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“Free Speech Is Being Weaponized”: Columbia Dean and New Yorker Writer Calls For More Censorship

By Jonathan Turley | December 11, 2020

We have been discussing how reporters, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and key advisers. This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Now, Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. That’s right. A journalism dean and writer declaring that the problem is that free speech itself is allowing too much freedom on the Internet and other forums.

Coll’s comments came in a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when he was asked by Kasie Hunt about the need for Big Tech to censor speech. Rather than defend the right of people to express themselves freely, Coll lashed out at companies like Facebook as “motivated, as all companies are, to make money” though at the same time is “acting like a public square.” He decried the failure to have more expansive regulation of free speech and showed little concern or merit for arguments from free speech advocates. Like Harvard academics who recently declared “China was right” about censorship, Coll just assumed that it was self-evident that too much free speech is a bad thing and that these companies need to protect people from harmful or false ideas.

“And yes, Facebook has moved somewhat. They’ve had a better election in 2020 than they did in 2016. They’ve learned to put some brakes on, you know, here and there, but you can’t get away from the fact that their mission is to connect everybody in the world. That’s what motivates Mark Zuckerberg and it’s his passion and he profoundly believes in free speech.”

What is most maddening is that Coll spoke on behalf of journalists in calling for less freedom:

“Those of us in journalism have to come to terms with the fact that free speech, a principle that we hold sacred, is being weaponized against the principle of journalism and what do we do about that,. As reporters, we kind of march into this war with our facts nobly shouldered as if they were going to win the day and what we’re seeing that is because of the scale of this alternative reality that you’ve been talking about, our facts, our principles, our scientific method–it isn’t enough. So what do we do?”

That used to be an easy question. What you do is allow free speech to combat bad speech. What you do is support the right of citizens and journalists to publish without censorship. What you do is to embrace the freedom of expression while reinforcing the need to use that freedom to counter disinformation. Instead, Coll is joining the forces seeking to silence or curtail the speech of others. You do not support free speech by calling for its curtailment. For free speech advocates, it is as compelling as saying that we needed to “save” villages by destroying them in Vietnam. Worse yet, he is doing it in the names of “good journalism.”

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War

By Robert BRIDGE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.04.2018

When America’s top thinking man’s journal fails to consider at least one possible alternative as to who may have been responsible for the latest alleged chemical attack in Syria, aside from the ‘Assad regime,’ then we may conclude that the entire mainstream media complex is receiving its marching orders from above.

In an April 14 article in the erstwhile prestigious New Yorker magazine (“Russia’s ‘Madman’ Routine in Syria May Have Averted Direct Confrontation with the U.S., For Now”), author Joshua Yaffa singlehandedly proves there is absolutely no straying from the government-approved narrative that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of carrying out an alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7. He also manages to pull Russia into the elaborate conspiracy theory, which is now accepted as bona-fide truth in the Western world.

“Moscow welcomes Assad’s defeat of the rebels, and has little concern for how he achieves it, but the use of chemical weapons is an embarrassment and source of unwelcome consequences for the Kremlin,” Yaffa writes with breathtaking arrogance, refusing to entertain the much more likely scenario that the rebel terrorists were responsible for the purported attack. “One unresolved question is whether Russia … got assurances from Syria that it would refrain from using chemical weapons in the future.”

For any person with even a limited amount of critical thinking skills, this cannot be considered objective and impartial journalism in any sense of the word. Yet it is a prime example of what Western readers are being force-fed on a daily basis: Assad is guilty of carrying out a chemical attack on innocent civilians, nothing else to look at here, please move along [Thus far, there has been one notable exception to this rule, which has not been picked up by the US media, and never will be. Robert Fisk, a veteran British reporter of the Middle East, traveled to Douma for a first-hand account of the alleged attack for The Independent. After a lengthy fact-finding trip, which included interviews with numerous witnesses and medical staff, Fisk revealed what so many people had suspected: there was no chemical attack. The event was entirely staged by the notorious White Helmets ‘rescue group’].

Consider the way UK broadcaster Sky News cut short Major-General Jonathan Shaw, a formerly high-ranking British Army officer, as he attempted to question what motive Bashar Assad would have had in carrying out a gas attack at this crucial juncture.

“The debate that seems to be missing from this is… What possible motive could have triggered Syria to launch this chemical attack at this time in this place?” Shaw ventured to ask. “The Syrians are winning, don’t take my word for it, take the American military’s word for it.”

At that point, the interview was quickly terminated for a commercial break. Needless to say, Sky News and other Western media won’t be inviting Shaw back for his expert analysis anytime in the near future.

As if this even needs to be said, the function of the media is not to parrot the government line, but to challenge it every step of the way – and even more so when the consequences of failing to do so could result in the outbreak of a major conflict, possibly even World War III. Apparently that is a risk the useful idiots of the Western mainstream media are willing to take.

In reality, to call these journalists ‘useful’ would be an exaggeration, because they are actually not being very useful at all. By dutifully refusing to consider, even in passing, other alternatives in Syria they have betrayed their allegiances, which is obviously not to the pursuit of truth. To assume your audience is so blissfully ignorant that they cannot imagine other scenarios regarding the chemical attack in Syria for themselves only serves to further alienate the mainstream media monsters from their subscribers. Thus, Western journalists are not ‘useful idiots’ per se; they are simply being idiots.

Incidentally, this explains in a nutshell why the masters of the mainstream media universe are so terribly anxious to silence alternative media voices from the Internet. The existence of dissenting, unscripted voices throws into stark contrast just how biased, prejudiced and undemocratic the Western press has become. Better to manipulate the Internet algorithms than to risk Western audiences hearing voices that challenge the official narrative.

Once again, the ridiculously obvious question needs to be asked since the Western mainstream media refuses to: Why would Assad, who was defeating the rebels on every military front with modern military technologies, resort to the most primitive and egregious form of military methods imaginable, that of chemical weapons? Why would he commit the one act that would undoubtedly bring NATO members into the fray, thereby destroying the results of an 8-year struggle? The short answer is he would not. Not in a million years. However, even if the Western media stubbornly refuses to consider that line of reasoning, it fails to explain why they were unanimously blaming Assad for the attack when experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not yet arrived in Douma to conduct their forensics work. Instead, they cast aside their journalistic duties in favor of serving as mindless cheerleaders for war.

Yaffa took the hysteria a notch higher, however, when he suggested that it was Russia that was behaving like a “madman” in Syria:

“Whether thanks to their successful “madman” routine, or the success of arguments for restraint by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Putin and his generals must be pleased,” Yaffa wrote, apparently disheartened that something worked to put the brakes on full-blown military action in Syria.

“The Russian effort to preemptively terrify the West into limiting its military operations in Syria began last month, when Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s top military officer, warned that Moscow would shoot down missiles fired at Syrian territory—and, what’s more, if Russian forces came under threat, would strike back by targeting launch facilities and platforms,” Yaffa wrote.

Strange that even the prospect of Russia actually proclaiming it would defend itself from an outright attack is deemed the delusional ranting of a “madman.” Such is the position of the Western media as it continues to perpetuate the myth of a Russian bogeyman as it works to undermine peace in favor of yet another regime change operation.

Clearly, alternative voices in the deeply compromised mainstream media jungle are needed now more than ever.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment