Thursday, October 15, 2020

Censorship and Narrative Are Incestuous Bedfellows

*Updated below.

I'll admit it. I am a diehard fan of the New York Post. I have been for most of my adult life. Who couldn't be a fan of a tabloid that once famously screamed "Headless Body Found in Topless Bar?"

To be precise, I don't read the Post as much as I scan it. If its scandals and scare headlines do nothing else, they greatly enhance the effects of my first cup of morning coffee. My daily hit of Post is the necessary prelude to seeing what the New York Times is up to. It's also fun to count the hours or days that it takes for the Times to catch up to the Post's scoops on the latest grisly crime or celebrity death.

As I am writing this blog entry at 9 a.m. on Thursday, more than 24 hours have passed since the Post broke the story of Hunter Biden's laptop (fake? hacked? stolen?). And the Times was still not On It. Not that I really expected them to be. No other major publication, as far as I could tell, was touching it at first either.

But what's unsettling is that unlike its fellow Narrators, the Times wasn't even covering the real story - which is that Twitter and Facebook had unilaterally blocked all links to the Post article and had even blocked the accounts of some of the more prominent users promoting it. In the coup de grace, Twitter blocked the entire account of the New York Post itself.

The real story now is not the chronic Hunter Biden mess. The real story is that a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have arrogated to themselves the power to control everything we see and hear. That these billionaires also happen to be the incestuous bedfellows of the so-called Deep State/ a/k/a the Permanent Ruling Class, should be even more cause for alarm.

They are flailing and they are scrambling to explain themselves to the American public. They haven't had time to contrive or peddle the usual Kremlin narrative. They have not been able to tie the Delaware computer repairman - who claims he copied Hunter's hard disk after Hunter apparently was so messed up on drugs that he never claimed or even paid for the repairs to his machine - to Vladimir Putin and his election-meddling. discord-sowing, democracy-destroying army of Internet trolls.

And in their rush to censorship, they have given a great gift to Trump. They really are out to get him, and by extension, his supporters.

I'd given the Post article a cursory skim on Wednesday morning. My skepticism was immediately aroused when the name of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared in connection to it. The Post is openly backing Donald Trump's re-election and digging up Biden scandals by the score. Could it nonetheless be true that Hunter Biden is even more of a scammer and influence peddler than we knew, selling access to his father regardless of whether he could actually produce his father in the flesh?  Is it also possible that Joe Biden lied through his teeth when he denied either knowing what Sonny Boy was up to, or that he'd had his own direct part in the grift? Of course it is. But when weighing whether a piece of journalism is trustworthy or not, you must always look at the sourcing and the context. And that especially goes for the Paper of Record (the Times) and its pro-war propaganda quoting unnamed officials.

Long story short: I took the whole thing with a pebble sized grain of salt. I figured that diehard Trump supporters would promote the story, and that diehard non-Trump supporters would scoff at it, or just ignore it. I never figured that the reading public would be denied the chance to even see it in order to draw their own conclusions. I, personally, didn't find the piece compelling enough to either think about or blog about on Wednesday. 

But here I am on Thursday, blogging about it. And wondering whether this censorship had the Democratic Party's hand on it, or whether Joe Biden himself raised enough of a stink about it to get his Facebook/Twitter CEO/ Deep State donors to help stop its spread. Despite polls that show Biden winning in a landslide, you have to wonder what they might have to hide and fear.

You also have to wonder what the Times has to fear by deliberately not informing its readers about the censorship and the slap in the face to the First Amendment. Then again, they are barely covering Julian Assange's extradition hearing and the dangers to press freedom that the Wikileaks prosecution presents.

The Post debacle is a lot harder to suppress, of course.They call the boomeranging, mushrooming effect that its Biden story has elicited the Streisand Effect, after the phenomenon of Barbra Streisand once drawing outsize attention to the location of her luxury estate through her strident complaints about the tabloid press publicizing the location of her luxury estate.

Tonight's dueling presidential Town Halls are another example of the Censorship Industrial Complex hard at work.  When the privately-run Commission on Presidential Debates decided to cancel the second official debate because a Covid-stricken Trump balked at the event being aired remotely, ABC-Disney agreed to host a solo Town Hall for Biden. A since-recovered (or so we're told) Trump then made a sweet deal with his alma mater, NBC, to headline a similar event for him, at the exact same time and on the exact same date. 

This ratings-driven "Battle of the Presidential Network Stars" is, of course, just the latest blatant example of broadcasting against the public interest. MSNBC star Rachel Maddow, who has become fabulously wealthy off the Trump-Hate/Russiagate Narrative franchise (#Resistance, Inc) is helping her network's ratings immensely by pretend-biting the very hand that feeds her. She is even leading the pack of censorious liberals who are urging people to protest! But what this really means is  that millions more will Tune In to watch even more of Maddow's censorious commentary as she leads the post-game NBC panel manufacturing the outrage.

Maybe some enterprising YouTuber can contrive a split screen image of Biden and Trump talking over one another at their dueling town halls. It would essentially be a repeat of their first Wrestlemania debate.

There is simultaneously not enough choice and too much choice.

 With Halloween approaching, there are literally hundreds of other, better horror movies streaming endlessly out of our smart screens to keep us occupied.

And if that doesn't appeal, don't forget that there is always the horror of our uncensored, day-to-day lives to fall back on, to keep us at least tenuously riveted to reality.

*Update: The New York Times has finally weighed in, via an article time-stamped 11.43 a.m., on the censorship. The Gray Lady can't ignore the uncomfortable fact that Twitter had also suspended the account of the Trump campaign for promoting the Post's Biden story. The Times piece uncritically reports that the campaign's promotion of the Post article violated the social media giant's rule against promoting stolen material.  The Paper of Record thus tacitly gives its own stamp of approval to Twitter's claim that, because Hunter Biden's emails were private and allegedly "hacked," evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens contained therein should be and will be suppressed. This specious rationale for censorship is identical to claims that the Wikileaks revelations about Hillary Clinton's chicanery are suspect on their face -  not because they are not true, but because of the means by which they were obtained. The story that the Clinton emails were hacked by "the Russians" has been repeated so often that it is an article of faith, although it has never been proven.

 It's another sad day for journalism.


Mark Thomason said...

"not because they are not true, but because of the means by which they were obtained"

Meanwhile the very same paper did the very same thing, running days of headlines over stolen income tax returns. There was no big story there, but they were delighted to have stolen the much sought returns.

Kat said...

I'm not sure why you brought the first amendment into this. It was always available on this member of government's official web site:
And now it is back on twitter. Phew! Score one for the little guy.
Really important stuff.

Karen Garcia said...


Jordan's congressional office is not a newspaper or a Youtube channel or a social media account. Regular "folks" including but not limited to his constituents may not be as prone to visit his website as they are to go on Facebook or Twitter - whose oligarchic leaders, believe it or not, couldn't care less about, much less have or have much say in, blocking congressional websites.

Hope that clears up any disingenuous confusion.

And no, just because I defend the right of the Post to publish does not mean I am a closet Trump supporter. Nothing is more disheartening than seeing the First Amendment being used as a weapon of political convenience, a right which should not apply if it doesn't benefit "our side."

Kat said...

How is it a first amendment violation if twitter removes it?

Karen Garcia said...


While it is true that Twitter and Facebook technically have the right to not publish information, my argument is that they should not also have the right to arbitrarily ban some users from exercising ALL their own rights to either write or to read information and concurrently, these oligarchs should not act willy nilly to deprive their users of the right to decide for themselves what they want to read and whether or not to believe what they read.

The censorship involved in this particular case involves not only the suppression of the Post story, but the TOTAL suppression of users linking to it - thus censoring all the other things that these users write about and link to on "their" accounts. It is overkill and it is censorship and it is blatantly clumsy and authoritarian.

I would further argue that since our government is effectively a consortium of corporate interests, and not the representative democracy it is propagandized as, the First Amendment's protection of the people from this privatized government's censorship very much applies here. Twitter and Facebook's CEOs are at the highest echelons of the Ruling Class, which bankrolls the politicians elected by "the people" to run the government.They heavily influence public policy, staff the courts and control political parties. As Gilens and Page have proven, "the people" are given extremely short shrift when it comes to their rights and desires.

Facebook and Twitter and other media monopolies should thus be broken up, in my opinion, for among other things riding roughshod over free speech whenever it might affect their bottom lines or the fortunes of their preferred political lackeys.

Kat said...

But this makes it sound as if all of the ownership class is marching in lockstep. Rupert Murdoch owns a media empire too. (and beyond that, even Hollywood and traditional media is often at odds with big tech-- think of copyright) Zuck was welcome in the Obama White House and he is welcome in the Trump White House. If anything I would say that the failure of the NYT goes way back with their credulity concerning Zuckeberg's mission to "bring the world together". I suppose that if that was the way he could make the most money, he would have done that, but we know that isn't the case. I also remember a very prominent and glowing article on the 2012 Obama campaign's data mining operation. It was ridiculous. People really seemed to believe that there was no way the Republicans could catch up let alone weaponize it.
Ultimately, I care as much about this story as I do the Russia investigation-- not much at all. There are far bigger fish to fry and neither really centers the concerns of ordinary Americans.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Normally, I wouldn't leave something like this in the comment section but I just heard a great interview with Eric Blanc a writer at Jacobin Magazine that I think Sardonicky readers can relate to. I found it a bit encouraging for our side but there is lots of work to do.

chuck said...


It's kind of head-scratching to read you're a fan of that racist rag. I wouldn't line my birdcage with it.

KW said...

This country is chock full of people who support corrupt politicians. Our kids will suffer the consequences. The media feeds lies to the citizens, and encourages hate. Remember how the Nazi Party began? Intimidation...then eventually, much worse. We are a sick people.