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Rex Murphy: Twitter should answer for despicable behaviour in suppressing Biden story


When Twitter last week suppressed a New York Post story about Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the whole house of North American journalism should have unanimously blasted the tech giant for its outrageous and blindly partisan attempt to kill the news.

When Twitter just a little later summoned the gall to ban the chief communications officer of the president of the United States, Kayleigh McEnany , that same house of journalism should have fired off a thunderbolt of condemnation. Who or what in hell is vacuous Twitter to ban the White House Press Secretary?

Both Houses of the U.S. Congress — yes both, Republican and Democrat— should have come down on Twitter with a sledgehammer for arrogating to itself what may or may not be spoken or written during a presidential election. (Twitter — working hard to bring 1984 to your home computer.)

Who is Twitter to ban the White House Press Secretary?

Facebook should have faced identical consequences, for it took parallel action on its huge site to suffocate the same story — released via one of the largest and most historic American newspapers — containing serious allegations regarding the character and actions of one of the presidential candidates and his son.

Let me preliminarily put it in clear terms. Regardless of the ultimate accuracy of the New York Post article, and setting aside concerns over how the documents were obtained, Twitter is not the Communist Chinese government and Facebook is not an arm of the North Korean press. Both should mightily strive not to be seen as in any way adopting the tactics of these regimes when it comes to the flow of information and news to its “users.”

It is not for Facebook or Twitter to arrogate to themselves authority to edit, to ban, or to censor the news as determined by journalists; it is not for Facebook or Twitter to imitate the Roman Catholic Church’s days of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or Stalin at the height of his tyranny dictating what people could say, writers could write, and newspapers could publish, or by his command erasing what had previously been written.

The New York Post reported that according to “a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer” dropped off at a repair shop and never retrieved, Hunter Biden had or was pursuing multiple lucrative arrangements with companies in Ukraine and China . The emails from the forgotten laptop raise unavoidable and absolutely crucial questions about political influence.

Ironically, Joe Biden himself — this is separate from the Post story — has presented a full, public account of how he used his vice-presidential status to have Ukraine’s prosecutor-general fired. Its essence was that Biden threatened to cancel a billion-dollar aid grant to Ukraine unless — in six hours — the government first fired the chief prosecutor, in what was seen as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

It is known that Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that Hunter Biden was involved with, was at the time facing a criminal investigation. According to the New York Post, what the emails from the recovered laptop indicate is that Hunter Biden had introduced a top Burisma executive to his father less than a year before the then vice-president influenced the Ukrainian government to fire the prosecutor.

The emails raise unavoidable questions about political influence

Of Joe Biden’s involvement in the chief prosecutor’s firing there is no dispute. Biden cheerfully, eerily to my mind, boasted of it on tape, in a talk to the Council on Foreign Relations. It is readily available on YouTube .

If you would like just the flamboyant triumphant nub of Biden’s brag here it is:

“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.

“Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired.”

There is ordinary cockiness, and there is Joe Biden cockiness.

Twitter and Facebook are throwing out poorly manufactured excuses for their behaviour over the Post story. The plain and unadorned fact is these two Silicon Valley monopolists were weighting the election. They were suppressing news to the advantage of the Democratic candidate. They had no business doing this. Jack Dorsey of Twitter is not some Solon guarding the public ear.

This is an information atrocity. And what makes it even worse is how a huge swathe of the established media have ignored, stonewalled or done everything to discredit the New York Post. Here in Canada, too, CBC and CTV have ridden past this outrage with arrogant aplomb — they would report on a hangnail if it were Trump’s, and perhaps link up with Michael Avenatti for comment.

The behaviour of the news media and the tech companies in this and other instances are deplorable. The news media in particular have so toxic an aversion to Trump that they have abandoned all pretence to real reporting.

They have abandoned all pretence to real reporting

Their justifications are shoddy and pathetic: “Well, Trump is so bad we don’t have to have rules or balance when we report on him. We must protect Biden to save you from Trump.” There was a time when journalists would be ashamed of such derelictions to the codes of fairness and truth.

Big tech doesn’t even bother with an excuse. The pashas of Silicon Valley just think they are superior to everyone and every other institution and are mandated under heaven to do whatever they like. And they are so rich and protected they likely will get away with it.

Most of us already knew Twitter could be pretty disgusting. Knew already of its vulgarity, its meanness, and its Twitter mobs who swarm-attack and cancel individuals and companies.

Now we also know it is false. False to its “ideals” of open communication, non-bias, neutrality.

It has demonstrated hostility to the flow of information in the greatest election in the world. That’s beyond disgusting. It is an insult to democracy, and the people of that democracy.

It is arrogant, it is wrong, and it should be made to answer for its despicable behaviour.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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