In a column on a Senate committee hearing last fall featuring prominent physicians and scientists discussing alternative treatments for COVID-19, the New York Times dubbed Chairman Ron Johnson and his invited guests as “the snake-oil salesmen of the Senate.”
Google-owned YouTube later banned a video of the hearing as “misinformation” and suspended the senator’s account twice, both times for discussing COVID treatment options that studies and physicians around the world have found to be safe and effective.
The Wisconsin Republican said Tuesday in a virtual media event that with the Democrats in power, little can be done in Congress at the moment to curb the power of Big Tech. But “in the end it’s going to be the private sector” and alternative sites such as Rumble that produce changes.
“We as conservatives need to stop patronizing these liberal, leftist … social media sites,” he said during the online forum, which was hosted by the Media Research Center.
Brent Bozell, MRC’s founder and CEO, believes conservatives should indeed patronize new social media platforms, but he insists the old ones should not be abandoned.
He noted that Facebook has some 2.7 billion users, and “the censorship is taking place worldwide.”
“I don’t want to leave the field, to have 2.7 billion people indoctrinated by the left,” he said.
Bozell cited a recent study by MRC that found 54 instances of censorship against Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill and only one against Democrats.
“I believe that this is serious enough that … democracy is threatened,” he said.
“If the public can’t have its say in the public square, you can’t expect to have a free and fair election.”
Bozell noted an MRC poll of 2020 voters conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found that if the social media giants had not censored the Hunter Biden laptop story – which was about Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s sale of his influence – President Trump would have won reelection.
Big Tech, he warned, can prevent Republicans from regaining the House and Senate in 2022, despite the Biden administration’s plummeting approval.
“They have power to prevent the Republicans from taking power in a free and fair election,” he said of the social media giants.
“It has to be a top-shelf priority of the conservative movement to make sure the next elections are free and fair,” Bozell said.
The COVID gods
Johnson said he began experiencing social-media censorship when he investigated the Hillary Clinton email scandal as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee. Of late, the blocking of information has centered on COVID-19, including the treatment of the disease with repurposed drugs that have been shown to be safe and effective.
Among the “snake-oil salesmen” smeared by the New York Times for simply talking about COVID treatments, he pointed out, was Dr. Harvey Risch, a professor of epidemiology at the the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine.
Many lives could have been saved, he believes, if the internet had been a free forum for discussing life-saving treatments.
Now, he said, touting the long-held view that a virus infection produces natural immunity is getting users banned.
Meanwhile, the 16,000 deaths and 750,00 events reported on the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, or VAERS, is being censored.
“For some reason, the COVID gods want a vaccine in every arm,” he said Tuesday.
‘Surgically address’ censorship
Johnson was joined by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., who pointed out that Twitter banned a former president while allowing the Taliban and Iran’s leaders to use their platform.
Steube is sponsoring a bill he says would “surgically address” censorship in a way that would not eliminate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants legal immunity to social media sites as neutral channels of information rather than editors.
He said he disagrees with President Trump’s proposal to eliminate Section 230 altogether, arguing that would harm new sites promoting free speech such as Parler and Rumble.
Steube’s bill, Curbing Abuse and Saving Expression In Technology Act, or the CASE-IT Act, leaves the primary language of Section 230 intact but distinguishes between “Big Tech” and “Small Tech” by employing a market dominance test.
It makes Section 230 immunity conditional for market-dominant Big Tech companies. To receive government protection, the platforms would be required to adhere to a First Amendment standard for their content moderation practices.
The law would enable victims of censorship to file lawsuits against Google, Twitter, Facebook and others.
The Florida congressman said that if his bill had become law before the 2020 election, the New York Post would have had cause to sue Twitter over its censorship of the Hunter Biden story.
“I think you would see their behavior change very rapidly,” he said.
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