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Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.80 minutes to read.

“The 1st Amendment assumes the existence and durability of a private news industry. This suggests the Constitution not only allows but requires the government to take steps to keep the press viable. And in fact, the government has done this since the beginning of the republic.

The current press landscape demands new action. Journalism jobs over the past two decades have declined by 60%. As newspapers close and local broadcasting and cable news reduce investment in reporting, digital platforms have diverted ad revenues and enabled the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation…

Deliberate government actions map neatly to the history of news in America. The Postal Act of 1792 generously subsidized the delivery of all newspapers… The government created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and National Public Radio and developed public television and radio stations, providing critical vehicles for further innovation.

More recently, existing tax benefits for individuals and foundations are helping to strengthen the burgeoning field of nonprofit journalism… There are many other ways the government can strengthen the failing news industry while steering clear of censorship or control of media content…

Voters and government officials — anyone devoted to the Constitution — should not be willing to watch the news industry collapse. Preserving democracy calls for measures to revitalize the creation, production and distribution of news.”

Martha Minow is a professor and former dean of Harvard Law School | Newton Minow served as chair of the Federal Communications Commission under President Kennedy. (Published in the LA Times – $)

“‘I just don’t trust the government.’

That’s at the heart of the explanation provided by millions of Americans these days who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19, or even to wear masks…

It is a remarkable and deeply troubling state of affairs. While distrust of high officials is certainly nothing new and, indeed, sometimes warranted, for it to hold sway with respect to such a massive and unprecedented global crisis is to take a giant new leap into a yawning abyss…

The most frequently advanced explanation for this disastrous and deadly state of affairs — the power of social media — is certainly a huge part of the problem. In today’s world in which digital technology provides a means for countless self-proclaimed “experts” to bypass the accepted systems of peer review and “publish” alarmist, but superficially persuasive “research,” a lot of gullible people will fall prey…

That said, there’s clearly more to the deadly and frequently suicidal resistance to vaccines and masking than mere social media lies… It took more than a bevy of inaccurate social media posts for vaccine and mask resistance to take hold; it also took decades of anti-government propaganda from conservative and “libertarian” politicians, clerics, “think tanks” and media outlets to till the soil in which misinformation and distrust would sprout and take hold…

Having grown up amidst a relentless drumbeat of increasingly scurrilous claims designed to undermine the legitimacy of disfavored branches of government… it’s little surprise that millions of Americans are now predisposed to smell a rat and fall prey to lies in times of crisis.”

Rob Schofield, director of NC Policy Watch

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.82 minutes to read.

“[YouTube] last week blocked a 45-minute video of my news conference announcing a lawsuit challenging Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “vaccine passport” as an invasion of New Yorkers’ privacy and an unreasonable mandate on small businesses.

I believe the vaccine is safe, effective and the best means of combating the Covid pandemic. But Mr. de Blasio’s mandate is a clear government overreach. Still YouTube removed the video, citing an alleged violation, never explained, of its “medical misinformation policy.” The video was censored for two days. After I appealed YouTube’s decision twice, the video reappeared and I was notified that after “taking another look,” YouTube had changed its mind.

Behind the platforms, the people deciding what is “misinformation” and a violation of “community guidelines” are doing so in a subjective manner. Social-media giants suspended the U.S. president while continuing to provide a megaphone to tyrants like Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Venezuela’s Nicolas Máduro and Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel…

It’s time for Congress to rein them in and reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to require transparency for content-enforcement decisions and disclosure of appeals processes—and to remove liability protections for companies who censor constitutionally protected speech.

Lawmakers must end this attack on our constitutional freedom to debate issues and present opposing views. If America is to remain the leader of the free world, our people need to be free.”

Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, represents New York’s 11th Congressional District. (Published in the WSJ)

“According to a new Pew Research Center survey, “Roughly half of U.S. adults (48 percent) now say the government should take steps to restrict false information [online], even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content.”

At first glance, it seems like an unobjectionable policy goal: Ensure accuracy on social media… In the age of COVID-misinformation and vaccine uncertainty, it seems an increasing number of Americans are comfortable with government censoring untruths from the world-wide web—as if the political apparatus of modern government might actually be equipped to do so without collaterally eroding the speech rights of controversial or unpopular opinions in the process…

Placing government officials—who have repeatedly shown a blatant disregard for the limits on their own power—in the position of acting as arbiter of what is “misinformation” simply isn’t a recipe for anything other than eventual political censorship…

After all, no electoral victory is ever final in a truly democratic system. When the next Trump-style GOPer manages to cobble together enough electoral victories to win the presidency (which history tells us will happen at some point) it’s hard to imagine that Democrats will be as trusting in government’s ability to dispassionately “restrict” only the flat-earthers, vaccine-conspiracists and other purveyors of “fake news.”

The results of the Pew Research poll are a depressing demonstration of the degree to which our liberal sensibilities have been injured by partisan tribalism. In the end, putting politicians and the government in charge of regulating online speech won’t clarify the truth. It will only politicize it further.”

Michael Schaus is director of communications for the Nevada Policy Research Institute. (Published in the Nevada Independent)