Opinion

Will America Ever Have Freedom of Information Again?

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Posted: Dec 21, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Will America Ever Have Freedom of Information Again?

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

On a 2018 visit to China, we were enjoying a cruise on the Yangtze River. The only English-speaking channel we could view from our cabin was CNN. When trying to catch up on happenings in America, a reporter transitioned from criticism of President Trump to a negative comment on China’s practices. The screen went blank. I checked the TV, but before I could even discern whether something was wrong with the TV, the coverage returned. China was no longer the focus. There is no freedom of information in China.

We may still have freedom of speech in America, we just may not have the freedom to be heard. I never thought that we would experience suppression of critical information in America—the once home of the free and the brave. But it’s clear that time has come. We may not have blank screens, but some information is dismissed, buried deeply, or eliminated entirely from access by the majority of our citizens.

How could that be? With so much information at our fingertips, more complain about information overload. Cyberspace excess brought one expert to say, “Going on the Internet is like sipping through a straw from a fire hydrant.” But too much information can hide the reality that some information is NOT even available.

For example, the investigation of Hunter Biden’s failure to report over $400K in income from Burisma has been ongoing for years. According to Politico, investigators in Delaware and Washington have been looking into potential money laundering and Biden’s foreign connections.

A New York Post story revealed emails and information about the irregularities and growing evidence, but the mainline media dismissed such evidence as a partisan distraction. Other media outlets just ignored it entirely. It’s clear that ignoring stories and depriving voters of important information prior to an election can have a negative impact on election choices and trust in our media and the election results.

The Media Research Center (MRC), a conservative media watchdog organization, conducted a limited but important survey in seven swing states. The poll found that one in six who voted for Joe Biden would have changed their vote had they known about the Hunter Biden stories that the national media all but ignored.

After the election, the media is reporting on the Hunter Biden tax investigation and his questionable influence peddling. No wonder trust in the media is so low. More to the point, the failure of the media to cover the story gave Joe Biden a clear advantage in the November election. The failure to cover a legitimate story is the American equivalent of a screen blackout in China. Now that Joe Biden will be taking office the chances that anyone in his family will be held accountable are seriously decreased. 

Senator Ron Johnson claims, “Senator Grassley and I released our report (on concerns about Hunter Biden) trying to warn the American public well before the election, but the news media suppressed it, censored it, and didn’t even let the people know. The news media and social media had far greater influence on this election. This was their candidate. They got him elected because of their censorship and suppression of the news.”

One cannot ignore the role of social media in the suppression of important information. President Trump and his administration have claimed that they have been censored and harassed by Facebook and their so called “fact checkers.” Indeed there is evidence that Facebook along with Twitter have been censoring conservatives and libertarians for years. Suits have now been filed and lawsuit protection for social media giants are now under attack.

The Federal Trade Commission isn’t just looking at fining Facebook for their practices, they’re talking about breaking them up to remove the vise-like grip they have on social media and the news market. The Department of Justice also filed anti-trust laws against Facebook last month.

In a recent column, Cal Thomas summed it up nicely, “It's no wonder Trump's base agrees with him that the election was ‘stolen.’ It isn't just about the number of ballots cast, it's about censorship and suppression.”

Even with the hearing by the Senate Homeland Security Committee and numerous filed lawsuits, there may be inadequate time for Trump supporters to substantiate proof of election fraud big enough to reverse the election results. But there is clear evidence that voters did not have the information they deserved to fully evaluate Joe Biden. As for “President-elect Biden,” I join the 82% of self-identifying Trump supporters who on a recent CBS News poll refused to recognize him as the “legitimate winner of the 2020 election.”

For Trump supporters, trust in the media and the election process is all but non-existent. In fact, half of America is mad as hell, and they can’t wait for the mid-term elections to send a strong rejection to a president they do not respect or accept.

Yes, President-elect Joe Biden most likely will take office on January 20th. That makes it even more important that President Trump appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden’s business operations in Ukraine and China, alleged tax issues, and possible involvement of other Biden family members.

President Trump should also do what he can to support removing the legal shield for social media established under Section 230, a 1996 federal law designed to protect the young internet companies from liability. These tech giants no longer need that free pass to continue their partisan actions. It’s time to fight back to restore freedom of information in America.

Terry Paulson is  PhD psychologist, author, and professional speaker on Earned Optimism, Making Change Work, Claiming Your American Dream, and Becoming a Conservative Values Voter. Contact him to speak before your group at terry@terrypaulson.com.