Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., joined with a group of Republican senators Wednesday to introduce the Disclose Government Censorship Act, which seeks to end government-directed speech suppression and viewpoint censorship.
In a press release, Hagerty referenced the White House recently acknowledging that it routinely urges Big Tech companies to remove speech they deem to be inaccurate or unhelpful.
“The purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent government from suppressing speech with which it disagrees,” he said in the release. “If the federal government is attempting to end-run the Constitution by secretly working with tech platforms to censor Americans’ speech, then the American people deserve to know.”
Appearing on Fox News’ “America Reports,” Hagerty echoed a theme in the release that the Biden administration is “colluding with Big Tech.”
“I think the American public was shocked, just as I was, with the revelations that the White House is colluding with Big Tech to try to censor our speech, trying to control the opinions of American people, trying to control what we say,” he stated. “A clear violation of our First Amendment rights, so what they’re doing is trying to outsource this to Facebook and other Big Tech corporations. That’s wholly un-American”
“The White House seems to have forgotten the fact that in this country, the American public controls the government. It’s not the other way around,” Hagerty added.
The proposed legislation would require the White House to publicly disclose such actions on a central website.
The senator said there appears to be a political element to this effort, which he finds “extremely concerning.”
“I think it damages America’s trust in so many ways,” Hagerty explained.
A clip featuring White House press secretary Jen Psaki revealed they don’t take down or censor online content, but they do flag it to social media companies.
Hagerty cited former President Trump’s lawsuit against Big Tech in saying the White House “is making these Big Tech companies an extension of the federal government.”
“Certainly the federal government is prohibited by the First Amendment from doing just what Jen Psaki is talking about,” he said. “But to outsource this, to have it just one step away to… ‘flag’ it and to influence it, I think is very, very concerning. I think that’s at the heart of President Trump’s case right now against Big Tech.”
Ironically, host John Roberts noted, Democrats are currently pushing legislation to hold Big Tech accountable if they don’t censor what they say is misinformation on the web.
The GOP senator astutely pointed to the handling of the Wuhan lab leak theory as an example of the effects of online censorship.
“If you think about the damage that’s been done by the censorship of the discussion about the Wuhan lab. I mean, now we’re a year and a half away from the outbreak of this pandemic,” Hagerty said. “Wuhan lab involvement was silenced. Our ability to step back and get to the bottom of this now has been severely hampered by the fact that there was very little information available.”
“We couldn’t understand and assess what was happening,” he continued. “Now, we’re trying to go back in arrears after samples have been destroyed, researchers have been silenced, the wet markets have been obliterated. I think that that underscores more clearly than any that this is a huge issue that we need to step up and address.”
Hagerty concluded, “We cannot allow these platforms to essentially be an extension of the federal government to do what’s convenient for the federal government, and again, silence America’s free speech.”
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