What the Censorship of ThinkProgress Tells Us

ThinkProgress' Judd Legum

Facebook’s decision to place the neoconservative¬†Weekly Standard on their team of fact-checking organizations has incensed progressives after the progressive outlet ThinkProgress had their dishonest reporting about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh labeled false. After months of praising the censorship and deplatforming of Alex Jones, their tone over censorship has changed; but many are still choosing tribalism over defending the rights of all.

The active complaint lies with the Weekly Standard, a brainchild of Bill Kristol and Bush-era neoconservative, partisan newspaper representing the only conservative fact-checking orgaization alongside four progressive and neoliberal fact-checking organizations for the United States. Despite many cries that organizations like Snopes and Politifact are “nonpartisan,” nothing could be further from the truth; but pointing out the conservative bent of the Weekly Standard seems to be the only means they have of distracting from a pivotal fact in all of this:

ThinkProgress did produce false news, and the Weekly Standard’s assessment was correct.

Does this mean that ThinkProgress should be censored, and have their platform reduced by the 80% figure they cite? Not in the slightest. The starkly biased nature of all the fact-checkers in Facebook’s team speaks to the terribly flawed nature of the censorious program itself; no one, regardless of political leaning, should be given the power to revoke a person’s voice in the public square. This goes for Snopes just as much as it goes for the Weekly Standard. Attempting to dismiss the Weekly Standard’s fact-checking, while ignoring the severely biased results of fact-checks enacted by Snopes and Politifact, reveals the desire to see opposition censored, rather than to protect the press and people of the United States against excessive censorship.

This is not how the discussion should be going. You either stand for freedom of the press for people from InfoWars to ThinkProgress and everyone in between, or you stand for nothing. Anything else is a manipulation of the circumstances for minor tribalistic games which only result in further damage to the stability of the nation as a whole. With violence escalating, the perceived voices of authority must take responsibility for their rights to free press. No one should be vying for the coveted positions of approved censors within Facebook’s corporatist regime: we should be fighting against the very idea of controlled and coerced speech.

Approved censors are still censors, whether they work for an authoritarian government or a corporatist, neoliberal/neoconservative media group.