Will Republicans join Democrats and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) to create a government-sanctioned news media? History indicates a high probability.
In a post on her Instagram account earlier this week, AOC announced that Congress will be looking into the creation of an Orwellian “Minister of Truth” (my words) to combat what she called “misinformation” in the media.
The card-carrying member of Democratic Socialists of America” revealed the plan after a viewer asked her if the Democrat Party was looking into creating any “truth and reconciliation or media literacy initiatives” to help with “healing” the country following the QAnon insurrection on Jan. 6.
“I can say there is absolutely a commission being discussed, but it seems to be more investigatory in style, rather than truth and reconciliation.
“So I think that’s an interesting concept for us to explore, and I do think that several members of Congress — in some of my discussions — have brought up media literacy, because that is part of what happened here and we’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation.
“It’s one thing to have differentiating opinions, but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false,” she continued. “So that’s something that we’re looking into.” (emphasis mine)
For the uninitiated, “Ministry of Truth” (MOT) is a reference to George Orwell’s famed dystopian novel, 1984. The ironically named government agency existed in the fictional land of Oceania, a city suffering under the oppression of big-government control. The MOT exercised full control over the flow of information, and its primary responsibility was the rewriting of newspaper stories to ensure that the published narrative remained aligned with the government’s agenda.
Workers in the “Ministry of Truth” were led to believe they were correcting misquotes. In reality, they are replacing fact with fiction.
Of course, AOC — I’ve written a lot about her Democratic Socialist agenda — provides no details about her government-sanctioned news media plan, nor did she reveal who would be determining what is true and what is false. But I think we know the answer to that one, right?
PSST… It’s the government.
I can already see the Trumpists and the rest of the Republican Party pointing their fingers at me, screaming “I told ya so!” as they remind me that Republicans would have been a “firewall against socialism” if the party had kept its majority, with Mitch McConnell serving as “The Grim Reaper for socialism.”
But to borrow a phrase from Al Gore, here’s a little “inconvenient truth” for the Trumpists and binary voters: Republicans have been ready to create a government-sanctioned press even before AOC left her bartender job to become a member of Congress.
Early in Barack Obama’s second term, it was revealed that the Administration had used intimidation tactics against the Associated Press and FOX News — you know, like Trump’s “Fake News” spiel — which led to demands for laws to “protect” the media from government interference when they report on the government. As we all know, the First Amendment already provides such guarantees, but Washington saw this as the perfect opportunity to “fine tune” the Bill of Rights.
Enter Lindsey Graham and his so-called “Media Shield Bill.” Graham and co-sponsor Chuck Schumer claimed the bill was directed at protecting national-security information and the rights of journalists to protect the identity of their anonymous sources, but in a meeting with reporters to discuss the bill, Graham expressed his true motivations:
“Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves. Is any blogger out there saying anything—do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”
Who is a journalist? Can a blogger say anything? Yeah, I can see how that would be the “issues of our times,” but only if you believe it’s the government’s job to answer those questions.
There were serious adverse implications of the Graham/Schumer legislation; Andrew Ferguson of the now defunct Weekly Standard had this to say at the time:
The act will go a long way toward establishing a government-sanctioned journalistic class. There will be, on the one hand, approved reporters who are immune to certain kinds of governmental inquiry, and, on the other hand, everyone else, those less exalted citizens who, faced with the same governmental inquiry, would just have to suck it up. The act is a classic restraint of trade, protecting favored journalists from the pressure of competitors who lack the proper credential. (emphasis mine)
Government-sanctioned journalists? Special government protections? Second-class treatment for everyone else? Sounds a lot like AOC’s Ministry of Truth to me — only government-sanctioned news media providing approved information, censorship of everything else, and prosecution for those who refuse to play along.
During the Trump administration — with a Republican majority in the Senate — Section 230 “reform” has been used as leverage to grant government full control over internet content, where those pesky bloggers Graham is so concerned about exercise their free speech rights.
Back in March, Graham introduced the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act, a bill that gives the federal government complete authority to grant or deny Section 230 protection for social media platforms based on their “compliance” with rules established by the government under the bill.
During hearings on the EARN IT Act with attorneys representing the Internet Association, Graham made his desire to silence internet speech clear when he threatened industry leaders with additional legislation that would completely strip them of Section 230 protection if they continued to oppose him.
And as we all know, nothing says “this is a good bill” like threatening anyone who opposes it with the hammer and cycle of big government.
AOC assured her Instagram followers that Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech will still exist under the thumb of a Ministry of Truth; only “false” things will be targeted:
“It’s one thing to have differentiating opinions, but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false. So that’s something that we’re looking into.”
If Republicans and AOC succeed, only messages approved by the government-sanctioned news media will be permitted. The government will decide who the “real” journalists are and who is worthy of Constitutional protection.
In other words, every form of media will become a sanctioned arm of the government instead of the independent guardians of the fourth estate. Even the right to do what I am doing right now will be infringed, and the threat of being criminally charged for stepping out of line will be a daily reality.
I know many will object to a Nazi Germany reference, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi Party member who served as Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister. This position gave him total control over all German radio, press, cinema, and theatre. Under his orders, the Nazi government controlled the timing and content of government communications with the German people, censoring any and every message they didn’t approve.
The German people were only allowed to see what the Nazi hierarchy wanted them to see, hear what they wanted them to hear, and read only what the Nazis deemed acceptable.
It’s only my opinion, but I think Joseph Goebbels would love AOC’s Ministry of Truth.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.