- Thursday, March 31, 2022

The last few weeks have not been good for the corporate media or anyone who values the principle of free speech on social media. From Hunter Biden’s laptop to the bogus Russian dossier, to COVID-19 vaccines and transgender issues, glaring errors of journalism and stringent thought control have been proven, once again, to always flow in one direction.

The Washington Post became the latest media outlet to belatedly confirm the authenticity of Hunter’s laptop, nearly a year and a half after his emails and texts surfaced late in the 2020 presidential election. These materials had been derided by most media as “Russian disinformation” for 17 months. 

The Post story followed The New York Times, which two weeks earlier inserted its own confirmation of the laptop into the 24th paragraph of a report about the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter’s lucrative, habitual selling of access to his powerful father, now-President Joe Biden

But still unexamined by the media are the emails that link Mr. Biden to Hunter’s international business schemes.

Even so, the burst of reporting birthed a segment on CNN, previously unthinkable there, in which senior legal analyst Elie Honig intoned that the case building against Hunter represents a “very real, very substantial investigation of potentially serious federal crimes,” creating a “realistic chance this could result in federal charges.”

In the wake of this grudging journalism came news from the Federal Election Commission that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee were fined a total of $113,000 for improperly disclosing how they paid for the infamous “Steele Dossier.” The fabricated opposition research document was central to the now-discredited “Russian collusion” hoax that most media and Democrats in Congress used to undermine the first two years of former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

Silicon Valley also got in on the action, and as a consultant to GETTR, a new free speech platform, I pay close attention to what happens on social media.

Twitter reminded us that it still wields unchecked power to stifle free speech by suspending journalist John Solomon’s account for linking to his own story about a peer-reviewed COVID-19 vaccine study. 

Mr. Solomon reported on research from Sweden’s Lund University, which has worked closely with the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, examining how the Pfizer vaccine interacts with liver cells.

Despite the study’s appearance in Current Issues in Molecular Biology, a respected medical journal, Twitter ruled that Mr. Solomon had violated its policy on “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

Apparently, Twitter is now staffed by expert molecular scientists who feel empowered to invalidate complex medical research.

To this point, defenders of the social media oligarchs have claimed that they run private companies, and so can enforce whatever rules they want. But what about when the government is the entity which instigates the censorship?

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has already admitted that the Biden administration flags selected social media posts and certain accounts for Facebook, identifying them as spreaders of “COVID-19 misinformation.” It’s unknown if Mr. Solomon’s tweet was singled out by the White House, but at the very least, the executive branch’s engagement in censorial activity emboldens tech companies and is precisely the sort of overreach the First Amendment is intended to prohibit.

And Twitter has been on a suspension rampage of late, targeting conservative accounts over the alleged “misgendering” of transgender people.

The satirical website Babylon Bee, commentator Charlie Kirk and Fox News host Tucker Carlson were all locked out of their Twitter accounts for various offenses involving tweets about Rachel Levine, an official in the Biden administration who is transgender.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a congresswoman from Missouri who is running for the U.S. Senate in that state, was suspended for tweeting her television ad about University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male who has been dominating women’s collegiate swimming.

At the end of this troubling period of overdue reporting and crackdowns on free expression — all of which displayed bias against conservatives — there was at least the chance for reporters to ask the White House about the revelations contained in the president’s son’s computer.

Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield handled the White House press briefing on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, which was good timing since she had dismissed the laptop as “Russian misinformation” during the closing days of the 2020 presidential race.

Only, not a single reporter asked her about it.

But why would they? Most of them agreed with her back then and don’t want to admit their error now.

But is a tiny bit of objectivity really too much to ask?

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and the founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs, a communication consulting firm.

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