Is the Red Scare Going Blue? Democrats Accuse Government Critics of Being “Putin Lovers” and Supporting Insurrectionists

Below is my column in the New York Post on the growing attacks on those who are challenging the alleged abuses by the FBI and the censorship system on social media.

Here is the column:

“The Democratic Party [is] the bedfellow of international communism.” Those words from Sen. Joe McCarthy captured the gist of the Red Scare and the use of blacklists and personal attacks to silence critics. The Democrats this week appear to have taken up the same cudgel in labeling opponents and critics Russian sympathizers and fellow travelers in opposing government involvement in a massive censorship system.

The Red Scare is back and it is going blue.

I testified this week in Congress on the Twitter Files and how they suggest what I have called “censorship by surrogate” or proxy.

The files show dozens of FBI and government employees actively seeking the censorship of citizens and others for their viewpoints. In my testimony, I warned that this was reminiscent of the McCarthy period where the FBI played a role in the establishment of blacklists for socialists, communists, and others. I encouraged Congress not to repeat its failures from the 1950s by turning a blind eye to such abuse.

This view was amplified by former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who became persona non grata for her anti-war sentiments in Congress. She was later labeled a “Russian asset” by Hillary Clinton, who has refused to support that scurrilous claim against a former member.

For years, the Democrats pushed a Russian collusion theory that collapsed. It was later disclosed that the Clinton campaign hid and then lied about funding the infamous Steele Dossier. Nevertheless, people like Carter Page were falsely accused of being Russian agents and critics of the investigation labeled as Russian apologists. Ironically, the FBI was warned that the dossier appeared to be the result of Russian disinformation and relied on a presumed Russian agent.

If anything, my warning of McCarthy-like attacks and measures seemed to be taken more as a suggestion than an admonition by some. Soon after the end of the hearing, MSNBC contributor and former Sen. Claire McCaskill appeared on MSNBC to denounce the member witnesses (Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Ron Johnson, and former Rep. Gabbard) as “Putin apologists” and Putin lovers.

She exclaimed, “I mean, look at this, I mean, all three of those politicians are Putin apologists. I mean, Tulsi Gabbard loves Putin.” (For the record, she also attacked me as not being “a real lawyer.”)

What was most striking is the level of attacks on those seeking an investigation into possible FBI abuses. The Democratic Party was once the greatest defender of free speech, the greatest critic of corporate power, and the greatest skeptic of the FBI. It is now opposing the investigation into the FBI’s involvement in a massive corporate-run censorship system.

In the 1950s, it was easy for politicians to avoid discussing underlying views by just labeling their opponents as fellow travelers. We are watching the same use of personal attacks today as a way to evade the troubling disclosures in the Twitter Files.

While some like McCaskill yell “Russians!” others use more modern labels, such as “conspiracy theorists.” That notably includes the FBI itself.

When criticized for the role FBI agents played in secretly targeting citizens for censorship, the FBI called critics “conspiracy theorists . . . feeding the American public misinformation.” It is something that you might expect from a pundit or politician. It is far more menacing when this attack comes from the country’s largest law enforcement agency.

Where the Hoover FBI would call dissenters “Communist sympathizers,” the Wray FBI labels them “conspiracy theorists.”

Alternatively, various Democrats portrayed anyone criticizing Twitter for censorship as supporting insurrections against the government. Member after member suggested that seeking to investigate the government’s role in censorship was to invite or even welcome another Jan. 6.

Thus, when Thomas Baker, a former FBI agent, testified on his extensive writings about changes in the FBI, he was attacked by freshman Congressman Dan Goldman (D-NY) who asked him if he had any experience investigating extremist groups. He didn’t get the answer he hoped for. When Baker responded, “Yes,” and tried to explain his prior experience, Goldman immediately cut him off and accused him of trying to sell a book.

For my part, I got off light. I was not accused of being a Russian mole or fellow traveler of insurrectionists. After responding to a question on the specific content of the files (released and confirmed by Twitter itself), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), denounced me for offering “legal opinions” without actually working at Twitter. It is like saying that a witness should not discuss the content of Pentagon Papers unless one worked at the Pentagon. (By the way, the content of the Pentagon papers as well as the Twitter Files are facts. The implication of those facts are opinions. I was asked about both the factual content of the files and their constitutional implications).

It is all tragically familiar. The effort this week was to attack witnesses rather than address what appears to be the largest censorship system in the history of this country. It is, of course, ironic that those seeking to check such government-supported censorship are the ones being called Putin lovers. Putin loves censorship and likely stands in awe at the success of the left in using the FBI and corporations to regulate speech on social media.

Putin and other authoritarian countries have long feared the Internet and social media. They have struggled to gain the very level of censorship carried out by Twitter and other executives with the support of politicians and pundits.

We now know that members like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) secretly sought censorship of critics, including a columnist. Their success would make Putin blush.

However, Democrats have insisted that freedom is tyranny. Columnist and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich went full Orwellian when he previously dismissed calls for free speech in social media and warned that censorship is “necessary to protect American democracy.”

He then added bizarrely of uncensored social media: “That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.”

Indeed, it is a nightmare, but a familiar one.

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School.

272 thoughts on “Is the Red Scare Going Blue? Democrats Accuse Government Critics of Being “Putin Lovers” and Supporting Insurrectionists”

  1. Prof. Turley

    My ONLY complaint about your colum is that you are only NOW really grasping the depth and breadth of the problem.

    We did not wake up yesterday to the realization that in the past week the left had gained totalitarian control of information.

    We have gotten here Gradulally over decades.
    You note that democrats used to be the party of free speech or FBI suspicion, of suspicion of corporate power.

    Yet, most of the country new even in the 60’s that Much of the Media – particularly TV leaned left.

    That problem has gradully worsened over time, though it came to a head in 2013 when the leading edge of the Social Media generation hit Colleges. And the effect was devastating. Left leaning administrations were under attack by their own even farther left leaning student bodies.
    This moment was the End of the association of the left with actual tolerance.
    We were told that as this generation hit the work place – that the realities of life would bring trhem under control.
    They hit the work place in 2017 and it is the workplace that changed. Our campuses are intolerant and hateful.
    The most hateful people being those ranting about all the invisible haters out their.
    Like during the culture revolution the children seek out capitalist roaders to villify, to put dunce caps on, pummell with insults and to coerce into confession and re-education.

    Fortunately we live in the most tolerantr and free country in the world in the most tolerant and free moment in history,
    And willing victims for this modern cultural revolution are rare.

    Regardless, the problems you are noting are not new, they have merely accelerated in the past decade.

    Regardless, the left has sufficient control of the public square that you only have two choices – go woke, or get red pilled.

    There is no middle ground.

    So we are clear – it is not the right polarizing the country. Outside the left most of use can tolerate those with views we disagree with.
    We can even tolerate MOST of their conduct. There are few redlines outside the left. Don’t perve the kids. Dont force your views on the rest of us and we will get along.

    Look arround – who are the prime targets of the left ? The most powerful attacks and forces towards conformity are MOSTLY targeted at actual liberals such as yourself. It is the Gabbards, the Rowlings, the Navartolovas, that must be made to toe the line, to recant, reducate, and chagrined return to the fold.

    What is disturbing is that so many like you only NOW grasp how serious the problem is.

    We have been facing the new MacCarthy era for a decade.
    From the moment Der Sturmer was driven off the internet.

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    —Martin Niemöller

    The victims have changed. The game is the same.
    This is not just the new MacCarthism, this is not just the new red scare,
    this is the real rise of authoritarianism in the US

    1. Dear Commenter Niemoller …Mr. Turley has been commenting and making valuable legal analysis of the situation for quite some time. Perhaps you don’t read as widely as some of us. That being said…the things that you both point out are true and are happening all around us. Thank God some bright light is beginning to shine on the situation.

      1. I have been here for years. I have read Turley for years.

        He is on the same journey a slowly increasing number of “liberals” have followed.

        The gradual recognition that there is no parity between the dangers of the right and left at this moment in time.
        The greatest threat to this country, to the world is from the modern progressive left. In two decades maybe we will need to worry about the right – though the fundimental nature of conservatism inherently makes it ALWAYS less dangerous even when wrong.

        Regardless Turley is among a large group of liberals and civil libertarians who are slowly getting red pilled and becoming either actual libertarians or sometimes calling themselves classical liberals or in some cases even becoming conservatives.

        The driving factor behind this is the increasing hostility of the left to any concept of individual rights.

        Turley has been writing about this for many years. He has consistently championed individual rights.

        But for much of that time, he has tried to claim parity in threat for both the right and the left.

        The right has many problems. They are not the bastion of protection for individual liberties they sometimes claim.
        But they are also not the danger that the left poses.

        Turley has always been a wise advocagte for individual rights. But increasingly he is grasping that the only consequential threat is from the left.

    2. I agree the new red scare is real….but we the people got took over a long time ago….by the cartels both russian…Chinese and mexican. For a fact I saw the missing me Calvert at the state hockey tournament with his wife in Colorado in 2008. And the spy knows it. And played pink house Mellon camp anyway! Via their jesuits. We’ve been at war a whiile….it’s just who is going to launch the first nuke?. Do I want wwiii? No one logical does. Yet here we are on the precipice of not logical. Which by the 100 monkey theorem can’t last much longer!

  2. Demotalitarians are becoming truly desperate. They’ve gone “full retard,” and they know their days are drawing to a close. A reckoning is coming.

  3. Thinkthrough’s Article Is Full Of Clues..

    Explaining Trump’s Russia Taint

    Thinkthrough, our most prolific commentator, posted a link here yesterday to a four part article entitled, “The Press Versus The President” by Jeff Gerth for the Columbia Journalism Review.

    The article in question sets out to illustrate how wrong the mainstream media was sticking Donald Trump with all those Russia allegations. Yet the article contains many references to words and actions by Trump that either stoked or confirmed suspicions.

    Like these 2 paragraphs below:

    Early on a Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that his predecessor, Barack Obama, “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” before the election. The claim was quickly denied by spokespersons for Obama and the federal government, and a new line of attack against Trump was opened.

    Trump says he based his tweet on something he saw on Fox News that morning. “I was watching Bret Baier Saturday morning,” he said in an interview, referring to an episode that ran the night before, “and he had used the words spying on my campaign.” Trump thought the tweet “was innocuous” until an aide told him, “Sir, the lines are lit up.”


    These 2 paragraphs tell us all we need to know about Donald Trump. He sees something on Fox News and promptly sends an inflammatory Tweet concerning his predecessor, Barack Obama. How brainless can you get?!

    An experienced politician, worthy of the presidency, would have had that Fox News story thoroughly investigated by the most qualified officials. A president has to be certain he knows all the facts before making serious allegations about any individual or institution.

    But Donald Trump had no political experience. Trump seemed to think the presidency was just a reality show. And in reality shows you have to keep shocking the audience to keep them engaged.

    Throughout Jeff Gerth’s four part article, Donald Trump comes across as a man who keeps shooting his mouth off at inappropriate moments. It was exactly that kind of behavior that got Trump tagged as a stooge for Putin. Trump has only himself to blame.

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