AMAC Exclusive By Seamus Brennan
From continuing to push for trillion-dollar spending bills as the nation suffers from historic inflation to revoking a crucial border security measure in the midst of the worst illegal immigration crisis on record, the left just seems to keep doubling down on their most unpopular and out of touch policies. But just when it looked as if progressives’ self-absorbed political bubble couldn’t get any more detached from reality, none other than former President Barack Obama took the stage last week to lecture Americans about the dangers of “disinformation,” effectively making a case for more censorship of free speech even as the issue becomes more of a political liability for the Democratic Party.
During the speech on April 21 at Stanford University, Obama railed against “disinformation,” which he described as “one of the biggest reasons for democracy’s weakening.” But as Democrats have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt in recent years, to them, terms like “disinformation” generally mean real information that happens to contradict their preferred political and ideological narratives.
Throughout his remarks, Obama seemed to lament the fact that the left’s once-ironclad grip on the dissemination of information has recently been challenged. “When it came to the news, at least,” he said, “citizens across the political spectrum tended to operate using a shared set of facts.” He went on: “Today, of course, we occupy entirely different media realities, fed directly into our phones.”
Obama specifically took aim at social media content that casts doubt on the left’s draconian COVID policies and vaccine mandates, claiming that “people are dying from misinformation.” Similarly, in an apparent attempt to castigate conservatives and right-leaning Americans as being responsible for divisiveness on social media platforms, he bemoaned so-called “conspiracy theories,” asserting that the national “information ecosystem” is “turbocharging some of humanity’s worst impulses.”
What Obama did not acknowledge in his remarks, however, is his own well-documented record of hostility towards members of the press—especially those who were openly critical of his administration and its policies. As investigative reporter James Risen wrote for the New York Times in 2017, “the Justice Department and the F.B.I.” under the Obama administration “spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.”
Regardless of what Obama’s true intentions were when he visited Stanford this week, his remarks are almost entirely unlikely to advance his—or his party’s—goals. In reality, the former president’s speech is likely to even further invigorate conservatives and other right-of-center voices – or even those voices on the left who still value freedom of speech – who are eager to turn the page on years of arbitrary and highly politicized speech codes emanating from America’s largest and most powerful institutions.
Evidence of growing public discontent with online censorship in particular has been on full display over the past several days with the ongoing drama surrounding Tesla CEO and free speech advocate Elon Musk’s bid to reform Twitter’s censorship policies. In late March, Musk first signaled his frustration with Twitter’s disregard for free speech by posting a two-option poll to his followers, asking them whether “Twitter rigorously adheres to” the principle that “[f]ree speech is essential to a functioning democracy,” and later stating that the “consequences of this poll will be important.” More than 70 percent of respondents voted “No.”
Shortly thereafter, Musk bought a nine percent stake in Twitter, making him the platform’s biggest shareholder. He then revealed his intention to buy the entire company. Just hours before Obama took the stage at Stanford, Musk accelerated his bid to purchase Twitter, announcing he had $46.5 billion on hand and was considering taking his offer directly to Twitter’s shareholders.
Though Twitter has predictably not been receptive to his offers, the prospect of Musk’s purchase of the company, complemented by his strong public advocacy for free speech, has emboldened conservatives and free speech advocates while sending shivers down the spines of Twitter employees and members of the mainstream media.
Taken within the context of Musk’s actions in regard to Twitter and growing public disillusionment with the role Big Tech plays in censoring speech online, Obama’s visit to Stanford likely signals two things: first, that the left is scared of conservatives’ newfound momentum in the arena of free speech, and second, that progressives remain entirely disconnected from the American public when it comes to reigning in the power of Big Tech.
“Part of the reason it’s hard to bring about change,” Obama tweeted several days before the Stanford event, “is because we live in a media environment that elevates falsehoods as much as truths and divides people as much as it brings them together.”
He’s right, of course – but it’s Obama and his allies in Big Tech and the corporate media who are elevating falsehoods and suppressing the truth. His real concern is that the corrupt game he and his progressive friends have played for years will be exposed, and they may lose their power and influence as a result.
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