By Ryan Morgan
Tucker Carlson is pictured during the 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in Hollywood, Fla., on Nov. 17, 2022. (Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
We gather the news that is the most important to you. As the most reliable and balanced news service on the internet, Unite America First offers the following information published by Fox News:
Facebook complied with requests from members of President Joe Biden’s White House staff to throttle the reach of a 2021 video by then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson, according to a federal lawsuit, despite Facebook staff assessing that the video did not qualify for removal from the site.
On Tuesday, Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana’s Western District federal court issued an injunction barring various Biden administration officials and government agencies from requesting social media companies to censor or suppress certain content. The injunction comes as attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri are suing the Biden administration, accusing it of government censorship-by-proxy by pressuring social media companies to suppress certain content.
In his ruling (pdf), Mr. Doughty noted several instances of alleged censorship action taken following Biden administration requests, including a video segment Mr. Carlson did about COVID-19 vaccines.
On April 14, 2021, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty emailed Facebook executives demanding the suppression of a video segment by Mr. Carlson in which he questioned their safety and asserted that people who had taken COVID-19 vaccines had sustained injuries and died. Mr. Flaherty also flagged a video by another Fox News host, Tomi Lahren, who said she wouldn’t take a vaccine.
Facebook employee Brian Ross replied to Mr. Flaherty’s notification, stating that Mr. Carlson’s vaccine video did not qualify for removal from the platform. Mr. Flaherty in turn asked for a more detailed explanation of why Facebook had not removed the video.
Then-White House Senior COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt also messaged Facebook executive Nick Clegg about Mr. Carlson’s video on April 14, 2021. According to the judge’s Tuesday ruling, Mr. Slavitt expressed his displeasure that Facebook did not remove the video and said, “Not for nothing but the last time we did this dance, it ended in an insurrection.” Mr. Clegg in turn noted that the video did not qualify for removal.
Despite the video not qualifying for removal, Facebook officials said Mr. Carlson’s video was being “demoted” to reduce its reach. In an April 16, 2021, follow-up, Facebook officials told Mr. Flaherty that the platform gave Mr. Carlson’s video a 50 percent demotion for seven days and stated that it would continue to demote the video despite it not violating the platform’s policies.
NTD News reached out to Facebook and the White House for comments about this case but did not receive a response from either by the time this article was published.
Other Censorship Allegations
In his decision to grant a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration, Mr. Doughty said the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in arguing that Biden administration officials and other government officials caused censorship to occur through significant encouragement and coercion. Mr. Doughty said the government’s communications involving Mr. Carlson’s video and other content bolster the plaintiffs’ case.
“Defendants used meetings and communications with social-media companies to pressure those companies to take down, reduce, and suppress the free speech of American citizens. They flagged posts and provided information on the type of posts they wanted suppressed. They also followed up with directives to the social-media companies to provide them with information as to action the company had taken with regard to the flagged post,” Mr. Doughty wrote. “This seemingly unrelenting pressure by Defendants had the intended result of suppressing millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens.”
On Jan. 23, 2021, three days after the start of the Biden administration, White House COVID Response Digital Director Clarke Humphrey allegedly emailed Twitter and requested the removal of a Twitter post about COVID-19 vaccines by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is now running against Mr. Biden in the Democratic presidential primary.
Mr. Flaherty is also alleged to have participated in this effort to bring down Mr. Kennedy’s tweet, writing an email to Twitter officials that read in part “Hey folks-Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process of having it removed ASAP.”
On Feb. 6, 2021, Mr. Flaherty requested Twitter remove a parody account of one of Mr. Biden’s family members. The request stated, “Cannot stress the degree to which this needs to be resolved immediately,” and, “Please remove this account immediately.”
During an April 21, 2021, meeting with Twitter officials, White House officials allegedly asked the platform why former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson had not been “kicked off” the platform. Mr. Berenson was eventually removed from the platform, but has since been reinstated.
On Nov. 30, 2021, White House staffer Christian Tom contacted Twitter to remove a video of First Lady Jill Biden reading to children at the White House. The video had been edited to sound as though a child in the crowd had begun heckling the first lady.
After Twitter did not remove the video, Mr. Tom asked for the platform to attach a “manipulated media” label to the video. After Twitter officials told Mr. Tom that the video not qualify for such labeling, he disputed Twitter’s interpretation of its policies. Tom and another White House official, Michael LaRosa, allegedly continued to request the video’s removal on Dec. 9, 13, and 17 before it was finally taken down that month.
The Defendants argue that the messages by government officials, along with Biden administration comments about regulating social media companies, had a coercive effect on companies, who complied with censorship requests in order to avoid such regulatory action.
During a May 5, 2021 press conference, then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said “major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation, and misinformation” and Mr. Biden “supports better privacy protections and a robust anti-trust program.” Ms. Psaki added that Mr. Biden feels “there’s more that needs to be done to ensure that this type of misinformation; disinformation; damaging, sometimes life-threatening information is not going out to the American public.”
From NTD News