“Many people have an egg on their face” for denying the theory of a leak from the COVID-19 lab, Jonathan Karl tweeted ABC News this week. “Some things may be true even if Donald Trump said them.”
Or if Arkansas Tom Cotton did. “We still don’t know where the coronavirus came from. It could be a market, a farm, a food company, ”he said in January 2020.“ I would like to point out that Wuhan has the only Biosafety Level 4 superlaboratory in China that works with the world’s deadliest pathogens, including, yes, coronavirus. … “
Cotton never said that he was sure the virus came from a laboratory leak, and never assumed that the leak was intentional. But as a Trump supporter, he was quickly denigrated, according to careful analysis by liberal writer Matthew Iglesias – for promoting “conspiracy theories” (CBS News), “spreading rumors that are easy to refute” (Politico), “repetition of the coronavirus conspiracy. a theory that has already been disproved ”(Washington Post), and“ a repetition of the marginal theory of the origin of the coronavirus ”(New York Times).
In each case, Iglesias notes, the writers misinterpreted what Cotton said. “The media coverage of the laboratory leak was a fiasco,” writes New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, “and the main source of this failure was the cultivation of groupthink on Twitter.”
One editorial position is evidenced by a tweet from the New York Times reporter on COVID-19, Apoorva Mandavilli. “Someday we will stop talking about the laboratory leak theory and may even recognize its racist roots. But, alas, this day is not yet. ” Her suggestion that anti-Asian bias is the only reason to doubt China’s dictatorial and deceptive regime demonstrates the hollow ignorance and vicious fanaticism that the Times leadership seems to value these days.
This bias is old news these days, and the Internet allows readers to look for other sources of information. But one major threat to the free flow of ideas remains: social media, which continually suppresses free speech. The main culprit is Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which has become the most effective free speech constraint in American history.
This is what he brags about. In April 2020, Facebook announces “warnings” of 50 million messages about COVID-19 and adds that 95% of readers are not looking for original content. He boasts that he “reduces the dissemination” of information judged to be “false” by its “fact-checking”.
Rubbish in; debris out. Facebook claims to rely on international and national health agencies like the China-dominated World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control, with its ludicrous demand that summer tourists wear masks this year. Its ranks of reviewers are undoubtedly shifted towards recent graduates from awakened universities, drawn to its headquarters in the non-left-handed San Francisco Bay Area.
As a result, until last week, Facebook suppressed for more than a year – a year in which governments and citizens made tough decisions – information suggesting a very high likelihood of a coronavirus leak from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.
Democratic congressmen are constantly demanding more speech suppression from Facebook. They seem to have no doubt about which side of the Facebook process is.
Despite Facebook’s notorious bans, doubts that China and Facebook insist that Covid came from China’s live animal markets have grown in politically unlikely circles. Among those who are serious about the laboratory leak theory are:
– Nicholson Baker in New York magazine last January.
– Longtime New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade May 2 in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
—A group of 18 biologists called on May 13 for a deeper investigation into the origins of Covid, including the theory of laboratory leaks.
– Former New York Times COVID reporter Donald McNeill May 17 on Substack. You may recall that McNeill was forced out of the paper for repeating a word that insulted a wealthy high school student during a Times-sponsored trip to Peru.
Then, on May 26, the Biden administration announced that it was actively investigating the laboratory leak hypothesis, which means it overturned the termination of the investigation initiated by Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It was only after the business closed east of the Rockies that Facebook burst in (at “3:30 PST”) and announced that it “no longer removes the claim that Covid-19 is man-made or manufactured.”
Thus, for almost 16 months, Facebook has refused to inform readers about a serious theory, the study of which could lead to a decrease in the number of deaths and infections. Great job Facebook!
Facebook was licensed to censor under section 230 of the Telecommunications Act 1996, which was designed to encourage the free flow of information for some time. This is accomplished by freeing websites from liability for the information they transmit or refuse to transmit. Facebook’s behavior is consistent with Liberals’ rejection of its once strong support for free speech, which, as leftist reporter Matt Tybeby writes, “has been abandoned in favor of policies that involve the use of technology and excessive market concentration to stifle discussion about issues. whose topics. “
Case in point: A New York Post article last fall about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, strangled by ridiculously baseless accusations of “Russian disinformation.” Haven’t seen this on Facebook?
The commercial result is that Facebook is taking away the ad dollars that used to go to newspapers, magazines, television and radio. The civic outcome is that Mark Zuckerberg is enjoying what the interwar prime minister Stanley Baldwin said as an aspiration of the lords of the British press: “power without responsibility, the prerogative of a harlot for centuries.”
There is increasing talk among Republicans and Democrats about repealing Section 230 “to make Big Tech take more responsibility for their editorial decisions.” The tech moguls say this will benefit the “small number of giant and well-funded tech companies” that have already taken shape today.
Most likely, they fear that the cancellation, as predicted by leftist economist Dean Baker, will result in reduced profits, as it will require “massive staff effort” to monitor content and nationwide legal staff to prevent trial lawyers from taking billionaires out of the Bay Area in front of local juries. … Another possibility: “a massive move to old message boards and other sites where people can publish what they want without checking.”
Facebook’s records for conspiracy theories are terrible. For years, she has delighted in the media spreading stories of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, “a truly idiotic conspiracy theory,” as Barton Swaim of The Wall Street Journal put it, for which no evidence has emerged. And Facebook for several months happily suppressed any mention of the theory that COVID-19 was the result of a laboratory leak in China. This is zero for two in two huge stories, where both mistakes point to the same political direction. Section 230 was supposed to provide us with a free flow of information, but instead it gave us effective speech suppression.
Cancellation could ruin Facebook’s business model, but from a social standpoint, Facebook’s optimal stock price is 0.
Michael Barone is a senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a longtime co-author of the Almanac of American Politics.