The First Law of Holes reads, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” An ally might want to remind White House Press Secretary Jen Paski of this as she desperately tries to spin her disclosure on Thursday that the administration is flagging COVID-19 “misinformation” for Facebook. She told members of the press corps:
“Those engagements [with social media companies] typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team. Given that as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation specifically on the pandemic. In terms of actions Alex that we have taken or are working to take I should say, from the federal government. We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking in the Surgeon General’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”
Before the press conference, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared health misinformation a threat to public health in a 22-page advisory. Dr. Murth signed this statement on the first page:
I am urging all Americans to help slow the spread of health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health. It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts. Limiting the spread of health misinformation is a moral and civic imperative that will require a whole-of-society effort
Page 12 outlines what technology platforms can do, and some of these actions might become problematic in lawsuits asserting that Big Tech censorship is violating Americans’ First Amendment rights:
- Assess the benefits and harms of products and platforms and take responsibility for addressing the harms.
- Give researchers access to useful data to properly analyze the spread and impact of misinformation.
- Strengthen the monitoring of misinformation.
- Prioritize early detection of misinformation “super-spreaders” and repeat offenders.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of internal policies and practices in addressing misinformation and be transparent with findings.
- Proactively address information deficits.
- Amplify communications from trusted messengers and subject matter experts.
- Prioritize protecting health professionals, journalists, and others from online harassment, including harassment resulting from people believing in misinformation.
Under each item, the advisory is asking tech companies to do particular things. This action comes on the heels of news that Biden allies are pushing cell phone companies to prevent text messages they don’t like. The drumbeat from the White House also follows over a year of censorship related to COVID-19. Any journalist, researcher, or clinician who dissents from the government health bureaucracy’s preferred talking points is relegated to only a very few media outlets and social media platforms to express their point of view.
As attorney Ron Coleman noted on Twitter, “Psaki’s statements and the surgeon general’s advisory recommendations, if acted upon, could blur the lines between Big Tech and the government. Citing a 2019 Supreme Court decision, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v Halleck, he noted the three conditions where a private entity can qualify as a state actor and be subject to First Amendment requirements”:
‘When the private entity performs a traditional, exclusive public function,’ see Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co. (1974);”
“When the government compels the private entity to take a particular action,’ see Blum v. Yaretsky, (1982); or”
“‘When the government acts jointly with the private entity.” See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co. (1982).”
Psaki today just kept digging. Clips like these could be a gift to both President Trump in his class-action suit against Big Tech and Coleman’s group in their representation of Rogan O’Handley against Twitter.
Related:BREAKING: Trump Sues Big Tech
In response to questions, Psaki said it should not surprise anyone that the administration is in touch with Big Tech. She also asserted that you should be banned from all social media platforms if you get banned from one of them for misinformation. Then in response to Peter Doocy from Fox News, Psaki also called the social media companies “public platforms.”
Only MINUTES LATER, Jen Psaki calls social media sites like Facebook "public platforms." pic.twitter.com/olva3zlSVm
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) July 16, 2021
For those intrigued by Justice Clarence Thomas’s musing about social media platforms being akin to modern common carriers, Psaki’s rambling is a gift. The entire spectacle of the last two days — rolling out the force of government over scientific inquiry and debate — is destined to backfire in more ways than just the potential legal fallout.
The administration bases the calls for censorship of dissenting points of view on the belief that it will reduce vaccine hesitancy. According to the CDC’s data, black Americans have the lowest vaccination rates. There are historical reasons for this, related to government programs where participants could not give informed consent because the government hid the purpose–like the Tuskegee experiment. On what planet do Psaki and team Biden believe hiding information contrary to their preferred narrative will make this population more willing to get vaccinated? Or anyone else who is currently nervous about the vaccine?
We have all watched Dr. Anthony Fauci flip-flop in public on any number of issues. The release of his emails did not help his credibility. The CDC’s “to mask or not to mask” drama earlier this summer was a study in absurdity. The lab-leak theory is back on the table amid what looks like a coordinated cover-up. History is also available for anyone who cares to look. Fauci’s record on HIV does not inspire confidence, and the health bureaucracy has made mistakes with deadly consequences many times in history .
Patients and their doctors have been making treatment decisions for years. And while trust in our public health agencies has decreased throughout the pandemic, people still rate their healthcare providers as highly trustworthy. In making healthcare decisions, patients are always allowed and often encouraged to get a second opinion.
For some reason, Psaki is telling us the Biden administration wants to rob you of that right when gathering information about your health. It should make everyone wonder why.