There Were No Calls for Censorship Against Democrats for Their False Claims About the 2016 Election

Democrats have pressured social media to take down posts that question the 2020 election, but no such pressure was exerted on Democrats who questioned the 2016 election, writes Joe Lauria.

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO (Wikimedia Commons)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The Democratic Party has pressured social media companies to enter into a highly risky endeavor that is bound to reverberate against the party’s interests. 

With the leverage of regulating the social media giants, Democrats have browbeaten the chief executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google (which owns YouTube) to remove any post that questions the legitimacy of the 2020 election. As journalist Glenn Greenwald has shown, the pressure goes beyond getting private sector proxies to do what the government is forbidden to do:  censor communications.

Greenwald cited case law to bolster the argument that Democratic members of Congress are actually violating the First Amendment by doing so. Democrats have grown so bold as to maneuver to get cable television providers to remove Fox News from their channels, the way social media has already banned masses of people.

Consortium News became embroiled in this controversy when Google’s YouTube deleted an episode of CN Live! last week for supposedly breaching YouTube’s policy against “scam, deception and spam.”  The policy reads:

“Content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S. 2020 presidential election is not allowed on YouTube.”

But the banned CN Live! episode was about the Jan. 5 Georgia election runoffs, not the Nov. 3 presidential election. It was also about voter suppression not election fraud, errors or glitches, which YouTube may or may not have understood. 

YouTube gave Consortium News a “warning” about this video on Feb. 21 and said if we violated the policy again it would cast a strike against us. Three days later, during which Consortium News posted no new videos to its YouTube Channel, the warning was inexplicably turned into a strike. With three strikes CN Live! could be kicked off YouTube, with its massive reach. After YouTube rejected CN‘s 800-character limited appeal, there is no longer any way to communicate directly with them. 

The banned video, which featured journalist Greg Palast, was highly critical of Republican practices of suppressing the vote, that is, putting numerous obstacles in the way of black and other ethnic minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic. YouTube’s action against Palast and Consortium News actually benefits Republicans and hurts Democrats’ interests. 

Though more than 60 lawsuits were thrown out and there is no evidence the election was stolen from Trump, shutting down speech about it is another matter. If all lies, deceptions or false claims were banned, hardly a politician in the nation would be permitted to speak.

No Russiagate Ban

The Consortium News case is a perfect example of why censorship is never a good idea because it will eventually come back at you.

The hypocrisy of the Democrats is underscored by the fact that they and their media allies spent four years questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election with false claims and no one called for censorship against them.

Consortium News founder Robert Parry (and other CN writers), Greenwald, Aaron Maté and other bold journalists did tremendous work unpacking the lies and deceptions of Russiagate.  But none ever called for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, other demagogic TV personalities, or anyone on social media to be censored or banned for spreading falsehoods.

The deception of Russiagate was ultimately exposed for good by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Shawn Henry, head of CrowdStrike, the private firm the Democrats hired to examine its servers, while keeping the FBI away.

Mueller and Henry debunked the two core issues of Russiagate: a conspiracy (or collusion) with Russia and a Russian hack of Democratic computers.

Despite four years and counting of Democratic Party propaganda about Trump conspiring with Russia to steal the 2016 election, a $32 million, 22-month investigation by Mueller found no evidence of any conspiracy.

Henry declared under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that no evidence of a hack was discovered.

Despite this, the Russiagate saga is still believed by millions of Americans, bolstered by Congressional studies that relied on intelligence briefings.  Mueller and Henry were legally obliged to tell the truth. Intelligence agencies aren’t.

Yet no one, including Republican politicians or media, ever called for Russiagaters to be censored. Instead the Russigaters engaged in censorship against those debunking it.

How Russia-gate Rationalized Censorship

The Democrats need to be stopped, to save themselves from themselves and to preserve the principle of free speech, though it may already be too late to stop what they have unleashed.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

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30 comments for “There Were No Calls for Censorship Against Democrats for Their False Claims About the 2016 Election

  1. Zhu
    March 3, 2021 at 00:13

    Are there no Open Source alternatives to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.? Even outside Open Source world, the US can’t shut down Weixin or LINE.

  2. Carolyn M. Grassi
    March 2, 2021 at 22:53

    Thank you again Joe Lauria for your brave, honest and caring journalist work. I applaud you! Courage!
    with all good wishes,
    Carolyn Grassi

  3. cjonsson1
    March 2, 2021 at 22:27

    Nov 24, 2020
    Whistleblower Worked As Facebook Fact Checker Reveals Sinister Social media Accelerate Great Reset

    From Last Man On Earth

    hXXps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGDEX_s-0kY&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1X2MaMc1X7zzewfZNonCJhRYPeR1vCXY8LCvoc1Rp8cgVP31mnBYkrqw8

  4. CuriousNC
    March 2, 2021 at 20:47

    The Democrats succeeded because their smear campaign began within the Obama administration. The intelligence assessment regarding Russian Collusion gave Russiagate an air of legitimacy. Then Obama era deep state officials became authoritative sources within the media. Trump on the other hand had himself and other misfits but they were outside of government. Trump’s incompetence was his downfall. The deep state stooges Trump left in and put in his administration wouldn’t cook up a conspiracy for him like Obama did for Hillary.

    Ever since Republican media accused Obama of being a Muslim and not a US citizen the corporate media has learned that it can decouple people’s partisan beliefs from reality. The Democrats did it better. It is possible a future Republican president can figure out this script, and put out an NIE saying that Democrat politicians, and their voters are in bed with China. That’ll go good with the new domestic terror laws that they want to implement.

  5. Mark Thomason
    March 2, 2021 at 17:50

    We had four years of Democrats rejecting the 2016 Election and the voters who failed to worship Hillary. It never stopped. It never had the slightest pushback.

    Why? Because the attack on Trump drove media clicks as much as the campaign of Trump had driven them. It was all about the money.

  6. March 2, 2021 at 10:02

    Joe, it’s never too late. Please keep trying.

  7. DW Bartoo
    March 2, 2021 at 09:35

    “The Democrats need to be stopped, to save themselves from themselves …

    Perhaps, the Democrats are, deservedly, quite beyond redemption?

    Whatever harm the Democrats do themselves pales into bland narcissism when compared to the harm which they and the other wing of the war and money party have, together, done this nation and the rest of the human race, to life itself and the planet’s capacity to support life, especially since WW II.

    The duopoly deserve to die.

    To be relegated to the dustbin of history, if they do not first precipitate, by design or accident, a nuclear confrontation in a fit of petulance should their “might is right” addiction to wealth and power is threatened.

    Both wings, R and D, Red and Blue,harken only to the “donor class”, corporate, military, financial, and the “intelligence” apparatus.

    Best we allow the duopoly to discredit itself utterly, that the many may know, beyond doubt, the truth of things.

    The empire is breaking apart and money has no allegiance to society or even to nation, only to economic and military might, the people be damned.

    Let the kabuki rage on.

    The Rule of Law was long ago made farce.

    Civil Society long ago gutted.

    • March 2, 2021 at 11:37

      True. Why would anyone want to save the Democratic Party? It is only useful as a smokescreen to brainwash the public into thinking there is a force in government that represents our interests. There isn’t! It couldn’t be more obvious. Flush them all down the toilet where they belong.

    • Anne
      March 2, 2021 at 11:39

      Yes, DWBartoo – totally. And may this bloodythirsty, rapacious empire fall…the sooner the better for everyone’s sake (well, perhaps not the shareholders’ of Raytheon, Boeing etc – but then, they deserve to be impoverished)…

  8. John R
    March 2, 2021 at 08:22

    Over the past 20-years or so, I have experienced the same unwillingness from my Democrat friends, to shine light on the dirty deeds of their Party. I don’t bother trying any more because they can get nasty and angry – it’s not worth my effort. Thanks for your comment.

    • Carolyn M. Grassi
      March 2, 2021 at 23:04

      Yes John, I know what you mean…Same experience with my Dem friends. Both Freud and Carl Jung warned about projecting the evil outside oneself or society on to a scapegoat ….which will collapse…eventually, as it did when Trump as , banned and out of the picture….then another target of evil is needed, sadly the shadow is now turned towards almost half Americana i.e. those who voted for Trump. Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents is apt for today or anytime. He says those who impose and tout their way/values as the best etc. cause harm/suffering to individuals but have the inflated satisfaction of feeling superior to others. Carolyn Grassi, SF Bay area

  9. susan mullen
    March 2, 2021 at 01:45

    This is happening mainly because the Republican Party has no desire to be an opposition party to Democrats. The US has no checks and balances. As your article notes, GOP has been silent when it mattered most. US is now a dictatorship simply because there was nothing stopping it from being one. What’s happening now has been building for decades but exploded in recent years, because they said, heck with it, let’s just do it. Republican and R-leaning Ind. voters have had no party behind them for decades. The GOP has never hidden its hatred for us, so is thrilled that conservative and non-conforming views are silenced. The GOP has the same agenda as Democrats starting with open borders, endless illegal foreign “wars,” and criminal seizure and occupation of one third of Syria. As such, they prefer to be in the minority so voters can’t bother them. Until 1994, Democrats had controlled the House for 40 straight years. In Nov. 2018 pathetic GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan left 38 House races vacant, no GOP candidate on the ballot. Only 3 races lacked Democrats. GOP would also love to end the electoral college: Calif. GOP Chairman Jim Brulte’s resume says, 2011-2013, Promoter, National Popular vote.

  10. robert e williamson jr
    March 1, 2021 at 23:51

    The later it gets in this unsuccessful ruse imposed on US citizens by the faux two party system the more blatant abuses obviously become. This is what we are witnessing here. Biden going through the motions while the government grabs more and more power over the individual. They are all the same until their actions start proving different.

    The misuse of these high tech platforms by the powerful has become a method by which they can foster the chaos.

    The democrats are out of time, to show us something worth watching, and they are clueless.

    I personally refuse to give them any credit for anything other than constructive change. I’m not seeing anything that is a confidence builder here. At the same time I’ll be damned if I have any respect for the republicans or any desire to continue hearing their incessant whining. Especially after they have shown their consummate expertise at living in an alternate universe. Lying, obstructing, what ever to foster the chaos something they seem quite adept at.

    Not much makes any sense here because it’s not supposed to. It is a grand game the Deep State is playing as they wish and winning on all accounts.

    It is getting late in the game for the American experiment in governance and the public has been whip-sawed into a trance evidently by the 1%.

    Whip-sawed; subjected to a double loss, as in when an investor has bought a stock at a high price soon before it declines and then, in order to make good the loss, sells it before it advances.

    The public is lied to, “We are the republicans” / “we are the democrats” and we are here to help you but first we need all THE money. Money they then take to dole out to members of congress and lobbyist. Hell, what could go wrong.

    Question everything for things are not as they appear here in the “Good Ole U.S. of A.! We are being had kids.

    Thanks CN

  11. Lee Sterling
    March 1, 2021 at 18:55

    Well, to quote Bob Somerby over at the Daily Howler, in relation to the spread of misinformation via Facebook, Twitter and Youtube:

    “In many locales, their bogus claims are accepted on face. As a basic matter of basic persuasion, how do we undermine this process?”

    It’s a very important question. Can it even be done?

    How do we keep the internet free and open, without suppressing speech (even though our protections are only guaranteed against government censorship)? A priori, of course, see Eugene Debs.

    CN should take a role in answering this very complicated question.

    Leroy

  12. Jim Thomas
    March 1, 2021 at 17:50

    Joe,

    Thank you for writing this article calling out the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party. The dishonesty of everyone should be called out, regardless of party affiliation. Prior to the Presidential election I offended some friends who are ardent supporters of the Democratic Party for criticizing the media for its shameful censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop information. Prior to even that development, I had voiced my opinion that representatives of this Country had a legitimate reason for investigating the suspicions about Biden’s deals in Ukraine. The known facts did not pass the smell test. In my opinion there should have been a through investigation of those matters. But the Deep State and the Dems did not want that to happen. Trump approached the deal in his usual clumsy and incompetent way, thereby preventing any serious inquiry and giving the Dems enough ammo to accuse him of wrongdoing. I do not support Trump or the Republican Party. However, I am completely fed up with the utter corruption and dishonesty of the Democratic Party and the Deep State.

    • John R
      March 2, 2021 at 08:18

      Over the past 20-years or so, I have experienced the same unwillingness from my Democrat friends, to shine light on the dirty deeds of their Party. I don’t bother trying any more because they can get nasty and angry – it’s not worth my effort. Thanks for your comment.

    • Anne
      March 2, 2021 at 11:34

      Ta muchly Jim…and Biden himself Admitted to his deals in Ukraine – on video – but apparently when the Dems do it, it’s OK. And they boast about it.

      One has to recall that the CIA came into being under a Dem…Truman. And that the FBI became the Fed BI (before WWII it was the BI) and did so under J Edgar Hoover – charming chap. (I jest.)

  13. DH Fabian
    March 1, 2021 at 17:11

    Thank you. The story behind the start of Russiagate actually began with the Clintons’ business interests in Ukraine/Putin’s disinterest in bowing down to the Clintons. Upon their 2016 defeat, it became a useful tool in the Democrats’ efforts to overturn the election. Ironically, in spite of much voter opposition to the Dem right wing, Trump was so alarming that Clinton got the most votes. Trump, however, got the most electoral votes, so he became president. Democrats counted on the ignorance of their general voting base to keep their Russiagate scheme going ever since. Now they need to explain just why Russia stole the election for Biden this time.

    • Anne
      March 2, 2021 at 11:36

      Indeed!! I take it that you are being sarky! But really…how true, if Russia is so busy poking around in our business (it has enough of its own to deal with – but hey…)

    • March 2, 2021 at 11:43

      Good one!

  14. rosemerry
    March 1, 2021 at 16:28

    I also am not American, but follow the events. From the time Obama lame duck started tossing out foreign diplomats and seizing their property, through all the protestations and “pussy hats” fanfare, the support of the UK in its year of “novichok”, Skripals and wicked Russkie attacks on our values, to the shameful dismissal of any talks with Russia or North Korea (two of the few beneficial efforts made by Trump) it was just a media fury with no attempt at corroboration of facts.
    Once Biden (inexplicably to me on every possible ground!!!)won the right against poor Bernie to be the candidate for POTUS, all possible truthful evidence against him was miraculously removed and he won (perhaps by God’s will??!!)

    • DH Fabian
      March 1, 2021 at 17:36

      Agree. But on one point that today’s US liberals won’t touch: Sen. Sanders had long been a champion for the “masses,” correctly pointing to US poverty as proof of the failures of our capitalist system. For years, he claimed to support democratic socialism, and as such, he called for strengthening our former welfare aid/job training programs. The Democrat Party took a solid right turn in the 1990s, ending basic relief for the jobless/many who can’t work. Liberals shrugged, and launched a pep rally for the middle class. Sen. Sanders adjusted accordingly. By 2016, he campaigned to the middle class (reframed that year as “working class,” in a country that had already lost over 6 million mfg. jobs alone) for the Democrat Party nomination. He had picked up some middle class support, but had lost much of his former base.

      • Mark J Oetting
        March 2, 2021 at 09:32

        One thing the intelligence deep state stated during the primary was that Russia was interfering in the election on behalf of Bernie Sanders. Bernie should have vociferously rejected this lie but instead denounced Russia. This certainly did not help his cause. Again he is being ignored and has no influence in Congress as has been the case after 2016.

      • Anne
        March 2, 2021 at 11:30

        Yes to you DHF and Rosemerry…Indeed in a country where the so-called much (!?) vaunted “democracy” has only a single, Janus party, fully corrupted (by all of those Lobbying groups, Donors) politicos (many of whom belong well in the nicely millionaire class), where the Fed politicos can be life long recipients of lower income tax funded salaries and good medical insurance/care it is, dreadfully, not at all surprising that those with the power (i.e. $$$$) insisted that the compunctionless poodle Biden – and then the equally so Harris – be the chosen pair.

        I would argue, though DHF, that the Democrat party has never been more than the slightly less ugly appearing party, the other side of the same Mammon-Moloch worshiping coin. FDR ONLY instituted such as Medicare and Social Security in order to Save Capitalism. And when he instituted these programs and others in aid of the lower classes, African Americans were NOT included as beneficiaries of the largesse – perhaps because he felt he had to get the Southern Dems on board (they were the blatant racists of the time); perhaps also because he too was less than willing to recognize full equality between Americans of different hued skin tones.

        The Hypocrisy of the Dems was – and still is – beyond comprehension given their totally fabricated “Russia Did It” charade…And they will not let that go. NPR (and the Beeb) carry on, in one fabrication against Russia, and specifically Prez Putin, after the other, the latest of course being the extraordinarily tall tale re Navalny (reflection of the Skripal fantasies). These two (and likely the rest of the MSM) will NOT admit that any of the crapola were lies, fabrications, not even mistakes…no they repeat, rinse and repeat… And they (pretend) to wonder why many refuse to accept what the MSM/Govt tells them…

  15. March 1, 2021 at 16:18

    I have to say I am a bit lost in this as I clearly don’t have all the facts; and they don’t appear to be presented here.

    Having said that, I am sympathetic to CN’s cause, and I see no reason why YouTube did what it did, and I disapprove of their having done so. However, Their action is not a violation of the first amendment. The first amendment only guarantees your right to speak freely (with some limitations). It does not guarantee the right to have your speech published, repeated, posted or amplified by someone else. If you can do that on your own, fine, but you can’t force someone else to do it. Their right of refusal to spread your speech is equally sacred as your right to speak.

    The guarantee of a loudspeaker is not included in the guarantee to speak freely.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      March 1, 2021 at 16:37

      What you are describing is a publication, which YouTube is not. It is a social media platform which accepts whatever its users post without liability. It doesn’t make editorial judgements before publication as a publication does.It doesn’t have the capacity to do that. It is acting on political pressure from one party to stifle speech, and as Greenwald argued, even though it is a private company, acting on behalf of the government it can be found to be violating the First Amendment.

  16. Dave
    March 1, 2021 at 16:08

    Take what YouTube offers in nonpolitical cultural context…assuming it is free of charge and devoid of advertisements. Otherwise, simply ignore the political derangements it tries to impose upon us. Don’t engage in futile battles in which the odds are stacked against you. Pick and choose your battles against monopoly, mega-capitalist media. Don’t waste time and energy.

  17. evelync
    March 1, 2021 at 16:08

    “The hypocrisy of the Democrats is underscored by the fact that they and their media allies spent four years questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election with false claims and no one called for censorship against them.”

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    If the Dems are serious about wooing the 72 million who voted for the other guy they will face the painful step to break the tie to the Clinton excuses for her loss and come clean on their own failures to earn the trust of the millions hurt by the GOP and DNC neoliberal agenda (trade/finance/war/justice/immigration/energy/climate/etc). They will accept their failures to frame the issues & craft policies to be meaningful to average working people and those left behind. They will prove they understand how all these issues are interconnected in a way that they must be crafted to work together to achieve common goals. And accept that tilting the playing field to benefit their big donors is a losing game not only for elections but for the climate crisis and the risk of nuclear war.

  18. jaycee
    March 1, 2021 at 13:06

    I think it is already too late. Partisan loopiness rules the day, and either side is convinced an epochal struggle is underway -to defeat “fascism” if you are Democrat, to defeat “socialism” if one is Republican – and all methods, including speech suppression, must be engaged. Further, either side believes “normality” (i.e. what passes for contemporary constitutional norms) will be reinstated just as soon as the malign entities are defused.

    I’m not American, I don’t know how to explain what has happened, but the election of Trump in 2016 seemed to implode the concepts of consensus reality and objective analysis, and perhaps mortally wound the Republic.

    • forceOfHabit
      March 1, 2021 at 18:10

      Trump is/was a symptom, not the disease.

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