from the the-hypocrite's-hypocrite dept
Rep. Jim Jordan is at it again. You’ll recall that Jordan ignored subpoenas from the January 6th Committee and was referred to the House Ethics Committee for his failure to respond to those subpoenas. Of course, since being handed the keys to the brand new (created just for him) “Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Government,” Jordan has been furiously flinging spurious subpoenas left and right, and then threatening contempt proceedings for anyone who ignores them.
As we’ve highlighted in the past, nearly everything that Jordan accuses others of doing, and which he insists his committee is there to stop… he is actually doing himself (while those he accuses of “weaponizing the government” are not, in fact, doing that at all).
It is the absolute worst of the worst in terms of not just unadulterated hypocrisy, but doing so in a manner that unconstitutionally silences the speech.
The Washington Post has the latest details on how Jordan and his committee are threatening academics for the crime of researching disinformation.
Last week, Jordan (Ohio) threatened legal action against Stanford University, home to the Stanford Internet Observatory, for not complying fully with his records requests. The university turned over its scholars’ communications with government officials and big social media platforms but is holding back records of some disinformation complaints. Stanford told The Washington Post that it omitted internal records, some filed by students. The university is negotiating for limited interviews.
The push caps years of pressure from conservative activists who have harangued such academics online and in person and filed open-records requests to obtain the correspondence of those working at public universities. The researchers who have been targeted study the online spread of disinformation, including falsehoods that have been accelerated by former president and candidate Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. Jordan has argued that content removals urged by some in the government have suppressed legitimate theories on vaccine risks and the covid-19 origins as well as news stories wrongly suspected of being part of foreign disinformation campaigns.
Basically all of this is premised on the blatantly false claim that there is some “censorship industrial complex” in which researchers, government institutions, and social media companies are working together in a grand cork board conspiracy to silence conservatives. Literally none of that is true, as Twitter itself admitted in court just recently.
Part of the issue is that folks who are deep into the conspiracy theory world simply can’t comprehend that anyone would study disinformation for academic reasons, and they insist that it must be part of a secret plan to “censor” people. The truth, of course, is that while the academics in this field are trying to understand how misleading information flows, and also how it impacts beliefs and action (if at all!), it’s pretty rare to find “disinformation” researchers who think that “censorship” is an effective way of stopping the flows of information.
But, the conspiracy theory must be fed, and the repeated lies about the “censorship industrial complex” needs a villain… and Jordan has focused his attention on these academics. And, in the process, he is literally weaponizing the power he has as a government officials to chill speech and actually push people away from studying disinformation flows.
The pressure has forced some researchers to change their approach or step back, even as disinformation is rising ahead of the 2024 election. As artificial intelligence makes deception easier and platforms relax their rules on political hoaxes, industry veterans say they fear that young scholars will avoid studying disinformation.
Even if you worry that “disinformation” is often misclassified, you should still want the space to be studied, because that’s how we learn whether or not “disinformation” is actually a problem. I’ve long had my doubts about how effective disinformation actually is in changing minds or behavior, but I still want it studied. And Jordan’s weaponization of his Congressional subcommittee is making that much harder.
And, of course, that’s a large part of the goal. It’s become quite clear that the Jordan wing of the GOP (which has now become the core of the GOP, rather than the fringe it once was) has decided that the only way they can win elections is through blatant lies, propaganda, and nonsense, and therefore they need to suppress anyone who calls out their bullshit.
So, things like this are particularly laughable:
“Whether directly or indirectly, a government-approved or-facilitated censorship regime is a grave threat to the First Amendment and American civil liberties,” Jordan wrote.
The only one leading to censorship here is you. The “grave threat to the First Amendment and American civil liberties” is your stupid attempt to bring back a no frills McCarthy-style congressional committee designed to intimidate people into silence.
The hypocrisy is so loud and so stupid:
Jordan spokesman Russell Dye argued that the multitude of requests will build on evidence that shows an organized effort to tamp down conservative speech online. “The committee is working hard to get to the bottom of this censorship to protect First Amendment rights for all Americans,” he said.
The censorship and First Amendment violations are coming from you, dude.