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FLOWERS: Musk’s Twitter Stock Stake Brings Hope Censorship Will End

“Elon’s coming, You can tweet, girl

Elon’s coming, You can tweet, girl

Girl, Elon’s a coming no need to hide

Girl, Elon’s a coming no need to hide

Girl, Elon’s coming, Trump might tweet too…”

I’ve been singing this to the tune of “Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night ever since I heard the Tesla founder just bought a sizeable stake in Twitter. It’s not that I think things are going to change overnight, or that President Donald Trump will be gracing us anytime soon with midnight commentaries from the golden bidet.

However, the fact that an accomplished capitalist has decided to look in the face of censorship–and call it what it is–fills me with a hope I haven’t felt since the initial days of the Black Lives Matter riots. I suppose I should call them protests, because “riot” was one of the words that used to get you banned from social media platforms back when Orwell was just an old, dead White guy with no current relevance.

But, Elon’s coming, and with him the possibility that people will actually be able to express themselves without fear of using the wrong word, an improvident letter, an offensive pronoun. Musk may not be the sort of change agent we need in these censored times, but he’s a start.

The thing that seemed to push him over the edge into action was Twitter’s decision to suspend the satirical site, Babylon Bee, because it had the audacity to point out the fact that Rachel Levine is a biological male. Yes, she is a trans woman who spent the vast majority of her life as a man. Yes, she was praised by USA Today as one of its “Women of the Year,” (Unlike Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newspaper can at least propose one definition of the term.) And yes, it’s not nice to make fun of people.

But, um, that’s what satire is, and really good satire can sting. The Babylon Bee has an exquisite sting (hence the name), and there are many of us who need our daily dose of what I like to call “uncommon nonsense” from some of the best writers in the business. Its sharp, perceptive, sometimes cruel but always entertaining, and intelligent commentary is water in the ideological desert, at least for thirsty conservatives.

Twitter, however, wasn’t amused. When Elon Musk saw this technological megalith was selectively silencing people who violated the accepted standards of woke virtue and secular sacrament, he did what any good entrepreneur would do: he bought himself some power. I love the fact that, in this case, money really did talk. Or rather, tweet.

Of course, progressives are apoplectic. They started out pretending that it was no big deal and that Musk’s share of the company wouldn’t change its direction. Then, when he was asked to sit on the board, they started talking about how Twitter wasn’t a governmental entity and the constitutional principles that they usually venerate (choice, equality, fairness) didn’t apply to the marketplace of ideas.

Fortunately for them, Elon has, at least temporarily, decided that he won’t join the board. This might be because he would have been limited to only a 14.9 percent stake in the company as a board member, and could exercise greater financial control if he wasn’t on the board.

Regardless, his decision not to assume an official leadership position hasn’t stopped the apoplexy.

The thing that these triggered Twittorwellians don’t understand is that the marketplace is not just composed of government actors.  If a private company reaches such mammoth dimensions that it essentially “becomes” the marketplace. It is a quasi-governmental entity, and I think that Justices Brandeis and Holmes would agree that the First Amendment has at least some relevance.

Watching progressives sweat is both a delight and an inspiration. I don’t have the billions that Elon Musk does, but I think I will start using my own limited wallet to make my voice heard. I’ll cancel my subscription to WHYY because it no longer welcomes conservative voices. I already canceled my subscription to Disney Plus because of its support for inappropriate content for toddlers. The Inquirer, which seems to think White people killed Christ and did a lot of other things to destroy the universe, is now lining my lizard’s cage. Elon is an inspiration.

But beyond the money, it’s good to see a public figure step up and defend speech, all speech, regardless of content, against the ideological Stalinists. And it’s really great to know that Elon’s coming, and we don’t need to hide our tweets, anymore.

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YouTube Censors Video of PA Republican Governor’s Forum Hosted By Pro-Family Group

In the latest incident of Big Tech appearing to target Republican politicians, YouTube has pulled down the video of last week’s GOP gubernatorial debate hosted by the Pennsylvania Family Institute.

“In a stunning and scandalous attack on a fair and free democratic process, today YouTube took down the recorded livestream video of Pennsylvania Family Institute’s Gubernatorial Candidate Forum,” the group said in a statement.

The forum drew seven of nine Republican candidates for governor to Cairn University in Langhorne on March 24.

The Delaware Valley Journal covered the two-hour forum, which was also broadcast over Philadelphia radio station WPHT and via live stream.

In a message to the conservative group alerting them of the action Youtube said, “Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our misinformation policy. We’ve removed the following content from YouTube: [the Gubernatorial Forum Livestream].”

Pennsylvania Family Institute President Michael Geer was outraged by the action. “YouTube offered no specifics of what is alleged to be in violation, beyond indicating that it had to do with content related to the 2020 presidential election,” said Geer, who was a co-moderator of the forum with radio host Rich Zeoli. “That election was not mentioned in our questions, and we can only conclude that the YouTube censors did not like the answers given by one or more of the candidates.”

“This is a blatant assault on free speech, free elections, on the ability of candidates to freely state their views,” Gree continued, “and on the right of citizens to hear the varied perspectives of those who are seeking their votes. It hinders the process of democracy, shuts down the free marketplace of ideas, and ironically, further erodes confidence in our elections.”

Dave White, one of the candidates who participated in the forum, denounced YouTube’s move as “another example of the leftists in Big Tech trying to silence conservatives, specifically traditional values conservatives. Apparently standing up for the sanctity of human life and defending the rights of young girls who want to play sports is out of bounds for YouTube. The beauty of our First Amendment is that it is not simply freedom of speech, but the freedom to exercise that speech, which includes making our voices heard at the ballot box. YouTube may be able to silence us on their platform, but they will not silence us this November.”

In fact, YouTube has not identified the specific content it found objectionable and did not respond to requests for comment from Delaware Valley Journal. Geer said the only input he had was YouTube’s reference to discussions of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

Another candidate, Congressman Lou Barletta, tweeted: “Big Tech is absolutely out of line censoring the @PFIpolicy Gubernatorial Forum from YouTube! I was proud to participate in this forum and discuss the important issues facing PA. Just because Big Tech doesn’t agree with our politics does NOT give them the right to silence us!”

Fellow candidate Charlie Gerow, a GOP consultant, said, “YouTube’s cancellation of the PFI Forum for the Republican candidates for governor is an outrage. As soon as they did it I spoke out forcefully against their attack on free speech. Attempting to silence the voices of the Republican candidates is yet another example of the cancel culture that is ripping us apart. We’re fighting back and won’t allow ourselves to be silenced, sidelined, or shut down.”

Greer said his organization filed an appeal with YouTube.

“It is clearly a First Amendment issue,” said Greer. “The First Amendment protects free speech, particularly political speech, and YouTube has “squelched it.”

 

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COUNTERPOINT: ‘More Speech, Not Enforced Silence’

Editor’s note: For another opinion see Point: Mad About Joe Rogan? Be Madder at Streaming Monopolies

My name is Michael, and I am a recovering talk show host. And I rise in defense of Joe Rogan.

I make this confession reluctantly, knowing it could mean cancelation, condemnation or  — horrors! — becoming the topic of a CNN news panel. (Please not Jim Acosta — anybody but Acosta!)

But I cannot stand by silently any longer. Too much is at stake. No, not Spotify’s stock price or comedian Joe Rogan’s jaw-dropping $100 million licensing deal. What’s at stake is the idea of free speech as a social good.

While we’re making confessions, allow me another one: I’ve never listened to a minute of a Joe Rogan podcast. Based on media reports, he’s either holding wide-open conversations about COVID-19 public health policy with an eclectic mix of experts and celebrity guests; or he’s spreading anti-science disinformation while posting recipes for how to make bootleg ivermectin in your toilet.

Either way, my view is the same: Let him talk.

I’m with Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis on this: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

This used to be a given in American society. A decade ago, when I was still on the air — in liberal Boston, Massachusetts, no less — we still looked down on the thin-skinned losers demanding to be protected from ideas that made them feel icky.

The answer to “I don’t like what that guy is saying” was still, “Then change the damn channel!”

Now the goal is to shut down the channel, to force Spotify to dump Rogan or die tryin’. And how embarrassing that the effort to de-platform a performer is being led by “artists” like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

As legal scholar Jonathan Turley put it, “Artists against free speech is like athletes against fitness.”

Some have turned the focus on the technology itself: Podcasts have no FCC regulation, social media allows too much false information to flow freely, tech companies have too much control.

But arguments about monopolies and access are meaningless without an audience that demands free speech and open discourse. And based on polls — and the passion of Rogan’s opponents — that’s where we could be headed.

The climate on college campuses is so bad, just half of students say they feel comfortable voicing disagreement with their professors or peers, according to a new Knight-Ipsos poll. That same poll found that, among Americans as a whole, 60 percent support a government-imposed ban on ideas and opinions deemed racist or bigoted.

A Government. Ban. On. Ideas.

A decade ago, that was good for three hours of mockery on my radio show. Today, it’s the view of the majority.

That fact is far more frightening than any tech monopoly or debate over Section 230 regulations.

Grab a copy of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel in defense of free speech, “Fahrenheit 451” — while you still can. You’ll be reminded that the reason books were banned in this fictional future wasn’t because of government tyranny. No, books were banned by popular demand. The citizenry demanded a “safe space,” free from upsetting thoughts and ideas.

Far too many of my fellow citizens are demanding the same today.

Censorship is cowardice. Cancel culture is crybaby crap. You hear an opinion you don’t like? Put on your big girl panties and deal with it, Francis.

Oops. Sorry about getting so saucy. As I said, I’m a recovering talk host.

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BLOOMQUIST: Atlantic Broadband Dumps Newsmax: Business as Usual, or Corporate Censorship?

For some fans of Newsmax, 2021 ended with a fizzle, not a bang.

On December 31, Atlantic Broadband, a cable provider that serves 18 states — including Florida, Pennsylvania and New York –dropped the conservative news channel from its lineup without notice. Newsmax immediately responded to that decision with full-throated charges of censorship.

“Despite our high ratings… it is clear that Atlantic doesn’t like Newsmax’s point of view,” Newsmax said in a thundering message to its viewers. “They don’t want our strong support of American values you care about…Atlantic doesn’t like Newsmax or its news perspective and they want to shut us down.”

Predictably perhaps, Atlantic Broadband’s response seemed to paraphrase the last words of “The Godfather’s” Tessio: Tell Newsmax it was never politics. It was just business.

According to a statement posted on the company’s website: “While we worked in good faith to negotiate a new agreement, Newsmax insisted on unreasonable terms and conditions that would have resulted in increased TV fees for all Atlantic Broadband customers even though Newsmax is available for free for other viewers. This is unfair to Atlantic Broadband customers, including those who enjoy the channel.  Because we could not reach a new agreement, the channel is no longer offered on our lineup.”

So, what to make of this? Supporters of Newsmax are understandably suspicious given progressives’ ongoing calls for cable channels to drop conservative news outlets, including Newsmax and Fox News Channel, that they claim spread falsehoods about the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

In one state, the Newsmaxers’ arched eyebrows might be further raised upon learning Atlantic Broadband recently signed franchise agreements with at least four New Hampshire localities to provide high-speed fiber internet, voice, and TV service. Could there have been a quid pro quo involved?  Not inconceivable. But that would be a big concession for Atlantic given that it serves viewers in numerous deeply red states, including Mississippi and Alabama.

On the flip side, cable providers routinely drop content providers, including local broadcast TV stations and national cable networks. That typically happens because the two parties can’t reach a new agreement on how much the cable provider will pay to carry the station or network’s content. You know, those radio ads urging you to “Call XYZ Cable today and tell them you want the Bowling Channel”?  That’s the content provider seeking negotiation leverage with the cable provider.

And as for ratings, in 2021, Newsmax’s viewership ranked 60th among cable TV networks, with an average daily viewership of 186,000.

If that number seems small in a nation of more than 330 million people, keep in mind the highest-rated cable channel, Fox News, averaged 1.3 million last year. Its highest-rated show, Tucker Carlson, typically had about 3 million viewers.

CNN averaged just 787,000 daily viewers.

In other words, battles over cable carriage are becoming more like fights in academia. The brawls are so bloody because the stakes are so low. Cable TV is on the wane. In 2016, 63 percent of Americans had cable TV, according to a CBS News poll. Today that number is 45 percent. During that same period, households that stream their video content jumped from 20 percent to 37 percent.

A similar 2021 study by the Pew Research Center makes it clear that older Americans are the last bastion of cable TV viewership:

“Only about a third (34 percent) of Americans ages 18 to 29 now get TV through cable or satellite, down 31 percentage points from 2015. Among those 50 and older, the decline has been less dramatic. Those ages 50 to 64 saw a 14-point drop since 2015. Those 65 and older saw a 5-point decline, which is not a statistically significant difference.”

Viewership for cable news channels tends to skew older. The median age of Fox News viewers is 68. The median for CNN is 64. So, it makes sense for Newsmax to fight to stay on every cable provider’s roster.

But cable TV is like an icicle on a 38-degree day. It will be around for a while, but it gets smaller every minute. Smart content providers, including Newsmax, understand the future lies in live streaming and video podcasts. As Atlantic Broadband pointed out in its statement, Newsmax fans can stream the channel from the Newsmax website for free. It is also available via several streaming services and devices, including Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Apple TV.

And, as Newsmax noted in its statement, cable devotees in New Hampshire can always switch to another cable or satellite service that continues to carry Newsmax, such as DirecTV or AT&T.

The messaging from Newsmax and other conservative media outlets may remain consistent. But how that message is delivered is very much in transition.

 

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Senate Candidate Dr. Oz Decries Facebook Censorship

Dr. Oz is off Facebook, and he says it’s censorship.

Even before Facebook and Twitter nuked former President Donald Trump’s accounts, there were instances of Big Tech censoring conservatives, Republicans, and right-leaning media outlets.

A case in point is the New York Post’s bombshell report about Hunter Biden’s salacious laptop, which was suppressed by Twitter before the Nov. 2020 presidential election. Later, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted the social media company should not have censored that article, but the damage was done. Facebook also put restrictions on the news article, whose accuracy has never been challenged or disproven.

Now, as celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz enters the 2022 Republican race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, he is accusing Facebook of returning to its old tricks.

“I just got some disturbing news,” Oz said in a press release on Tuesday. “Facebook has restricted my account – and is not letting me advertise to you. It could hurt the momentum that we’ve been building with this campaign. Now, we’ve asked them what’s going on and they say they’re looking into it, but it’s been more than 24 hours. I need to get my conservative messages out. They matter.

“I don’t want big tech putting their thumb on the scale to shift the balance of power here,” said Oz. “You need to learn about strong families and how to protect your individual freedoms. We’re not going to be canceled. We won’t be censored. We won’t be shut down.”

Oz spokeesman Casey Contres said, “Big Tech and the political establishment are trying to stop Dr. Oz’s campaign to empower Pennsylvanians, but it is not going to work. We are seeing incredible energy and enthusiasm at every stop and that will only continue to grow.”

Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and star of the television show, “Dr. Oz,” has entered a crowded field. It includes Republicans Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, author and television commentator Kathy Barnette, Sean Gale, a Montgomery County lawyer, and Carla Sands, who served as ambassador to Denmark for President Trump. Democrats include doctors Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County commissioners, and Kevin Baumlin, a Philadelphia ER doctor; U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb; Lt. Gov. John Fetterman; and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia).

Libertarian Erik Gerhardt is also a candidate.

Facebook, meanwhile, did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Oz’s complaint.

 

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