This got buried in the national media a little yesterday because of the Thing’s Speech and the buildup to it, but in light of that low moment in American history it’s even more relevant. Because after all, while Joe Biden bathed himself in a satanic red light and delivered a 24-minute harangue against his political enemies, accusing “MAGA Republicans” of hating the Constitution and the rule of law and everything else nice about America, we just found out that his administration is the most vicious enemy of the First Amendment of any in our history.
Specifically, that thanks to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, we now know that the Biden White House colluded with social media platforms to conduct direct censorship of Americans attempting to discuss COVID-19 and the policies and actions surrounding it. And the actions of those platforms to trash the accounts and posts of people dissenting from the government’s narratives, in the name of fighting “disinformation,” were taken under orders from the government.
This is a direct violation of the First Amendment, folks. Can’t get any more bright-line than this.
When Facebook does it you can make the argument that they’re a private company and they’ve got the right to decide what appears on their servers – though if you make that argument, you’re consigning Facebook to the status of a publisher and not a platform, and that has very specific legal consequences.
But while that’s an issue unto itself, this is far worse. This is the federal government directing Facebook and others to delete and ban speech it doesn’t like.
Missouri and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in May filed a lawsuit that sought to “expose how top Biden Administration officials allegedly colluded with social media companies to censor freedom of speech on a number of topics, including COVID-19,” Schmitt’s announcement read. After Schmitt won the lawsuit in July, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was forced to reveal to the plaintiff in total 88 communications between the Biden administration and social media companies that show how the Biden administration and big tech worked together to “censor freedom of speech.”
“In response to Missouri and Louisiana’s interrogatories, defendants identified 45 federal officials at DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General (all of which are contained in either DHS or HHS) that communicate with social media platforms about “misinformation” and censorship,” Schmitt wrote. “Beyond DOJ, Meta identified 32 additional federal officials including White House Officials who communicated with them, and YouTube identified 11 federal officials including White House Officials who communicated with them, many of whom were not disclosed by DOJ.”
The same senior official sent a later email to HHS and noted, "Thanks again for taking the time to meet earlier today." Then, the official continued to discuss how Facebook is taking even more steps to censor freedom of speech https://t.co/gYz2RtXlNF pic.twitter.com/c9FqgKVtBe
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) September 1, 2022
Landry’s press release on the subject promises even more to come…
Yesterday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a Joint Statement on Discovery Disputes, asking a federal court in the Western District of Louisiana to compel the Department of Justice to turn over communications between high-ranking Biden Administration officials from the White House, Department of State, FBI, and others and major social media companies.
The filing is a result of a landmark lawsuit filed by the two states in May. In July, the Court required the Biden Administration to turn over communications between federal officials and social media companies. The Department of Justice has already turned over communications between a number of federal officials and social media companies but has refused to provide communications between top-ranking officials and social media companies.
“When the federal government colludes with Big Tech to censor speech, the American people become subjects rather than citizens,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry. “The USDOJ must not be allowed to hide behind the vail of executive privilege, especially when there is already compelling evidence that the people’s government colluded with these social media companies to suppress their right of free speech.”
“Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit back in May that seeks to expose how top Biden Administration officials allegedly colluded with social media companies to censor freedom of speech on a number of topics, including COVID-19. We won in court in July, and the Court required the Biden Administration to turn over communications between federal officials and social media companies,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “We have already received a number of documents that clearly prove that the federal government has an incestuous relationship with social media companies and clearly coordinate to censor freedom of speech, but we’re not done. The Department of Justice is cowering behind executive privilege and has refused to turn over communications between the highest-ranking Biden Administration officials and social media companies. That’s why, yesterday, we asked the Court to compel the Department of Justice to produce those records. We’re just getting started – stay tuned.”
The communications already provided by the Department of Justice to the plaintiff states show a vast “Censorship Enterprise” across a multitude of federal agencies. In response to discovery, the defendants identified 45 federal officials at DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General (all of which are contained in either DHS or HHS) that communicate with social media platforms about “misinformation” and censorship. The joint statement points out, “But in these responses, Defendants did not provide information about other federal officials at other federal agencies of whom they are aware who engage in such communications with social-media platforms about misinformation and censorship. Defendants’ document production, however, revealed that such officials at other federal agencies exist—for example, they include extensive copying of officials at the Census Bureau, and they also include communications suggesting that the Departments of Treasury and State may be involved as well.”
Beyond the Department of Justice’s production, “Meta identified 32 federal officials—including senior officials at the FDA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the White House— have communicated with Meta about content moderation on its platforms, many of whom were not disclosed in response to Plaintiffs’ interrogatories to Defendants. YouTube disclosed an additional eleven officials, including officials at the Census Bureau and the White House, many of whom were also not disclosed by Defendants.”
“The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General,” the joint statement continues. “And evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. And it rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials. Defendants have objected to producing some of the most relevant and probative information in their possession.”
This “Censorship Enterprise” is proven by the Department of Justice’s productions thus far, but the full extent of federal officials’ collusion with social media companies on censorship is unknown until the Department of Justice produces further communications requested by Louisiana and Missouri.
A senior Facebook official sent an email to the Surgeon General stating, “I know our teams met today to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.” This email chain follows the SG’s “misinformation health advisory” in July 2021: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/hhs-fb-email-1.pdf?sfvrsn=53bc4454_2
The same senior official sent a later email to HHS and noted, “Thanks again for taking the time to meet earlier today.” Then, the official continued to discuss how Facebook is taking even more steps to censor freedom of speech: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/hhs-fb-exhibit.pdf?sfvrsn=55bd83df_2
Twitter scheduled a meeting to debrief top White House Officials on “vaccine misinformation.”: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/twitter-vaccine-meeting-wh.pdf?sfvrsn=6599e359_2b
There are several instances where Facebook wouldn’t proceed with censoring freedom of speech on their platform until they had input, or a “debunking” from the CDC. Twitter followed the same course in at least one email.
The CDC also proposed a monthly debunking meeting with Facebook to help them censor free speech as well (https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/cdc-fb-monthly-debunk.pdf?sfvrsn=3508a21f_2) as regular “Be on the Lookout” calls with major social media outlets: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/cdc-bolo-meeting.pdf?sfvrsn=9a060658_2
A White House official was even concerned about parody Fauci accounts and coordinated with FB to take them down: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/fake-fauci.pdf?sfvrsn=a9d8f2bf_2
This isn’t acceptable and it looks like it’s going to get worse as more comes out.
But Joe Biden said last night that it’s MAGA/revivalist Republicans who don’t respect the constitution or the rule of law. He said that after his administration and his party trashed the education of a whole generation of school kids with COVID alarmism not based in science and for no reason, and after they’ve promoted and mandated vaccines that don’t work, and after they’ve destroyed thousands and thousands of small businesses with COVID lockdowns.
He’s responsible for all this, and he’s trashed the First Amendment in an effort to stifle dissent and a real conversation about the government’s stupid and destructive COVID response. And yet it’s you who’s the threat to our democracy.