A lawsuit in federal court challenging the censorship-industrial complex, as journalist Michael Shellenberger has described it, exposes the government-led information war to censor what Americans think.
One year ago, I joined the states of Missouri and Louisiana and several other co-plaintiffs to file a suit in federal court challenging what journalist Michael Shellenberger has called the censorship-industrial complex. While much of the press cooperated with the state’s censorship efforts and has ignored our court battle, we expect that it will ultimately go to the Supreme Court, setting up Missouri v. Biden to be the most important free speech case of our generation—and arguably, of the past 50 years.
Prior government censorship cases typically involved a state actor unconstitutionally meddling with one publisher, one author, one or two books, a single article. But as we intend to prove in court, the federal government has censored hundreds of thousands of Americans, violating the law on tens of millions of occasions in the last several years. This unprecedented breach was made possible by the wholly novel reach and breadth of the new digital social media landscape.
My co-plaintiffs, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Martin Kulldorff, and I were censored for content related to COVID and public health policy that the government disfavored. Documents we have reviewed on discovery demonstrate that government censorship was far more wide-ranging than previously known, from election integrity and the Hunter Biden laptop story to gender ideology, abortion, monetary policy, the U.S. banking system, the war in Ukraine, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and more. There is hardly a topic of recent public discussion and debate that the U.S. government has not targeted for censorship.
Jacob Seigel, Matt Taibbi, and other investigative reporters have begun to document the anatomy of the censorship leviathan, a tightly interconnected network of federal agencies and private entities receiving public funding—where much of the censorship grunt work is outsourced. The “industrial” in censorship-industrial complex should be understood literally: censorship is now a highly developed industry, complete with career-training institutions in higher education (like Stanford’s Internet Observatory or the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public), full-time job opportunities in industry and government (from the Virality Project and the Election Integrity Partnership to any number of federal agencies engaged in censorship), and insider jargon and euphemisms (like disinformation, misinformation, and “malinformation” which must be debunked and “prebunked”) to render the distasteful work of censorship more palatable to industry insiders.
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Our lawyers were in court last week arguing for a preliminary injunction to halt the activities of the censorship machine while our case is tried. I will spare you a full account of the government’s endless procedural wrangling, obfuscation, attempts to hide, delays, and diversionary tactics in this case—futile efforts to dodge even the most legally straightforward aspects of discovery, such as our request to depose former Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki. So far, the government has been caught hiding discovery materials, which the judge chastised them about before ruling against their motion to dismiss, reminding the government that the limited discovery so far would widen once the case went to trial.
The Federalist reported that University of Texas students are behind a censorship project targeting alternative news outlets.