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Top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson appears to have been singled out by the White House just a few months after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to documents unearthed as part of a lawsuit filed by GOP attorneys general.
Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana released a document last week indicating that the administration pressured Facebook to censor Carlson after he declared that the COVID-19 vaccines “don’t work.”
“Since we’ve been on the phone — the top post about vaccines today is [T]ucker Carlson saying they don’t work. Yesterday it was Tomi Lehren [sic] saying she won’t take one,” White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty reportedly said in an April 14, 2021 email, which Landry posted to his Twitter account.
“This is exactly why I want to know what ‘Reduction’ actually looks like — if ‘reduction’ means ‘pumping our most vaccine hesitant audience with [T]ucker Carlson saying it doesn’t work’ then … I’m not sure it’s reduction!” Flaherty continued.
— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) January 6, 2023
Landry and then-Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, now a U.S. senator, sued the Biden administration in May, alleging that officials worked with social media companies to suppress information regarding the 2020 election, the pandemic, and other issues.
A federal court ordered the Biden administration to hand over relevant documents in July.
In response, the unknown Facebook employee said they were “running this down now.”
In a September 2020 post on the show’s Facebook page, Carlson wrote, “Facebook is working hard to make sure you’re unable to see our latest post regarding a coronavirus whistleblower. They don’t want you sharing the video, and they are limiting the number of people who can view it. This is censorship.”
In December, Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Meta, Facebook’s parent company, appearing to threaten potential congressional action if the platform followed Twitter boss Elon Musk’s lead and reduced censorship protocols.
The letter was noted by Georgetown constitutional law professor and attorney Jonathan Turley, who wrote:
With the restoration of free speech protections on Twitter, panic has grown on the left that its control over social media could come to an end. Now, some of the greatest advocates of censorship in Congress are specifically warning Facebook not to follow Twitter in restoring free speech to its platform.
In a chilling letter from Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., André Carson, D-Ind., Kathy Castor, D-Fla., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Facebook was given a not-so-subtle threat that reducing its infamous censorship system will invite congressional action. The letter to Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, is written on congressional stationery “as part of our ongoing oversight efforts.”
With House Republicans pledging to investigate social media censorship when they take control in January, these four Democratic members are trying to force Facebook to “recommit” to censoring opposing views and to make election censorship policies permanent. Otherwise, they suggest, they may be forced to exercise oversight into any move by Facebook to “alter or rollback certain misinformation policies.”
“In addition to demanding that Facebook preserve its bans on figures like former President Donald Trump, they want Facebook to expand its censorship overall because ‘unlike other major social media platforms, Meta’s policies do not prohibit posts that make unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud,'” Turley’s column noted further.
Last month, Republicans in the House vowed to hold hearings into big tech censorship that has been revealed by a number of “Twitter File” dumps facilitated by Musk.
“The #TwitterFiles are revealing more every day about how the government collects, analyzes, and flags your social media content. Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary,” journalist Matt Taibbi revealed. “Between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth… a surprisingly high number are requests by the FBI for Twitter to take action on election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts.”
“[The] FBI has a lot to answer for after the latest drop of Twitter Files 6,” Rep. Mat Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Twitter.
“@Jim_Jordan @RepMikeJohnson @RepAndyBiggsAZ @RepDanBishop and I will be asking the questions. Clear your calendar,” he added.