How Insidious, Particular U.S. Corporate Media Censorship Threatens Free Speech

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The television’s put a thought inside your head
Like a Barry Manilow jingle
I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
A symphonic blank stare, yeah
It doesn’t make you care
Not designed to make you care
They’re betting you won’t care…


We are the whore
Intellectually spayed
We are the queer
Dysfunctionally raised

— NOFX, “The Decline”

One of the central lessons of the Twittergate Laptop From Hell saga is that chasing down the specter of state-directed censorship in the United States is an uphill struggle. It requires painstakingly connecting dots between private sector and public sector actors, who often collude in the dark.

You can read about the Twitter Files and what they revealed in greater depth in a previous article on the topic. But the short version is that the permanent bureaucracy (the so-called Deep State) that persists from administration to administration, regardless of which party is in power, inserted its own people into Twitter to conduct censorship from inside. Most notably, among Deep State implants at Twitter was former FBI chief lawyer Jim Baker.

This enabled plausible deniability — after all, Jim Baker had left his official role as a Deep State lawyer. He now acted, ostensibly, in a private capacity. Twitter, a private company, was made to appear to direct its own censorship campaigns independent of the state.

Related: Senator Throws Hissy Fit, Threatens to Use Congress Against Elon Musk Over Twitter Spat

The only problem is that every reasonable person, if provided sufficient context and evidence, can figure out the shell game being played. Hence the onslaught of condemnation for journalist Matt Taibbi for doing what journalists are supposed to do: exposing the nefarious goings-on in one of the most powerful media companies in the world.


As if Twitter hasn’t been used as a propaganda platform for the most powerful entities on Earth for years with impunity — all while hiding behind legal protections intended for utilities like phone companies by pretending not to function as a publisher (which Twitter does when it selectively throttles news stories based on political pressure). MSNBC creatures like censorship czar Ben Collins intentionally invert the reality.

No one has to tell journalists who have been in the game long enough, like Taibbi, that publishing the Twitter Files is verboten. Everyone implicitly understands the rules of the road. Taibbi, once embraced by the establishment left, has now burned his bridges to the power structure. He will never work for The New York Times or Rolling Stone again.

Because Twitter’s internal files are beyond the reach of FOIA requests, we would have never known of the extent to which the Deep State influenced Twitter’s censorship policies if not for an oligarch who spent $40 billion to unlock the vault. If not for Musk, who then passed on the intelligence to a high-profile journalist with the integrity to move forward with the reporting (a rare breed in the current dystopia), the truth would have remained obscured in the bowels of Twitter.


Twitter Files-esque censorship, without a doubt, occurs on every other major social media platform. Mark Zuckerberg, Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO, admitted that Facebook also censored the Laptop From Hell story due to pressure from the FBI, a law enforcement agency acting as a political lobby.

This is why the U.S. brand of censorship is so insidious: Because of the First Amendment and the vestiges of a functional legal system, it’s not (yet) possible for the state to direct censorship out in the open as it is in China or North Korea or any number of countries.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free,” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said.

By outsourcing censorship to ostensibly private entities, the government maintains the façade of freedom of the press while achieving effectively the same results as more nakedly authoritarian governments. Arguably, the outsourcing is even advantageous to the state, as it can maintain its fiction of moral virtue as a “democracy.”



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