George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said that social media companies apparently served as surrogate censors for the Biden administration during a Monday Fox News appearance.
A federal judge ruled Friday that a number of officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Andrew Slavitt, a senior COVID advisor, will have to sit for depositions in a court case over social media censorship. Schmitt and Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana sued the Biden administration and social media companies on May 5 over allegations that government officials were coordinating efforts to suppress debate on multiple issues, including the pandemic and the 2020 election.
“They may indeed have a case. We have had new evidence released that seemed to confirm what many of us have been writing about for years,” Turley said. “The concern for free speech advocates is that there is a type of censorship by surrogate, that Democratic leaders and other groups have used social media to silence opposing voices, and a number of people who’ve been banned on social media or had tweets taken down that have been proven correct.”
“Some of those questioned the use of surgical masks and whether they were really effective. It turns out that their concerns were well placed,” Turley continued. “Others raised the lab theory as the origin of the virus, that’s now being treated as possible, even plausible, in some cases. Some people think likely. But all of these views were silenced. Now, what we’ve learned is there was a back channel to companies like Facebook and Twitter coming from agencies and they were sort of dropping the dime on people that they wanted to silence.”
Turley explained how the communications between government officials and social media companies had First Amendment implications.
“The government is not allowed to do indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly, so if it’s using surrogates like Twitter to, for a global censorship program, it could run afoul of the Constitution,” Turley said.
“The Twitter CEO said we’re past the issue of who should speak, what we’re really focused on is who should be heard. That’s the attitude, that’s the corporate censorship culture that has taken over Twitter,” Turley added later. “That’s why they’re apoplectic at [Tesla CEO Elon] Musk taking over and reintroducing free speech protections, it’s because a major social media company might actually reintroduce free speech.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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