One of the more unsettling comments from influential lawmakers came on Wednesday with little fanfare despite being downright Orwellian in its perspective around “media literacy” and a congressional “truth and reconciliation” committee.
“There’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed, but it seems to be more investigating in style rather than truth and reconciliation,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘Almost Heaven, West Virginia’ — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate New York AG sues NYPD over excessive force at Black Lives Matter protests Pressley’s chief of staff said her office’s panic buttons ‘had been torn out’ before Capitol riot MORE (D-N.Y.) said in an Instagram video post Wednesday.
In a related story, Orwell’s “1984” had a government propaganda department called “The Ministry of Truth.”
“I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is part of what happened here,” Ocasio-Cortez went on. “We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said.
“Rein in our media environment.” Ah yes, nothing like the government deciding what is “truth” and what is not. That doesn’t happen just in fiction novels, but also in real life in 2021. China and North Korea and Iran come to mind.
So how does Ocasio-Cortez define truth? Here’s what she said in a 2018 “60 Minutes” interview when asked about how she’s been fact-checked around dubious claims in public comments:
“People want to really blow up one figure here or one word there. I would argue that they’re missing the forest for the trees. I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.”
So that’s how the congresswoman defines truth. Not by being factually correct, of course, but being whatever her version is of being morally right.
So, if I argue against defunding police or for expanding the Senate by adding two states, two very big things she supports, does that put me in violation of this truth committee because I disagree with her in what she sees as just causes from a moral perspective? Will I be pulled off the airwaves? Do I then have to testify before this committee? How does it work, exactly, when a Democratic-controlled government is regulating our media environment?
Ministries of Truth have no business in a free and fair U.S. media. And it’s amazing to see how many in the media are ignoring these dangerous comments. Because, apparently, it’s the 11th commandment: “Thou shall not criticize the Congresswoman from Queens with dangerous ideas.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments come after a week that marked the most overt, obvious and chilling censorship of conservatives by Big Tech oligarchs we’ve seen yet. And under the next Democratic administration, which will have no Senate or Congress to serve as a check and balance, expect these Orwellian-Cortezian tactics to continue.
To review what we’ve witnessed since the horrific, repugnant, deadly siege on the Capitol last week:
(A) – The banning of President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to ‘tarnish’ administration’s accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser’s lawsuit MORE on Twitter in perpetuity for the crime of announcing that he won’t attend the Biden inauguration. Reason: Through codebreaking not seen since the Brits in World War II, Twitter concluded that the president was actually sending a bat signal to supporters to attack the event since he won’t be there, which is a stretch.
(B) – Google, Apple and Amazon colluding – indirectly or otherwise – to crush Twitter competitor Parler out of existence after it became the most downloaded app in the Apple store on Jan 7. And in the process of doing so, sending an unambiguous message to anyone thinking of filling the Parler void: If you try to create a social media platform that is enticing to conservatives, we have the power to eliminate you through a three-step process. First, Amazon takes away cloud hosting services the way an engine is stripped from a car. Then Apple, through its App Store, and Google, through its app store, withhold the keys to entry to the platform. All say Parler played a role in its members organizing the Capitol siege but have no problem that #HangMikePence trended on Twitter for hours. Again, selective enforcement.
(C) – YouTube, owned by Google, suspending Trump’s channel on the site without specifying which video prompted the suspension. YouTube is only citing a toxic comments section as a threat to public safety. If that’s the argument, it’s a selective one, because it’s a cesspool of hatred across comment sections in almost all publications.
Much like what we’re seeing with Trump impeachment 2.0 in the House, there is no due process in any of these decisions. It’s simply: You’re guilty. There will be no hearings, no chance to present a counterargument. All are private companies with enormous power, thereby exempting them from playing fairly. It’s their business.
Critics say the only solution is to break up the Facebooks and Amazons and other giants currently dominating the landscape while arbitrarily squashing competition, but will the new administration really seek to do that? The Daily Caller recently reported that at least 14 of Biden’s picks to join the administration or advise on the transition “have worked for Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google or Amazon,” while adding that “his chief National Security Council spokesperson will be a former Twitter exec.”
It was also abundantly clear during the campaign that social media was in the tank for the Democratic ticket, most notably seen in Twitter and Facebook’s suppression and outright censorship of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden exclusive. Twitter was the most egregious in actually locking the Post out of its account for having the audacity to do investigative reporting. At the time, Twitter and traditional media pointed the finger, without evidence, at Russian disinformation. Two months later and after Biden crossed the finish line, it was miraculously revealed by the Biden camp that Hunter was actually the subject of a year-long FBI investigation.
Given how close races were in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin, we’ll never know if that story getting more ink and airtime in traditional media outlets might have changed those outcomes and the overall result. Either way, the Biden folks are undoubtedly happy with the big assist in getting their guy to the Oval Office.
Censorship is a very real thing happening in this country by what is becoming its most powerful entity, even perhaps more than the government itself: Big Tech.
And it doesn’t stop at Trump’s social media accounts. It extends to members of Congress wanting to establish their own ministry of truth, according to a congresswoman with more social media followers than anyone in government.
If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.