Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has long railed against Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives immunity from liability to internet services on which users post something illegal. But the MRC and other right-wing activists have created the narrataive that social media is deliberately and solely "censoring" conservatives merely for posting conservative things, which has never been proven. Last fall, the MRC cheered the Trump administration's efforts to overhaul Section 230 to counter what Alexander Hall claimed "the unchecked power of Big Tech companies,"even encouraging readers to use "the MRC’s FCC contact form to alter Section 230." It also hailed a Republican-pushed bill to alter Section 230 that would purportedly "provide more accountability for Big Tech companies," uncritially quoting one Republican congressman claiming without evidence that social media is trying to "censor content that deviates from their beliefs."
MRC chief Brent Bozell ranted in a letter to Congress that "Section 230 gives social media platforms, such as Facebook, undeserved protection from liability. Facebook is an ideologically driven publisher of editoralized content that used its dominating market power to deliberately and successively swing the election in favor of its preferred presidential candidate, Joe Biden. ... ... Given their massive market dominance and power, if Facebook’s unfair protection from liability under Section 230 is not severely curtailed, Americans will no longer vote for their elected representatives — Facebook will decide who our political masters are." The MRC's Free Speech America project (which doesn't actually believe in free speech because it's blocked us from following its Twitter account) is demanding that Section 230 be altered in an apparent attempt (based on what the MRC has criticized over the past few months) to allow conservatives to spread false claims -- regarding election fraud and coronavirus conspiracies, whcih the MRC has portrayed as "conservative content" that must not be "censored" -- with impunity. The MRC even gushed over then-President Trump's threat to veto a defense funding bill if it did not completely repeal Section 230; Congress quickly overrode Trump's veto, so it was ultimately a hollow, meaningless effort.
(If you want to find out exactly how the MRC had been lobbying the Trump administration to change Section 230, however, you're somewhat out of luck -- it threw a tantrum at a fellow conservative group for filing a Freedom of Information Act request seeking copies of email communications between the MRC and administration officials, insisting that they are "private.")
But when non-conservatives offer thoughts on Section 230 -- and, worse, point out how bogus the MRC's narrative is -- the MRC melts down over that, as Hall did last October:
Democrat [sic] Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) condemned Trump’s “propaganda parrots” on Fox News and his fellow conservatives for “peddling a myth” at a Big Tech hearing. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation October 28. Markey undermined the core idea of the “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” hearing by suggesting that “anti-conservative bias” at Big Tech is a “false narrative.”
Markey contrasted the problems he considers to be real while gaslighting conservatives that their concerns about Big Tech bias are invalid:
“Here’s the truth, violence and hate speech online are real problems. Anti-conservtive bias is not a problem,” Markey suggested.
When Democrats called for a review of Section 230 following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot -- inflamed in large part by false claims about election fraud promoted on social media by Trump and others -- Kayla Sargent took exception:
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been a hot topic for quite some time, and now, the left appears to be using the liability shield as an excuse to attempt to further regulate free speech online.
Democrats in Congress and the Senate may be placing Section 230 under the microscope following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building.
“Social media continues to be a concern. The amount of radicalization on both ends of the political spectrum done by social media and the so-called Section 230 exemption needs to be reviewed,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Full Court Press.
During the interview, Warner paid lip service to the notion of being pro-First Amendment, while simultaneously arguing that some speech should not be allowed to be amplified.
Ssrgent did seem to be happy, however, that President Biden "told The New York Times Editorial Board that Section 230 should be 'revoked, immediately.'"
Sargent also attacked a Democratic-led attempt to reform Section 230, claiming that "it will do far more harm than good" because it "would cut liability protections for providers on paid-for speech like ads, which could encourage platforms to censor even more content to avoid liability." Sargent repeated the MRC's meaningless narrative that "Twitter censored former President Donald Trump 625 times between May 31, 2018 and January 4, 2021. President Joe Biden was not censored at all during the same time span." As before, Sargent provided no evidence that Biden violated Twitter's terms of service 625 times the way Trump did, thus earning being "censored" by Twitter.
On Feb. 22, the MRC gave its paid apparatchik Dan Gainor a platform to fearmonger that "Every aspect of technology is now being closed off to the conservative movement" -- a claim that's ridiculous on its face.He made this claim at an event hosted by something called the "Repeal and Replace Section 230 Coalition," where he was joined by "congressmen, industry experts and religious figures."
We couldn't find much about this coalition, but it turns out that Gainor's fellow presenters at the eveng included far-right congress woman Marjorie Taylor Greene -- just a couple weeks after the MRC finally denounced her extremism after months of portraying her as a mainstream conservative -- Jim Garlow, a right-wing evangelist who was an aggressive supporter of Trump; Dikran Yacoubian, a conservative activist who got a funder to give $2.5 million to right-wing org True the Vote in an attempt to find election fraud in the presidential election (none was found, so he wants his money back); and Mark Masters, who currently runs the radio syndicator founded by his father, accused cult leader Roy Masters.
These are the people the MRC is hanging out with to push its anti-Section 230 crusade.
UPDATE: Jeffrey also devoted a Feb. 24 column to complaining that the National Endowment for the Arts was getting money from the relief bill: "Did federally funded artists produce any great masterpieces in this period? Did American taxpayers get their money's worth? Should we now use a bill allegedly designed to fight COVID-19 to pay the NEA an additional $135 million?" Apparently, Jeffrey apparently believes that artists weren't affected by the pandemic. He also gratuitously complained that theater group "based in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco congressional district" once got a grant to stage "a groundbreaking trans and queer examination of American masculinity's deep roots in Trouble."