This piece originally appeared on my non-fiction blog, FJY.US . It deals with what is the biggest threat facing America today, and may be the most significant piece I’ve ever written. I am re-posting it here since it goes to the heart of freedom of expression and how it is threatened in unprecedented ways.
Democracy dies in darkness. If you care at all about the very survival of American democracy, you should be absolutely terrified of what is happening right now with the cold-blooded and utterly partisan repression of information being perpetrated by the social media giants, bolstered by the mainstream media. Unprecedented in the nation’s history – in the world’s history – it is not government carrying out this bald-faced censorship, but private enterprises, arguably the most powerful corporations on the face of the earth.
This frightening trend toward non-governmental repression, whether it is from the social media giants, cancel culture, or militant forces on the left such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, was the subject of my recent posting on Banned Books Week: Canceling of Thought in 2020 America on my Stoned Cherry blog. In just two weeks, its prescience has come to the fore in what I would assess to be the single biggest threat facing our democracy.
When the New York Post broke the story confirming what many of us have long suspected, tthat former Vice President Joe Biden had used his official position to favor the business and financial fortunes of his son, Hunter, and, worse, may have himself gained vast financial benefit, not just in Ukraine but in China, the social media giants Twitter and Facebook immediately shut down the story. They then went even further, and blocked any attempts to repeat the story, such as through retweets, and even shut down the accounts of the Post itself and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The mainstream media, in lockstep, hardly even mentioned, or downplayed, what the Post reported, and Biden and his campaign have been virtually silent on the story, and has not been pressed on it. You can be excused if you feel you’re in Belarus, Russia, China, or even North Korea, and not in the United States of America, with the concerted attempt to keep the public from even knowing about this story.
What we are witnessing is the utter crushing of the free flow of information in this country, and it is coming from private, but extraordinarily powerful, actors. And it is coming entirely from one side of the political spectrum. This is something I have been warning about on this blog for years now, but it has now reached a critical state.
Keep in mind that the Post is not some frivolous journal. Depending on the method and time of calculating circulation, its readership ranks anywhere from No. 1 to No. 6founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, it is the oldest continually published newspaper in the country. Despite allowing dubious stories negative about President Trump to appear and remain on their platforms, including stories based on anonymous sources and illegally obtained (and never verified) information, Twitter and Facebook justified their actions based on these very grounds, as well as the untrue grounds that the Post‘s information had been “hacked.”
This piece isn’t intended to deal in detail with what the Post found and reported about the senior Biden’s involvement in furthering his son’s business dealings, but rather with the egregious repression of the information to keep it from reaching the voting public. I’d direct you — and strongly urge you – to read the actual stories (we, not being Twitter or Facebook, are happy to be a medium for the free flow of information), which, if accurate, confirm in detail what I previously opined about Biden’s abuse of his office while he was Vice President in the Obama Administration:
The Post stories
In brief, the stories report what some 40,000 emails – as well as thousands of texts, videos, and photos, some showing Hunter in “very compromising positions,” including having sex with an unidentified woman while smoking crack cocaine – to and from Hunter Biden reveal about his personal life, business dealings, and the leveraging of his father’s position to further his business interests and prodigious income, both in Ukraine and China. The emails were on a water-damaged laptop left in April 2019 with a computer repair shop in Delaware, and which was never picked up. While the shop owner couldn’t identify the customer as Hunter Biden, the laptop bore a sticker of the Beau Biden Foundation, named after Hunter’s late brother, and the email address was that of Hunter Biden at that time.
The shop owner, after numerous unsuccessful attempts at contacting the customer, eventually informed the FBI of its existence, and the agency seized the laptop in December. Meanwhile, the shop owner had made a copy of the hard drive, which he turned over to Robert Costello, attorney for Trump legal advisor Rudy Giuliani. In due course, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon informed the Post about the emails, and on Sunday Giuliani turned the drive copy over to the Post.
While it is true that the authenticity of the emails has not been confirmed, the Biden campaign initially did not deny their existence or authenticity, pointing only to the action by the social media platforms to block stories concerning them as “proof” they weren’t true. Subsequently, the campaign painted them as promoting some sort of “conspiracy theory.” The Democratic smear campaign went into full “Russia conspiracy” mode, with California Rep. Adam Schiff, Liar-in-Chief in the Congress, hauling out that now long-debunked theory to attempt to delegitimize the emails. That there are people foolish enough to continue to believe that sort of nonsense is indicative of the deliberate failure of the media to propagate truthful information in this country.
As further confirmation of the clear media bias that has taken hold, moderator George Stephanopoulis did not ask Joe Biden a single question about the Post reports during Thursday night’s townhall on ABC, and neither did any of the voters posting their softball questions. How this is not considered journalistic malpractice eludes me. Meanwhile, on NBC, moderator Savannah Guthrie, sounding more like a petulant high school girl than a professional journalist, hurled accusatory statements (often inaccurate) at President Trump who, to his credit, responded to them, and the often challenging questions put to him by voters, with grace and directness. Given that NBC came under attacks both from without and within even for hosting the townhall with Trump, can there be any residual doubt that there is almost no fairness or honesty left in the mass media?
There are so many things wrong with this whole state of affairs it leaves one grasping for what to include and what to leave out, so as not to confuse the issue or wind up going on for thousands of words on the topic. With some 20 million people reported to have already voted in this critically important election, how can it be considered a democratic process when virtually all the powerful levers of information are working to suppress reports that, in earlier times, would have been considered crucial to determining the outcome of an election?
Applying the Twitter standard used to suppress the Post stories, the American public would not have known about the Pentagon Papers (hacked), COINTELPRO (stolen), Watergate (unidentified sources), or the revelations of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks (hacked and unidentified soures), or Edward Snowdon (also hacked and unidentified sources). Would America be a different country today were those revelations suppressed? Undoubtedly. Would it be a better country? I doubt many would even attempt to make that argument. Further underscoring the issue, news of the trial of Assange has been largely ignored in the same media that relies on the First Amendment to defend its egregious actions, posing a further threat to freedom of expression, even more under attack in the U.K. than in the U.S.
There are some efforts going on to bring the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, all tech giants, to heel before things go further down the rat hole of Chinese-style repression. Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley have called for a subpoena to haul Twitter CEO Jack Dempsey to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 23, and Hawley – a key advocate for limiting the power of social media to suppress ideas they don’t like – is calling for the Committee to subpoena Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Hawley also has joined senators Marco Rubio, Kelly Loefler, and Kevin Cramer in seeking a clarification of the Section 230 rules which protect platforms from civil liability when third parties post false or misleading information. The argument is that the platforms are abusing the special protection Section 230 gives them and, if they are going to censor third-party posts, then they should be subject to the same liability as any media source not given such protection.
Additionally, the RNC has filed a complaint against Twitter with the Federal Elections Commission, alleging that its censorship of the Post stories amounts to an illegal campaign contribution to the Biden campaign.
I would contend that the time for hearings and testimony has past, and it’s time for action. In any event, note that all the concerns are being raised by Republicans. If you think the Democrats are concerned about protecting free speech, you would be seriously mistaken. When they have the weight of what amounts to state media on their side, they remain unmysteriously silent. Partisanship and the pursuit of power supersedes basic American and human rights, as far as they’re concerned. In the one-party Democratic state of California, for instance, an Orwellian-style “Ministry of Truth” has been proposed to seek out and block what it determines to be “fake news,” and a similar measure has been introduced by a Dem in Congress. They see themselves as the arbiters of what is “truth,” and the less you know about what is really going on, the better for them, they reason. But is that better for you?
How would you feel to learn that Joe Biden used his influence and public funds to have a Ukrainian prosecutor, who was investigating the company on whose board his son served, fired? Or that he lied to you about not meeting with a top executive of that same company? Or that he sold out American interests to companies and institutions controlled by the Chinese Communist Party to benefit his son, and very possibly himself? Who, you might wonder, is the “big guy” referred to in one of the reputed Hunter emails, promised a carve out of 10% of a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars with China’s largest private energy company? Might it be Papa Joe himself? And have you ever wondered how Biden got as wealthy as he is, living off his government salary for 47 years?
Read the Post stories and see what you think.
If it’s up to Big Tech, the majority in the mass media, and the Democratic Party, you won’t ever find out answers to these, and many other, questions. And you should be very terrified, indeed. Democracy dies in darkness, and night is closing in all around us.
Featured image: Candle in Darkness, Rahul, Pexels. Used with permission.