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July 28, 2023

The White House Demanded That FaceBook Censor Posts About Vanccines and a Post by America's Most Prominent Journalist and Commentator, Tucker Carlson

There is no First Amendment. The Democrats have repealed it.

President Biden's White House aides pressured Facebook to censor a COVID-19 vaccine meme and a post by Tucker Carlson, according to files released Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee.

The world's largest social media platform pushed back and expressed concern about curbing free speech, but ultimately reduced the reach of Carlson's post by 50%, according to back-channel communications released by Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

In an April 2021 email, Nick Clegg, Facebook's president for global affairs, wrote to colleagues that Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to Biden who was steering COVID-19 policy, "was outraged -- not too strong a word to describe his reaction -- that [Facebook] did not remove this post."

The post was a meme shared by a user named Timothy McComas that featured actor Leonardo DiCaprio's character from the film "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" pointing at his TV with a beer and cigarette in hand.

The image was captioned: "10 years from now you will be watching TV and hear.... 'Did you or a loved one take the covid vaccine? You may be entitled...'"

Clegg wrote that he "countered that removing content like that would represent a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression in the US," but failed to persuade Slavitt, who noted it had been shared 385,000 times.

The White House official "replied that the post was directly comparing Covid vaccines to asbestos poisoning in a way which demonstrably inhibits confidence in Covid vaccines amongst those the Biden Administration is trying to reach," in Clegg's words.


That same month, a Facebook employee whose name was not released by Jordan wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg: "We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the [Biden] White House" to remove posts criticizing COVID-19 vaccines.

"Stakeholders." The Democrat White House has "stakeholder" rights to determine which Americans may speak and which may not.

Jordan wrote that the company "panicked" and agreed to take some action.

Facebook vice president for public policy Brian Rice wrote the same month that Slavitt's pressure seemed "very much like a crossroads for us with the [Biden] White House in these early days."

"Given what is at stake here, it would also be a good idea if we could regroup and take stock of where we are in our relations with the [White House], and our internal methods too,"
an unidentified Facebook employee replied, signing "N" -- seeming to indicate the writer was Clegg.


The pressure continued to mount on Facebook to remove posts after April 2021 -- with Biden saying that July that social media networks were "killing people" by allowing alleged misinformation to circulate.

An internal Aug. 2, 2021, Facebook email said the company's leadership "asked Misinfo Policy ... to brainstorm some additional policy levers we can pull to be more aggressive against ... misinformation. This is stemming from the continued criticism of our approach from the [Biden] administration."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the Biden administration's actions Thursday, saying "we have promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections."


Sauer[a state AG pressing the lawsuit against the Biden Administration] said evidence indicates that Flaherty led the pressure campaign and that "virtually everything that I can recall here was lawful First Amendment-protected speech that was being targeted."

"The characterization of them as suggestions is contradicted by overwhelming evidence," Sauer said. "To call Mr. Flaherty's communication 'suggestions' is akin to saying that the Earth is flat or the moon is made of green cheese."

Just jawboning, noted Regime Cvck David French says. The government has free speech rights that trump citizen rights to free speech, even though citizens' rights to free speech are protected by the First Amendment and government's "free speech rights" are not mentioned at all.

This explains David French's shift: An overwhelming majority of his fellow Democrats now say that the government should punish free speech that goes against the religious dogmas of the Democrat Church of Satan.

Democrats now say, by a 2 1/2 to 1 ratio, that the government should censor speech the left disapproves of rather than uphold the right to free speech.

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got 'em: A poll released this week by the Pew Research Center has starkly revealed the dark oppressive mentality that now dominates supporters of the Democratic Party, and makes possible the enthusiasm for blacklisting and censorship by its leadership.

The graph to the right shows the big take-away from the poll, as indicated by the arrows and the red box. Democrats now favor censorship by 70 to 28 percent, a major rise since 2018, when their attitude towards free speech was almost identical to Republicans. Since then, while Republican support for the First Amendment and freedom has remained largely stable and strong, Democrats have almost entirely abandoned these American ideals. As Pew notes:

There was virtually no difference between the parties in 2018, but the share of Democrats who support government intervention has grown from 40% in 2018 to 70% in 2023, while the share of Republicans who hold this view hasn't changed much.

There is a similar gap between the shares of Democrats and Republicans who say technology companies should restrict false information online. A large majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (81%) support technology companies taking such steps, while about half of Republicans (48%) say the same. The share of Democrats who support technology companies taking these steps has also increased steadily since 2018.

These partisan gaps persist when it comes to restricting extremely violent content online. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that the U.S. government (71% vs. 48%, respectively) and tech companies (83% vs. 61%) should take steps to restrict violent content online even if it limits freedom of information.


Related: Mark Hemingway writes about his own experience with censorship -- specifically, the FaceBook funded censorship company "NewsGuard" which demands conservatives censor their reportage and commentary, or else face blackouts and "throttling" by Facebook.

NewsGuard decided to "fact-check" the Federalist's statement that "The IRS is hiring an army of new agents to audit citizens."

Well, how big is an "army"?, NewsGuard's censor wanted to know, quibbling over what number of new agents would factually constitute an "army," as opposed, I guess, to a "division" or "brigade."

In America, we have the First Amendment and have long prided ourselves on having a free press, but the reality is that it's becoming harder and harder to exist as an independent publication on the internet. One major reason for this is that lots of bad actors are trying to weaponize concerns over "misinformation." While misinformation is a problem, in practice the attempts to police it are often wholly incompetent and even more damaging than the alleged misinformation being addressed. Above all else the goal is to keep people from saying things that undermine the authority of America's obviously foundering left-leaning institutions.

Anyway, The Federalist recently got an email from "NewsGuard Technologies" -- a relatively new service that's popped up in the last few years that purports to rate websites on their credibility based on some established criteria. It then sells its ratings services to schools, various corporate entities, and advertisers looking for someone to tell them what news outlets they can supposedly trust or what websites they don't want to advertise on for fear of damaging their brand.

So how does NewsGuard go about making those ratings for websites? Well, it starts with firing off a series of hostile questions to the editors of a website about weirdly specific aspects of its coverage and demands you answer them in a vain attempt to improve whatever rating NewsGuard's going to give you. Now it's bad enough that this is an extortion racket, but it's downright insulting to see NewsGuard's team wheel around a website that publishes over a million words a year, cherry-pick some example of what they think is problematic coverage, and still demonstrate an inability to think critically or fairly about what they're reading. If it questions a dominant narrative, it does not compute with these people. Anyway, let's take a look at what we're dealing with.

My name is Chiara Vercellone and I'm an analyst at NewsGuard Technologies, a service that reviews news and information websites based on a set of credibility criteria, and monitors misinformation trends online.

I am reaching out because we are in the process of updating our analysis of and I have a few questions about the content published on the site. I am also attaching our currently-published analysis of The Federalist for your reference.

Just for reference, Vercellone apparently has a graduate degree in journalism from Northwestern, which generally vies with Columbia for the best journalism program in the country. Previously, she worked as a "fact checker" for USA Today. I used to work at a publication that, like USA Today, was also a participant in Facebook's fact-checking program. Facebook funds the fact-checking programs at these publications, even though these same publications are often required to cover Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg objectively in their news pages despite being financially compromised by this.

Facebook/Meta then brags that when a "fact checker" it helps pay for rates a story as false, it uses that rating to downrank and kill 80 percent of the internet traffic to that story. That's what it says in its own corporate communications. Given how often we've seen Facebook-funded fact-checkers produce politically distorted nonsense, the power given to these people ought to be alarming.

Vercellone and everyone else involved in these rackets have convinced themselves they're performing a valuable public service fighting "misinformation" that nearly always conveniently aligns with ideological priors, but I'm not sure they've had anyone be blunt: Between her time as a "fact checker" and her new gig at NewsGuard, Vercellone is a censor pure and simple. The business model she's participating in is to make a profit by narrowing the range of acceptable opinions.

Anyway, keep all that in mind when we delve into the quality of analysis that she expects The Federalist to respond to. She gets right into it.

For instance, we recently found some articles that further false or misleading information. For example, this article repeated claims that the IRS was hiring "a new army of IRS agents that will be used to audit middle-class Americans." However, the Inflation Reduction Act roughly allocated $80 billion to the IRS over 10 years, and most of the new hires would fill customer service and technology roles -- not IRS agent positions.

OK, so the Inflation Reduction Act allocated $80 billion to the IRS, and $45 billion of that was specifically allocated for tax enforcement, including "litigation," "criminal investigations," "investigative technology," and "digital asset monitoring." The IRS has pledged to use that money to hire 87,000 new people. Most of the money is going to tax enforcement, so why wouldn't most of the hires being made be related to tax enforcement in some way? Is it just that we're hung up on the precise definition of "agent" in this context? Fine, we'll assume the IRS is going to hire some agents specifically for auditing. What number specifically constitutes an "army," which last I checked, does not have a precise numerical definition?

Let's say they hire 10,000 agents for auditing and the remaining 77,000 are IT and answering phones. Well, 10,000 people is enough for an infantry division ... is that comparable to an "army"? It's even dumber than that sounds because the original Federalist article NewsGuard is singling out specifically linked to another article about how the IRS is currently advertising for jobs that require IRS agents to be "[carrying] a firearm and [being] willing to use deadly force, if necessary" when it referenced an "army" of IRS agents. The IRS currently employs more than 2,000 people that carry firearms. Is that an "army"? By the way, there are more armed federal bureaucrats now than U.S. Marines -- is THAT fair to compare to an army? Or is NewsGuard engaged in a really stupid semantic debate?

What happened was this: Republicans were opposed to Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act, and one of the criticisms they leveled was against its provision beefing up tax enforcement, which is politically unpopular. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy went out and said, "Democrats in Washington plan to hire an army of 87,000 IRS agents so they can audit more Americans like you." Fearing that this criticism might resonate with the public, "fact checkers" immediately sprung into action and tried to establish a counter-narrative quibbling with McCarthy's use of the word "agents." (See here, here, here, here, etc.) Note that The Federalist article being singled out by NewsGuard did not specify how many agents were being hired or make a specific numerical claim related to the bill like McCarthy did. It just said that an "army" of agents was being hired.

The Democrats launched an information operation to attack criticism of Biden's expansion of the IRS, and so the "fact-checkers" set about to forcing conservative websites to also participate in this information operation.

And remember, NewsGuard is funded by FaceBook to satisfy White House, DOJ, FBI, etc. demands that they be "responsible" in what speech they allow and forbid.

More about this ordeal of "non-partisan fact-checking" at the link.

digg this
posted by Ace at 02:00 PM

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