Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
Apparently, to Michael Gerson of The Washington Post, freedom of speech is a “national weakness.” In his OpEd piece, If Trump’s actions aren’t impeachable, then what is?, the esteemed Mr Gerson claimed that Russian intelligence operations were both likely and unprovably responsible for President Trump’s upset win in 2016, and then wrote:
But the Russians did not succeed by hacking voting machines in the upper Midwest. They saw an opportunity in the rise of social media and the strength of nativism and racism on the American right. They seem to have exploited a national weakness without invalidating the election itself. The Russians really didn’t need to go very far to find a template. In inciting racial and ethnic tensions through obvious propaganda for the benefit of Trump, Russian intelligence was simply following the Fox News business model.
And there you have it: freedom of speech and of the press — if we can call Facebook and Twitter the “press” — allowed Russian spooks to directly communicate with the American public. Mr Gerson, a twice-weekly columnist for the Post, is all for freedom of the press, of course, in that he is part of the credentialed media. Alas! The rise of the internet that Al Gore so irresponsibly invented has robbed the credentialed media of their gatekeeping functions, has taken away their ability to decide what speech does and does not get published and widely disseminated. And thus we had blogs like Powerline and Little Green Footballs exposing CBS News’ efforts to swing the 2004 election to John Kerry by using forged documents to attempt to hurt the younger President Bush. Had that gatekeeping function still existed, John Hinderaker’s observations concerning an easily identifiable forgery — one so easily identifiable that he spotted it in an image over a television screen, yet it eluded CBS News’ examiners — would have circulated amongst his friends, and that’s it. He might have penned a letter to the editor, which might even have been published in his local Minneapolis newspaper, and that’s about it.
But today? Why with Twitter and Facebook, anybody can say anything he wants, and it won’t cost him more than whatever his computer and internet service does, and the editors of the Post can’t stop him. And though we know that they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true, there do appear to be contradictory ‘facts’ presented on social media.
So, what would the credentialed media have? Why, nothing less than the restoration of their gatekeeping functions, to make sure that the plebeians aren’t exposed to anything that the Patricians do not believe to be true, or that they ought to read. What other conclusion can be drawn from a Washington Post columnist telling us that freedom of speech and the press is a “national weakness”?