In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, members of Congress joined a Zoom call with officials from key federal agencies to dicuss how to handle the fallout. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly reportedly wanted to know if the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, or FDIC could censor social media speech that might encourage a run on the banks.
I’m not kidding. A real, live U.S. senator, who allegedly has read the Constitution including the First Amendment, actually said that.
Journalist Michael Shellenberger reported on Monday, “During a conference call about the Silicon Valley Bank bailout yesterday, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) asked representatives from the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation (FDIC) if they had a way to censor information on social media to prevent a run on the banks, according to Republican members of the House of Representatives who were on the call.”
EXCLUSIVE: Senator Mark Kelly Called For Social Media Censorship To Prevent Bank Runs
Democrats are demanding ever-more censorship in a widening social media panichttps://t.co/M0xEK0b2vb
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) March 13, 2023
“The members said there were roughly 200 people on the Zoom call, including Senators, House members, and staff members from both parties,” Shellenberger reported at Public. “On our conference call, led by [Senate President Chuck] Schumer, with Fed, FDIC, and Treasury, a democrat senator asked the three agencies if there was a program underway on social media to censor information that would lead to a bank run,’ Rep. Thomas Massie told Public.”
“I believe he couched it in a concern that foreign actors would be doing this,” said Massie, “but he didn’t suggest the censorship should be limited to foreigners or to things that were untrue. The people from the three agencies couldn’t answer him and just sort of took a pass on the question.”
Democrat Senator suggested last night that government should work with social media companies to censor information that could lead to a run on banks.https://t.co/GIzwL4KRyF
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 13, 2023
There's no better way to cause a run on the banks than to start censoring people warning about a run on the banks.
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) March 13, 2023
I have chronicled at BASEDPolitics how many on the Left have trended away from honoring or protecting some of the most basic civil liberties that Americans have long enjoyed, with free speech being paramount, and the shift has even made some progressives begin to view free speech as a right-wing value.
Kelly’s request was a member of Congress nonchalantly thinking the U.S. government could just censor away. Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi noticed some of the dismissiveness and plain aloofness congressional members displayed about basic constitutional rights during his House committee hearing last week.
“Civil liberties have officially gone out of style, a phenomenon on full display at the Weaponization of Government Hearing at which I just testified,” Taibbi wrote at his Substack ‘Racket.’
“At the hearing, Pee-Wee’s words of the day were clearly cherry-picked, money, and Elon Musk. Nearly every question asked of Michael Shellenberger and me involved our associations or motives,” Taibbi noted.
He continued, “Florida’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said ‘being a Republican witness certainly casts a cloud over your objectivity’ (only a Democratic witness can be trusted), while Dan Goldman tweeted that only someone who signed his version of a loyalty oath — a question about whether or not we ‘agreed’ with Robert Mueller’s two indictments of Russian defendants — can ‘belong’ in the public conversation.”
It is a complicated issue. But if you (and the GOP) won’t accept that 1) Russia interfered in the 2016 election through social media and 2) preventing that is a legitimate goal of the FBI, then you don’t belong in the nuanced convo on the balance between NATSEC and lawful speech. https://t.co/BfIZInqDgb
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) March 11, 2023
This is bats*** stuff. From members of Congress.
Who still completely ignored the actual issue of free speech.
Taibbi observed, “These are behaviors we associated with Republicans in the War on Terror years, when Democrats howled over accusations that John Kerry ‘looks French.’ That the roles have been reversed is old news, but the big question remains: why did this happen?”
Sometimes you really just have to step back and ponder how thoroughly absurd it is that wanting to constrain the surveillance and censorship powers of the FBI is now considered deviously right-wing. Anyone who's like 25 or younger: I promise it wasn't always this way
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 12, 2023
It happened because at the dawn of the Trump era, the Left rapidly came to the conclusion that stopping the spread of “disinformation” or “misinformation” was more important than the freedom to share information. Free speech took a backseat to these guardians of the establishment galaxy, in which the mainstream press, politicians and federal agencies would mold what the public was allowed to express or share. The ongoing Twitter Files have been full of examples of this which is why they have been so villainized by the establishment class.
That this new Left mission was brazenly anti-constitutional and anti-freedom was glossed over by their shellshock over the mere existence of Donald Trump.
So in 2023, a Democratic senator can ask federal agencies to censor without batting an eye. He thinks this is normal. For many in his bubble, it is.
They want a censorship regime. That’s the goal.
As Taibbi wrote, “Making a furious public less visible doesn’t make it go away. Moreover, as we saw at the hearing, clamping down on civil liberties makes obnoxious leaders more conspicuous, not less. Democrats used to understand this, but now they’re betting everything on the blinders they refuse to take off, a plan everyone but them can see won’t end well.”
…For many of us, this week demonstrates the final severing of many House Democrats from both free speech and free press values. What is left is raw rage and politics.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) March 11, 2023