What a surprise! YouTube and its parent company Google are rolling out a new policy, just in time for the election. Starting on September 1, YouTube will automatically take down any video that contains information that was obtained through hacking. Take that, Russian hackers! A lot of conservatives are attacking Big Tech (and rightly so), but are we going about it all wrong? Should we be attacking them for suppressing free speech when this is really an argument about a free press?
This is obviously geared toward the 2016 election, when Bernie Sanders supporter Seth Rich may or may not have stolen all the emails off of the DNC server and may or may not have given them to WikiLeaks. As I like to remind everyone, all of the emails on the RNC server were hacked and published online two months prior to the embarrassing DNC email hack. But no one ever talks about the RNC emails, because they were all boring and legal.
The DNC emails, on the other hand, were filled with racist rants about blacks and Hispanics, how Debbie Wasserman-Schultz colluded with Hillary to steal the nomination from Bernie, and John Podesta’s excitement about pre-pubescent girls coming to a hot tub party at his house. It was hugely embarrassing to the Democrat Party. The RNC talked about election strategy and where they wanted to have lunch. The DNC mocked the names of black donors and volunteers and called their Hispanic voter outreach program “Operation Taco Bowl.”
YouTube obviously doesn’t want a repeat of that. In fact, you probably couldn’t talk about the 2016 DNC emails in a YouTube video now, because it would be a violation of their new upcoming policy.
Attacking Big Tech censorship on “free speech” grounds might not be the best way to go about this problem, however. Free speech arguments are more difficult to prove in a court of law than free press arguments. I think it could present a much stronger argument for reforming and/or breaking up Big Tech if we argued that we are all journalists.
In Great Britain in the 1600s, you had to own a printing press in order to get your opinion out to a broad swath of people. You could print out your dissident opinion on whatever Parliament was doing and then go nail your opinion to the door of every local tavern. (This, by the way, was the origin of our American concept of “freedom of the press.”) Everyone would stop by the tavern to see what was going on locally and read these “tavern tracts.” No one would tear them down, even if they vigorously disagreed with them – even if the tracts were pretty much loony.
But the British politicians hated this system. They changed the laws, so you had to buy a license in order own a printing press, which allowed them to ensure that no one was printing tracts that were critical of Parliament. If you were running an unauthorized printing shop in your home, the cops were allowed to break down your door, smash your dissident printing press and arrest you. Problem solved!
You don’t need a license to be a journalist protected by “press freedoms” under the First Amendment. There’s no special Journalism Badge that you wear on your vest which allows you to practice journalism. And that’s the beauty of social media. If you have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, or any other sort of whatchamacallit by which you can communicate your facts, opinions, wild conspiracy theories or onion soup recipes to others, guess what?
You’re a journalist! You’re just not the Fake News kind of journalist – and that infuriates the left.
If the New York Times obtained President Trump’s hacked emails tomorrow, do you think in a million years that YouTube would take down the Times’ channel? Not a chance in hell.
But if you were to talk about the hacked 2016 DNC emails on your personal channel, YouTube is only too happy to act as a 17th-century constable who will kick down your door and smash your printing press. It’s time for prominent conservatives to start calling themselves Real Journalists (as opposed to Fake News, heh!). When they sue YouTube for a civil rights violation, they stand a much better chance of winning a case if they argue that they’re operating under “freedom of the press.”