Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) slammed New York Times editor Sarah Jeong, contending that she and the left “sold out” to Big Tech and that she neglected to mention that her key “expert” is “paid by Google.”
Controversial Times editor Jeong wrote an op-ed Friday, claiming that, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter have no legal obligation to serve as neutral platforms and they can discriminate against political views, including conservative viewpoints.
Jeong also claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz was wrong to say that the “predicate for Section 230 immunity under the CDA is that you’re a neutral public forum.”
“Political neutrality has never been part of C.D.A. 230, and to make it so would require a complete overhaul of the law,” Jeong contended.
Jeong attacked Sen. Hawley’s Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act as caling for “government regulation of the Internet on an unprecedented scale,” comparing it to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Fairness Doctrine.
Despite the Times‘ attack on Hawley’s bill, one recent survey found that a majority of Republicans and Democrats favor the bill and nearly a majority of Democrats back the legislation.
To bolster her argument, Jeong cited Berin Szoka, the president of the libertarian-leaning TechFreedom technology think tank.
Szoka claimed that social media companies allegedly censor Republicans more because their base spreads “hate speech, and fake news, and conspiracy theories, — and what is either incitement to violence.”
Sen. Hawley took to Twitter Friday to lambast Jeong’s op-ed, charging that the Times editor and the left have sold out to Silicon Valley. The Missouri conservative added that Szoka, Jeong’s “expert,” receives donations from Google.
Don’t think the Left has sold out to Big Tech & their big money? Just read. @sarahjeong @nytopinion you might want to mention your key “expert” here is paid by Google. Big time. https://t.co/ORwqaOMSJf
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 26, 2019
The senator also cited a recent NBC News investigation which found that many conservative and libertarian organizations, such as the R Street Institute, TechFreedom, the Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), receive donations from Google. Sen. Hawley has slammed these “supposedly libertarian” tech groups.
Hawley also contended that the left has come to “love” big corporations because many large corporations “agrees with the left” and advance the left’s progressive priorities.
The Left has come to love the corporate C-suite (and not just Big Tech) because the C-suite agrees with the Left and advances the Left’s priorities
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 26, 2019
However, despite Szoka’s claim, many on the left, including the Times’ Jeong, have propagated hateful rhetoric. Other leftists have celebrated and even incited violence.
In 2014, Jeong tweeted several anti-white statements. The former reporter likened “dumbass fucking white people” who share their opinions to “dogs pissing on fire hydrants.”
In another post, Jeong questioned whether “white people” are “genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.”
Jeong also posted another tweet in November 2014 that read, “#CancelWhitePeople.”
Other leftists have celebrated violence and also called to arm far-left activists.
Borat director Larry Charles said this week that the left needs to arm itself against “Maga people,” suggesting that this is “war.”
Shaun King, a columnist at the Intercept, praised the Antifa activist who was killed when he attackied a migrant detention facility in Washington state
“We cannot & should not wait until 2020, w/ the hope that we defeat Trump, to free these children,” King wrote in June. “We should liberate them NOW – by any means necessary.”
Szoka said that both Sens. Cruz and Hawley have distorted the meaning of Section 230.
“They’re smart lawyers. And they absolutely know what they’re talking about is a warping of Section 230,” Szoka said.
However, even Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently agreed that Section 230 gives Google, Facebook, and Twitter a “very excessively broad shield” and legal immunity to moderate their content.
Many experts such as former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless Bureau Chief Fred Campbell contend that Section 230 grants tech companies too much power to censor without significant legal recourse.
“Section 230 overrides the common law and says that these Internet platforms can censor all they want and won’t be accountable for anything — for libel or any other falsehoods,” Campbell said in 2018.
The former FCC chief also said that claiming that amending Section 230 to end Internet censorship does not create a new “Fairness Doctrine.” Campbell said that argument “is a red herring.”
During the White House’s social media summit, Sen. Hawley charged that if social media giants wish to keep their government-granted Section 230 legal immunity, “They shouldn’t discriminate; they shouldn’t censor, they shouldn’t shut us down.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.