A New Yorker author bemoans free speech ‘weaponized’ against media UPDATED

Steve Coll is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a chaired professor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. That once meant something. Now, though, journalism has lost its cachet, and no one exemplifies that more than Coll. I say this because Coll openly states that free speech is not about challenging journalists.

If you scan through Coll’s New Yorker portfolio, his articles bear titles such as What Does Trump Get Out of Contesting Biden’s Win? (“The election was not close, and the President’s claims of voter fraud are merely a distraction from his many recent failures”); and The Case For Dumping The Electoral College (“Trump’s Presidency, and the risk that it will recur despite his persistent unpopularity, reflects a deeper malignancy in our Constitution that must be addressed”).

It’s fine for Coll to have a viewpoint. Coll’s problem, as with many so-called “journalists” in America, is the pretense that “journalists” have no viewpoint; that is, that they represent a perfectly neutral, default setting for normative American politics. It’s just that everything to the right of them is evil.

Coll’s bias appears in an interview he did on MSNBC’s Morning Joe about the first listed article (why Trump is fighting the media’s calling the election for Biden). The interview focused on Coll’s statement in his article that Trump’s legacy “is his no-longer-ambiguous disdain for elections and the Constitution.” Remember that: Coll speaks for the Constitution!

In the clip below, the interviewer grappled with the fact that the media is no longer dominated by a few big corporations that “impact things.” The problem, she says, is that, in a fragmented marketplace, companies can’t just “shut everything down by themselves.” Instead, alternative platforms such as Reddit and 4Chan report things the media used to censor.

She asked Coll what he thinks the big platforms such as Facebook “need to do in your view to actually help solve some of this” (with “some of this” referring to free speech unconstrained by corporate media outlets). Coll conceded that the media’s past “homogeneity” “wasn’t all a good thing” and Facebook is a disrupter.

Coll was troubled, though, that Facebook wants to make money and is acting as a kind of public square. “And to expect that it is going to adjust its motivations to preserve democracy or to do the right thing all of the time is just naïve….” Nevertheless, says Coll, referring approvingly to Facebook’s censoring pro-Trump speech, Facebook did “have a better election in 2020 than they did in 2016.”

Coll opposes Zuckerberg’s “profound support” for free speech. Says Coll, “those of us in journalism have to come to terms with the fact that free speech, a principle that we hold sacred, is being weaponized against the principles of journalism.”

Let’s unpack that. Facebook spent months censoring conservative thought. For Coll and his fellow “journalists,” though, that wasn’t enough. For him, any challenge to a journalist’s speech violates Constitutional principles about free speech. That is an Orwellian anti-definition of free speech.

It’s not just Coll. A friend sent me comments from his local California NextDoor feed. People were commenting about NPR’s piece about Parler, a site that dares to post unmediated, uncensored speech. Innumerable comments show the same Orwellian view Coll advances -- free speech, as opposed to curated, censored, controlled speech, is a sure sign of fascism:

“We must be very aware to curtail the current Nazi movement in the USA.”

“Iʼm glad NPR ran this. Itʼs important to know about the dangers that threaten democracy and encourage fascism.”

“As long as the FBI and CIA monitor the site for domestic terrorists, Iʼm totally good  with all the Q-Trumpers sequestered and echoing their tropes outside of general  public view.” [John Brennan to the contrary, the CIA’s not supposed to be doing that – and just when did leftists decided government police are the good guys?]

“Dan, I believe they chose the French term because they closely identify with the French Collaborators who helped the Nazis dominate Europe.”

The party that stands for statism, thought control, and censorship, insists that any speech that challenges their ideas isn’t free at all, it’s fascism. Only pre-approved leftist views can be freely stated, making them “free speech.”

Orwell would weep because as the poster says, he wrote his book as a warning, not an instruction manual.

UPDATE: Apropos Steve Coll's delusional claim that Mark Zuckerberg has a profound respect for free speech, I received the following from a reader today:

Image: George Orwell on the BBC, edited in Pixlr. Public Domain.

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