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. Here’s the thing, Professor, and I only have this one post to cover both of your posts including the reply to Espo. These new McCarthyism proponents are dishonestly maneuvering to create a mechanism to define speech that they don’t like as “disinformation” and a “public health risk” and as such, when you, Professor, feel the need to state that you agree with many policy positions with Espo such as her climate change positions, it comes off as one of those “Hitler liked dogs, too”; the day might come when you are sorry that you thought people like Espo should be allowed the shroud of legitimacy on this subject because she does other things of which you approve.

    The intellectual dishonesty of the endeavor of these politicians is immediately apparent when Subcommittee Chair Doyle, in his opening statement starting only 2 minutes in, Doyle shamelessly presents a subjective narrative of the COVID as if it were Newton’s Second Law thereby framing any speech that wasn’t in lockstep as being responsible for unnecessary deaths of Americans. Not lost on any astute listener was the fact that the speech he touted, as “downplaying the seriousness” and “told audience they didn’t need to wear masks” define the speech of Antony Fauci, who currently is sitting on an altar in the Biden administration as he did in the Trump administration; the Little All Knowing Priest that never has to even cite medical evidence, his word is an everchanging but immutable “truth”.

    However we know that if it was their intention to indiscriminately weed proven liars, they can lead by example with Brennan, Hayden, Comey, Swalwell and Schiff. And Doyle can throw himself in the furnace as well, with his lie at 3:36 into his opening speech where he states that “a capitol police officer was murdered” at the DC rampage. That’s a lie, it’s a lie meant to whip up passion and as such exactly what these little Goebbels pretend they are fighting against.

    There is another question and it’s not about whether or not a group of mendacious hypocrites should be taken seriously when they imagine they will massively abridge the free speech of Americans under false pretenses, because we have to take them seriously, they have immense power that they intend to wield.

    The question is whether or not they are part of the conversation of civilized men, and those seats are not subject to democratic oversight, they are granted in the cosmic world by truly civilized men, the descendants of the enlightenment. And since Professor Turley defines what it means to be a knight a that table, the time has come for these people to be delivered the verbal gut punch that they have earned and forget the velvet glove and the politeness, it dilutes the efficacy of the seriousness of these issues.

  2. Idiots in Congress. Many could have died in the attack. They do not understand defense of person, defense of property, defense of freedom. The cops and guards on the ground at the Capitol Bldg could have stopped the invasion and hence the theft and destruction and threats to life. It’s so easy. Stand at the steps with pistols, rifles, automatic weapons, tasers, firehises. First aimed up. Then aimed at the approaches. Fired the firehises and shoot the tasers. Those who keep coming. One shot in the air with guns and then start mowing them down.
    Probably would have stopped them with tasers and firehises.
    Get some new troops to guard the government buildings. Get rid of existing “capitol guards”.
    It’s simple.
    Folks on this blog need to stand up.
    Turley: read what I just wrote.

      1. (music)
        It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…
        You would cry to if it happened to you!

        — by “party” I mean Democrat Party.

    1. Curious to hear of any stand down orders from up top as more is revealed. Because a strong perimeter, shields and batons to the face would’ve been sufficient for the crew that thought they actually had an invitation.


  3. Correction to text: the communist witch hunt senator was Joseph McCarthy, not ex-presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy.

  4. They don’t have to look far to find BLM or Antifa. This is what dictators do. BLM and Antifa violence at the Capitol and in our cities seems to be acceptable.
    “Taylor: “We’ve engaged with the RNC to communicate that no messages on behalf of President Trump and no messages questioning the validity or integrity of the election are allowed on our platform under the guidelines that they may incite violence.”
    Taylor: “We’re looking across our customer base to make sure our technology is not being used by businesses or platforms that are inciting political violence.”
    Eric Loeb, Salesforce Executive VP of Government Affairs: “We are pausing all PAC contributions…the pause or suspension certainly includes the suspension of any contributions to members of Congress that voted to object to the [presidential election] certification.”

    Full video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBUK1jMvKAE&feature=youtu.be

  5. I wonder if some people can remind me about what the Nazi’s felt about books?


    Amazon quietly ends sales of books it labels ‘hate speech’

    Retail giant made policy change sometime prior to purging from its store “When Harry Became Sally,” a book criticizing transgender ideology.

    Sometime before this week, when it removed from its digital shelves a book critical of transgender ideology, Amazon altered its content policy to explicitly forbid books that promote “hate speech,” a major rule change that could be used to rationalize action against a broader range of books sold by the digital retail giant.

  6. Looks like a lot of Democrats need to be impeached especially Pelosi since she must have known this information a long time ago.


    Ex-Capitol Police Chief: Intel Indicated Antifa, Proud Boys, Other Groups Would Join on Jan. 6

    Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said that a pre-Jan. 6 intelligence assessment suggested that Antifa, Proud Boys, and extremist groups would partake in the Jan. 6 event in Washington.

    1. Allen wants to spread the lie that Antifa took part in The Capitol Riots. In reality the only Antifa member was John Sullivan, a general mischief-maker whose politics is murky.

      1. “In reality the only Antifa member was John Sullivan”

        You have no idea how many of the Antifa types were embedded in with the Trump supporters.

        But there are lots of videos clearly showing Trump supporters stopping them from breaking windows at the capitol building. In fact, the Antifa types were the first ones who showed up at the capitol building while Trump was still speaking.

      2. The only Antifa member you know of is John Sullivan and that is the end of what you know.

        You assume that what you don’t know doesn’t exist. That means most of what is happening is lost to you. Then you expose your ignorance in the fashion above.

        Believe what you wish.

      3. “John Sullivan, a general mischief-maker whose politics is murky.”

        yeah murky alright. probable paid informant

        take the informants and undercovers out of antifa and you’d decimate the ranks

  7. As a side note on the subject in General we recently went through an attempt to have Money as Free Speech made legal. Thts we part that was overlooked had to do with violation of Citizens Rights. If memory serves the major reason to turn this down was it attempted to give rights not granted at the sany oame time taking away at least five rights already granted from the citizens to the various levels of government.

    The effort was primarily pushed forward to let people like Soros flood selected areas with extra campaign funding and in areas where he had no geo-political business; i.e was neither living, registered, nor had any legal interest. The basic fault was the lack of geo-political connection especially at the local levels.

    In effect the attempt stated ‘I have the right without explanation to all of your rights without exception. Another way of summng up Money as Free Speech.

  8. I address this to Ashcroft’s Zersetzung below. What a SPECIOUS argument. First why go back only to President GW Bush when we could just as easily site President Obama for approving selling interest in U92 to Russian Interests, President Clinton for White Water, President HW Bush for lying about raising taxes, President Reagan for Iran Contra, President Carter for failed Iranian hostage rescue, President Ford for pardoning President Nixon, President Nixon for his China Policy, President Johnson for the fake Gulf of Tonkin incident, President Kennedy for Bay of Pigs, President Eisenhower failed Korean Policy, President Truman for using the Atomic Bomb, President Roosevelt (too many failures to site), further back President Taft for Tea Pot Dome, President Grant for Black Friday, President Lincoln for suspension of Habeas Corpus and the list goes on and on. If we wish to use history for citations of past wrongs as you propose, the worms escaping the can will be overwhelming and uncontrollable.

    1. “No Matter the Liberal Metric Chosen, the Bush/Cheney Administration Was Far Worse Than Trump.”

      “Fantasies of a Trump-led fascist coup have redounded to the benefit of many — especially those responsible for abuses far worse than those of the current president.”

      by Glenn Greenwald

      Nov 7, 2020



      “It should go without saying, though I know it does not, that none of this is a defense of these Trump failings or an attempt to mitigate the harms they caused. What this argument is, instead, is a vehement rejection of the grotesque historical revisionism that seeks to erase and whitewash the far worse moral evils, acts of violence and assertions of lawlessness that preceded him, all in order to propagate myths of American Exceptionalism and, worse, to rehabilitate the reputations and careers of the political and media cretins who perpetrated them.

      “Those who want to insist that Trump’s evils are unprecedented — such that their own service to or support for prior presidents should not exclude them from the realm of the Patriotic, the Decent and the Noble — should be prepared to explain which acts of Trump’s compete with the destruction of Iraq, or the implementation of a global regime of torture, or the “rendition” kidnappings and CIA black sites and illegal domestic eavesdropping under Bush and Obama, or imprisoning people for decades with no due process, and on and on and on.”

      1. “A hidden world, growing beyond control”

        “The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping citizens safe.”

        By Dana Priest and William M. Arkin

        July 19, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. CDT


        Such secrecy can undermine the normal chain of command when senior officials use it to cut out rivals or when subordinates are ordered to keep secrets from their commanders.

        One military officer involved in one such program said he was ordered to sign a document prohibiting him from disclosing it to his four-star commander, with whom he worked closely every day, because the commander was not authorized to know about it. Another senior defense official recalls the day he tried to find out about a program in his budget, only to be rebuffed by a peer. “What do you mean you can’t tell me? I pay for the program,” he recalled saying in a heated exchange.

        Another senior intelligence official with wide access to many programs said that secrecy is sometimes used to protect ineffective projects. “I think the secretary of defense ought to direct a look at every single thing to see if it still has value,” he said. “The DNI ought to do something similar.”

        The ODNI hasn’t done that yet. The best it can do at the moment is maintain a database of the names of the most sensitive programs in the intelligence community. But the database does not include many important and relevant Pentagon projects.

        — Dana Priet, William Arkin

        The full extent of abuses is not known, to this day. It’s time.

        1. “when subordinates are ordered to keep secrets from their commanders…. One military officer involved in one such program said he was ordered to sign a document prohibiting him from disclosing it to his four-star commander, with whom he worked closely every day, because the commander was not authorized to know about it”

          This is normal compartmentalization. They have all kinds of things they keep from the higher ups, on purpose. For many purposes. Sometimes legit, sometimes not. But it is pretty normal.

          For example, the identity of confidential informants, spies, snitches, saboteurs, black operation contractors, you name it. All kept from the regular chain of command both for counter intelligence purposes out of necessity, but also to keep the information from the public, and to ALLOW the abuse of power

          in the end, when a culture in an organization or institution is bad, they will do bad things. Like CIA: habitually dishonest, sneaky, and scheming


          1. “…in the end, when a culture in an organization or institution is bad, they will do bad things. Like CIA: habitually dishonest, sneaky, and scheming” -Sal

            Agreed. And the abuses rarely come to light — and when they do, there’s no accountability.

      2. Bush should have revealed the Mossad scheme to harm America (controlled demolition of 3 WTC buildings) while framing overzealous Saudis and cause a U.S. invasion of the Middle East in order to rearrange it for the benefit of Israel.

        Bush was either too dumb or fully complicit.

        Given the control of Dick Cheney, Mr. Deep Deep State, which was firmly in place, I go with too dumb, gullible and eminently malleable.

        1. “Bush should have revealed the Mossad scheme to harm America”

          You are a nut case. What is that strapped to your back?

  9. Trump unintentionally did a great service to the nation. Any member of Congress can call for accountability of the Bush Torture and Human Rights Abuses. Both parties now agree that former presidents can be held accountable for law-breaking in office. Bush war crimes have no statute of limitations.

    1 member of Congress (out of 535), can initiate a real “21st Century Truth Commission on Unconstitutional Authoritarianism” to summon Bush torture attorneys and Bush torture doctors. Merely 1 member of Congress with fidelity to their Oath of Office could go to a federal judge and file a Writ of Mandamus to appoint this commission.

  10. Ah, the search for the elusive solution…and the Founders gave you the solution to a corrupted, putrefied, nullified and subjugated free state.

    When do you acknowledge that you cannot win against the communists who have “fundamentally transformed” America from the freedoms of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to the forcible dominion of the Communist Manifesto?

    America has everything except the leadership and the leaders who created it.

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and

    to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  11. “Free speech is not a swimming pool to be monitored for safety. It is a rolling ocean and it is beautiful”

    ~Jonathan Turley

    This should be on a tee shirt! Where’s the Merch Shop?

    1. Tell the communist Supreme Court. Tell the SCOTUS that its sole function is, not to legislate or modify legislation, but to merely assure that actions comport with the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution.

  12. I’m truly concerned about the future of our Republic. The current makeup of the Democratic Party and their minion’s represents a threat never seem in America’s history. Free Speech is just one issue, but I think the most critical to our future. If speech becomes a crime, and can be defined by those who currently hold the levers of governance (present or future) then truth will cease to exist. The current refrain “Trust the Science” is a prime example of whose truth to believe when there have been no absolute(s) throughout the current Covid epidemic. Science defined as knowledge involving systematized observation and experimentation, but, as history has taught us, scientists come to various conclusions on the same subject. Yet some want to exclude any questioning of the current Covid mantra pedaled by a select few Scientists, Damning and banning any research that does not match their conclusions. It’s a reminder of such actions by totalitarians of the past “You’re a Witch” burn her at the stake. Those that wish to limit speech may want to consider “First they Came for…”, and as Rumsfeld once said “there are known’s and then there are unknowns” the future is the unknown.

  13. When a Biden cabinet nominee is failing to gain even Democrat support because she is a truly despicable person and an unqualified bitter partisan who should never be anywhere near this position of power, what to do next? Of course, the Dems send out the shameless liar who slept with a Chinese spy for years and get him to throw down the identity politics cards of racism and sexism! Here they go again. Will the tiresome Dem playbook succeed in saving the sinking Neera Tanden nomination? Let’s hope not.

    “I represent one of the largest Indian-American districts in U.S. How do I look at what’s happening to @neeratanden and tell little girls of South Asian descent that they’ll have the same opportunities in life as white men? The answer: I can’t. And that’s a shame.” @RepSwalwell

    1. Rep. Eric Swalwell is not only compromised by CCP, but also a truly despicable and shameless person — which is why Pelosi keeps him on as her right hand henchman. Truly disgusting people, the whole lot of them.

      1. Sorry, that is his right and protected by Pelosi and Schumer. He could sleep with any Asian girl he has his eyes on, as long as he is under my umbrella, said Pelosi!

    2. Using the same reasoning of your, Pelosi or Schumer could easily defend your sleeping with Chinese spy.
      “How do I look at a white Congressman and tell him you can have the same opportunity to sleep with a Chinese girl, I can’t if you people accused him of that act”
      that is his personal life and his preferences for sexual desires which are protected under US Constiution”

    3. Tanden hasn’t said anything worse than lots of people who’ve been confirmed. She is neither a “truly despicable person” nor “an unqualified bitter partisan.”

  14. Turley, you’re going to stand up for Trump supporters that yell fire in a crowded theater. Or storm the nations capital, while saying it was just free speech. Your complicit and morally bankrupt in enabling Trump, your motivated in only being an enabler for the shared psychosis of his cult.

    1. @fishwings

      I would respect you more if you were honest and said, “I support censorship and “hate speech” laws.” Of course, you won’t until the Overton window has further moved in that direction and MSNBC or CNN says its ok. You’ll just call me a slur and would doxx me, if you could.

      Here’s a suggestion, just call everyone who opposes censorship and hate speech laws “nazis”. That way you’ll even get some mainstream conservatives to go along with you as they always do to avoid being called “racist”.

      And Professor Turley, remember this well. Your support for other leftist positions will help you little. Fishwings and his ilk think you’re a nazi too and hate you as much as they do me.


      1. Antonio, Turley by his own admission is a left of center Democrat. But he is employed as an advocate for Fox News so he naturally defends his client. He stated that he did not once vote for Trump, but as a free speech absolutist, he defends Trump’s and Fox News’ right to lie freely without suffering any recourse other than being exposed to others calling them “ liars.”

        1. Antonio…all people lie at one time or another…you are taking some very high moral ground saying it’s just Foxnews and Republicans that lie…you are a big part of the divide in this country…I have a lot of respect for all moderate middle of the road Americans who vote and then just go back to work, pay their bills and raise their family the best way they know how on both sides of the aisle politically. But it’s the hatred by the extreme right and left that is tearing my country apart. Kids are not born to hate or see a person of color or other ethnicity as evil or to be confused by their gender. All that crap is taught by mean people. We hopefully are taught by our parents and friends to love one another. We can disagree and still be friends but to hate just because you disagree ALWAYS ends badly. Their are only 10 commandments and I have broken some and regret doing so…I am a flawed person, a sinner if you will, but I try to do better each day knowing I may fail again. I have no idea what the future holds but I am very worried for the younger generations. I am 72 and very content with where I am at this moment in time but I see the possibility of a great storm coming and when you see a big storm coming you better be prepared.

    2. Fish Wings:

      “Turley, you’re going to stand up for Trump supporters that yell fire in a crowded theater. Or storm the nations capital, while saying it was just free speech.”
      No Trump supporters yelled “fire” in a theater and it remains to be seen who “stormed” the Capitol once the investigation is completed. So as usual Fishy you’ve jumped the gun, missed the point and generally bared your intellectual behind all in one fell swoop. Bravo.

      Now a short poll: any worse bore on the blog than a ungrateful commenter? Aye versus nays

    3. The comment above ‘Trump supporters that yell fire in a crowded theater” provides a good reason for banning speech but only if the parameters are abject ignorance and pure political bias. A suggestion: check out the standing precedent on free speech rather than 93 year old dicta.

    4. FishWings – if only the “Trump supporters” had stormed the capitol *after dark* because as Biden’s AG nominee, Merrick Garland said, in his mind it isn’t “domestic terrorism” if it happens after dark when the work day is technically over. Got it? Protests vs Extremism vs Domestic “TERRORISM” is the difference between day and night according to Merrick Garland.

      1. Merrick Garland mishandled the OKC bombing investigation and suppressed information about certain entities having prior federal law enforcement knowledge of the plan.

        The patriot-militia-racist groups were all saturated with federal informants at the time of OPERATION PATCON and we can bet they wanted bad things to happen.
        Bad things happening justifies more law enforcement budgets, more over-reach, more persecution. And when bad things don’t happen, they can MAKE them happen

        Agent provocateurs, informants, undercovers, all up to no good: bring this guy back and he will be doing exactly the same thing. Watch for false flags. You are forewarned.

        Sal Sar

  15. ‘We’ve just seen a sitting president’s account closed, election discussion terminated, a popular “free speech” app swallowed up by Apple and Amazon, raw footage shot by independent journalists erased, the New York Post account locked – no media company should feel safe.’

    ~Matt Taibbi

      1. Hey FishWings. Where was your concern for free markets when Parlar was crushed. Free markets only apply when FishWings wants to sell his FishWings. Crush all the other sea food sellers. It’s a free market isn’t it? Disingenuous spoiled Bouillabaisse. You know what happens if you eat spoiled fish.

      2. Very interesting FishWings. “Free enterprise” and the “free market”. You make the very same argument as the Robber Barons who monopolized the steel and railroad industries. I know you don’t like history but you might want to Google Robber Barons. I thought you didn’t like them rich guys.

        1. I did. All that popped up was this page and a Reddit Archiver. If it came from a larger Taibbi piece, I’d like to read the article.

          1. I didn’t post the quote, Prairie, but it’s a tweet:


            Taibbi’s articles are found on substack, as you probably know:

            “Even By Democratic Party Standards, Censoring Fox News Is An Insanely Stupid Idea”

            “How will the latest campaign against “misinformation” backfire for the country? Let’s count the ways”


            And you can always check out his UI podcast with Katie Halper. They did something about this, recently, I believe, but I haven’t listened to it, yet.

            1. Thank you, Anonymous. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t pop up for me. I don’t mind looking for things, so I tend to ask only if I cannot find the source. I appreciate your help. I look forward to reading the article you linked, too.

            2. There most certainly are gun confiscation bills which have been introduced by Democrats.

              Licensing of the most common sorts of presently unlicensed gun means, precisely, that they will be confiscated

              Licensing and “registration” schemes– registration being a vague word with almost no legal meaning in this context presently under existing law– but both are euphemisms that equate in practice to confiscation

              The historical precedents from other nations which implemented licensing/ registration schemes are the proof of concept. Abundant, obvious.

              But the mass media will lie, mislead, etc. because their billionaire owners WANT GUN CONFISCATION

              they FEAR THE PEASANTS so they want to DISARM them. simple as that.

              Sal Sar

    1. Taibbi should avoid hyperbole. Election discussion hasn’t been terminated, Parler wasn’t swallowed up by Apple and Amazon, and raw footage shot by independent journalists is still available from those journalists. The other two did occur, but the latter was temporary and Twitter subsequently changed its policy.

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