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House Republicans Use Covid Response Hearing To Outline Biden Online Censorship Collusion

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In a congressional hearing, where the spotlight was on the US government’s strategies against COVID-19, House Republicans shifted the focus towards an allegation that the Biden administration violated the First Amendment. The argument was that the administration employed undue influence on Big Tech companies, nudging them to censor social media posts, especially regarding COVID-19 discussions.

The hearing, which took place on Wednesday, was orchestrated by Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), the chairman of the House’s select subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic. Wenstrup accentuated the need for a congressional counter-action against what he suggested was arm-twisting of Big Tech by the Biden administration to censor speech.

The hearing provided a platform for Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who is jointly pursuing a federal lawsuit with his counterpart from Louisiana. The lawsuit aims to preclude the Biden administration from collaborating with tech behemoths like Google and Meta in regulating speech on social media.

Bailey exposed the censorship of dissenting Covid opinions that were presented as evidence in Missouri’s lawsuit against the Biden Administration: “There was an active suppression campaign as detailed in email exchanges between, at a minimum, the White House and big tech social media corporations from March to May of 2021, as recited by one of the other members and offered as evidence in our suit that demonstrate that the target of the suppression was anyone that questioned the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

Bailey talked about how the Biden administration exported its censorship demands to third parties: “The federal government itself recognizes the legal problems with its actions. In an attempt to make it harder to detect their blatant legal violation, officials have begun outsourcing their censorship activities to pseudo-private organizations. Emails obtained revealed that officials believe this structure will help them evade liability under the First Amendment. But any federal attempt to censor speech is still unconstitutional. The government cannot do by indirect means what it would be prohibited from doing directly.”

Chairman Wenstrup talked about the allegedly unconstitutional efforts by the Biden Administration to collude with social media companies to censor Americans.

Chairman Wenstrup: “Did the Biden White House attempt to strong-arm big tech companies to censor free speech?”

Bailey: “Unequivocally, yes. It’s in times of national emergency when we must be most vigilant to protect our fundamental rights, the rights given to us by God and codified, enshrined in the United States Constitution. And contrary to that principle, the Biden Administration coerced and colluded with big tech social media to silence American voices in relation to the pandemic.”

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko read aloud some emails from the White House that were sent to social media companies demanding censorship.

The backdrop to this lawsuit is the ongoing ideological tussle over the authority to control what is and isn’t acceptable in the online social media domain. As platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter increasingly clamp down on content considered offensive or “misinformation,” there has been much pushback.

The lawsuit, Missouri v. Biden, spearheaded by the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, posits that the Biden administration could have pressured Big Tech into stifling dissent on various topics, including COVID-19 and elections.

The case is currently before a judge.

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