10. In a bit of an ironic twist, please note that I could not access your witness statement directly from the House E & C’s website although the other three witnesses’ statements were easily accessed. “Internal server error” for Mr. Turkey’s statement and lovely PDF’s for the others. I shall try to control my “government conspiracy” paranoia.

  11. Far-right wingers should not be deprived of the right to be uninformed, misinformed, and otherwise fed a heaping helping of FOX/Trump propaganda nonsense.

    1. McWilliams, I’m not suggesting banning Fox News. I’m simply condemning Turley for ignoring its disinformation when he knows all too well that it is not a respectable outfit because it traffics in lies all too often. For the same reason that Turley would drop dead before associating himself with the likes of Infowars, a respectable academic should avoid Fox News like COVID.

    2. @Bill: …Just as leftists should be equally free to the same type of nonsense from (infinity)-(FOX, et. al), which is Mr. Turley’s point. I’m glad that we agree on such a fundamental, patent, and inspired point. I would submit that this agreement stems directly from the very notion under consideration–free speech; and, thus, proves its critical value and the utter need for more of it. Well done!

    3. Bily McWilliams,

      Do You apply the same standard to MSNBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo, Politico, and other Leftist outlets that were proven manifestly wrong in their coverage of the Russia Collusion story?

      Why do you wish to only ban free speech for those you oppose?

      You seem to be the Poster Boy for what Professor Turley is describing…..how does that make you feel?

  12. I’ll be watching to see if anyone confronts Turley with the fact that his employer Fox News is more guilty of bad speech than any other cable network save Newsmax and OAN. Fox News more than any network has contributed to the polarization in this country. And yet Turley turns a blind eye to the Big Lie repeated time and again by the program hosts he blithely contributed to their broadcasts. I hate to say it, but Turley has sold out his credibility by his hypocritical refusal to acknowledge the role Fox News played in enabling Trump’s chronic and habitual lying.

        1. That is Anonymous the Stupid insulting another again. This time he insults an immutable characteristic, what a person looks like. That type of person not that long ago would be insulting Afro-Americans because of their immutable characteristic. Anonymous the Stupid, that type of insult makes one a racist.

    1. On CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, N.Y. Times, Washington Post, officer Sicknick killed with a fire extinguisher. Silberman somehow couldn’t find their retractions. In Silberman’s mind the words from these outlets are proclamations from god. Unlike Mr Silberman concerning Fox News I am not calling for the elimination of the mentioned news outlets. Imagine a country were your speech is controlled by the likes of Mr. Silberman. Did I detect a shudder.

      1. Thinkitthrough, The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Mike Doyle shared “a Capitol police officer was murdered” in the DC rampage, just three minutes into his opening speech at the hearing. They could have shut it down then.

    2. Jeffrey Silberman, at three minutes and thirty-six minutes into Subcommittee Chairman Doyle’s opening speech at the hearing, he states “a capitol policeman was murdered” at the DC rampage. That story from the NYT was known to be untrue days ago. I think a good place to start culling out liars would be DC itself, Doyle can self-immolate and lead by example. Certainly John Brennan can go, he’s an admitted liar. Until you care that Schiff repeatedly convened secret meetings in a ‘skiff’ and then abused the public by coming out of meetings where no press was allowed to be the public’s ear, and came out and lied about what had been said in those meetings and told the public that he had seen proof of Russian collusion within the star chamber, unless you care about cases of lying from public officials with the egregious potential that such lying had on public perception and public policy, you can’t be taken seriously on the issue, let alone have any standing regarding the Professor.

  13. The First Amendment has never been amended to change it’s letter & spirit. Congress doesn’t have the authority to violate the First Amendment (constitutionality as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court).

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s “judicial review” authority (“Marbury v. Madison”) – drawing constitutional out of bounds for the co-equal Legislative and Executive Branches at the local, state and federal levels is also restricted.

    The high court’s legal authority is to interpret the “letter & spirit” of individual amendment and articles applied to modern times. It requires a constitutional-amendment to change the meaning of individual amendments and articles. That authority (to amend the Constitution) is the jurisdiction of a super-majority of voters from a majority of states. None of the three branches have censoring authority if it violates the First Amendment’s letter & spirit.

    Turley’s should tell Congress, you have no extrajudicial authority to censor legal First Amendment activity without a constitutional-amendment.

  14. Good statement, JT. Not sure I agree with your categorizations of right and left, or conservative vs. progressive but overall a decent statement. Also not sure it truly explores the territory of speech uttered in bad faith…, but hey, what’s the future if not to iron things like this out.

    1. I agree with you, about the good faith part. You can’t ignore them because they have too much power, however it should not be passed over that they are intellectually dishonest and they don’t care at all who knows it, and then go on to parse the issues as if the real concern of Democrats is anything besides an attempt to criminalize conservative speech.

  15. “… recent letter from Democratic members asking why Fox News and other networks should be allowed on cable news.”
    Move over Republicans, the Dims are now the “party of stupid” or tyranny. Either label fits.

    1. !. Liberals cannot emotionally process opposition. They’ve been bad at it for a long time and it gets worse with every cohort.

      2. Liberals have no clear sense of the limits of their own understanding. You should see what comes over our Facebook wall from the partisan Democrats among our social circle and compare it to what the rest of our social circle have to say.

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