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Biden’s media intimidation crusade takes a turn for the worse
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Biden’s media intimidation crusade takes a turn for the worse

A top White House censor heads for Biden’s re-election campaign to combat “misinformation” — which is now just another word for dissenting from this administration’s bungled economic policies.

The Biden administration’s efforts to intimidate media outlets into censoring information that might paint the president in a bad light (other than his own gaffes, lies, and plagiarism) are receiving new and much-needed attention this week. The House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government reconvenes Thursday to look into “the federal government’s involvement in social media censorship” and “recent attacks on independent journalism and free expression,” according to the committee’s press release.

It is a timely investigation. As Byron York noted at the Washington Examiner, “President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign is ‘overhauling’ its strategy to fight ‘misinformation’ on social media. The new effort includes ‘recruiting hundreds of staffers and volunteers to monitor platforms.’”

The Biden team’s big current concern is the economy. Somehow, the public just isn’t getting the message that everything is hunky-dory and that Biden is the reason we’re all supposedly so much richer than we were in January 2021. Yet even voters who admit to having voted for Biden in 2020 say the economy is awful.

The new operation is reminiscent of the Biden administration’s successful efforts in 2021 to persuade media companies to suppress unpopular observations about government initiatives, especially doubts about the science behind combatting COVID-19 and concerns about interference in the 2020 election. That was, in fact, a ruthless campaign of threats and intimidation against tech companies, the legality of which the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide in its current session.

“They were bullying companies to censor anything contradicting government guidance,” the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year. “The private intimidation was amplified by public threats to use antitrust action and regulation if tech companies didn't follow orders.”

The Biden administration has continually turned up the heat on those who dare to say things that might undermine the president’s re-election prospects.

In the spring of 2022, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced he was forming a Disinformation Governance Board, which a writer at the Hill aptly described as an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” The DHS shut down the board under pressure, but its work continued in other DHS sub-agencies, including the Secret Service, the Intercept reported.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people illegally enter the country each month while Mayorkas’ vigilant border guardians keep their eyes peeled for embarrassing tweets.

The Department of Defense in May contracted with a firm owned by “a researcher who applauded Twitter for censoring stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop, to ‘proactively respond’ to international disinformation campaigns” by providing “a software tool that tracks global disinformation campaigns,” theWashington Free Beacon reported. The Pentagon also made “other controversial grants this year to organizations that support censorship of so-called disinformation,” the paper said.

The Department of Health and Human Services has created a “Surgeon General’s Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation,” which “provides specific guidance and resources for health care providers, educators, librarians, faith leaders, and trusted community members to understand, identify, and stop the spread of health misinformation in their communities.” Think of it as the first step toward a nationwide Soviet-style snitch culture for health care.

Similar efforts are under way across the federal bureaucracy. All of this came about after Biden’s campaign apparatus in 2020 successfully conspired with social media companies to spike the Hunter Biden laptop story, which a significant percentage of voters later said would have changed their decision about whether to vote for Joe Biden for president.

Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign is now conducting a similar operation, led by deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty, who ran the White House censorship squad in 2021.

Flaherty’s appointment to lead this “anti-misinformation” crusade is an obvious intimidation ploy. It sends a clear message that the Biden administration is taking names and will do all it can to punish media organizations that do not comply with the campaign team’s “requests.”

As a private effort (though subject to political campaign laws), this undertaking is legally different from the operations that took place in the White House in 2021, but it is morally just as corrupt.

The current campaign of bullying is even worse than the variations in 2020 and from 2021 to the present, because it combines the freedom of the 2020 version with the explicit power dynamic of the subsequent efforts directed by the White House. The use of benevolent-sounding words to mask this harassment and intimidation is proof that those behind it know exactly how abhorrent it is.

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S.T. Karnick

S.T. Karnick

S.T. Karnick is a senior fellow and director of publications for the Heartland Institute, where he edits Heartland Daily News and writes the Life, Liberty, Property e-newsletter.