This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, September 7, 2022:
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty demanded on Tuesday that additional documentation be provided to the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana in their lawsuit.
That lawsuit, filed back in May, contended that after
having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms [i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Google] for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion [with those platforms] under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called “disinformation,” “misinformation,” and “malinformation.”
Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana accused the Biden administration of suppressing the First Amendment-protected right to free speech on topics ranging from Covid lockdowns, vaccines, and masking to Hunter Biden’s “laptop from Hell.”
The court ruled that the plaintiffs Schmitt and Landry did have a case but limited discovery — the process that takes place after a lawsuit has been filed and before trial that provides information to lawyers to prepare for that trial — to just a few administration officials.
Plaintiffs allege they have, through expedited discovery, obtained information that federal officials and agencies not named in Plaintiffs’ Complaint and Amended Complaint, have also engaged in communications with social-media platforms about misinformation, disinformation, and censorship of disfavored speech.
These allegedly include the State Department, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the Census Bureau, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations [sic] (“FBI”).
He allowed those additional federal officials and agencies to be added to the original lawsuit, holding that
the requested information is obviously very relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims.
Dr. Fauci’s communications would be relevant to Plaintiffs’ allegations in reference to alleged suppression of speech relating to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19’s origin, and to alleged suppression of speech about the efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is included as well in the broadened discovery process:
This Court believes Plaintiffs are entitled to external communications by Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci in their capacities as White House Press Secretary and Chief Medical Advisor to the President to third-party social media platforms.
A lot of damning evidence has already surfaced, thanks to the discovery process and prior investigations into the government-media collusion. For example, in a May 5, 2021, press conference, Biden’s previous press secretary, Jen Psaki, flatly stated: “The President’s view is that the major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation, and misinformation.”
During a July 15, 2021, press conference, Psaki admitted that “we are in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff.” She added, “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread misinformation.”
Facebook admitted that, based on communication with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the media platform has taken “aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19.”
That “aggressive action” included pulling down disfavored posts and banning those behind the posts from using the platform.
Schmitt has learned from the information already obtained that the government-media information collusion is vastly larger and deeper:
The limited discovery produced so far provides a tantalizing snapshot into a massive, sprawling federal “Censorship Enterprise,” which includes dozens of federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies and components identified so far.
[These officials] communicate with social-media platforms about misinformation, disinformation, and the suppression of private speech on social media — all with the intent and effect of pressuring social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech that federal officials disfavor.
The initial tranche of information resulting from the lawsuit so far revealed that more than 50 government officials across a dozen government agencies were involved in the collusion. But some of them, specifically Dr. Fauci, refused to answer, or gave incomplete answers. Doughty corrected that by ordering Fauci and Jean-Pierre to comply. And they have 21 days to do so.
The plaintiffs’ New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) lawyer Jenin Younes stated:
We know from the previous round of discovery that efforts to censor the speech of those who disagree with the government on covid policy have come from the top.
Americans deserve to know Anthony Fauci’s participation in this enterprise, especially since he has publicly demanded that specific individuals, including two of our clients, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, be censored on social media.
In response to yesterday’s ruling, a spokesman for the Biden administration doubled down on the government’s perceived role as Big Censor:
We believe in and we support freedom of speech, and we also believe it is important for all media platforms, including social media, to represent factual scientific information and combat misinformation and disinformation that can cost lives.