Rex Murphy: A Lesson for Canadians

Rex Murphy: The Hunter Biden story should make us think twice about censorship

There’s a lesson for Canadians in the shocking Twitter Files revelations

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Dec 10, 2022  •  1 day ago  •  4 minute read

You’ve been hearing a lot about misinformation from the present government. And disinformation, which is simply a respelling of the same word brought in by those pushing for censorship (they call it by a different name) to pump up their case that there’s a huge need for government oversight of all online information sources, particularly blogs, independent reporters and independent news agencies.

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I think it is an axiom that the very last authority anybody wants to be deciding what is real or true news, and what is not, is a government. As it is also an axiom, or used to be, that the press and the government exist as opposed categories, that a democratic press in particular has a predominantly oppositional role to state authority.

It questions, tests, investigates and challenges. At least it used to. But that was a distant yesterday. Today the press, or what we may call the institutional or mainline press, is suffering a mighty loss of trust. Many major outlets are seen by the public, and in very many cases should so be seen, as having adopted partisan or ideological roles, reporting only what coincides with owners’ or editors’ or reporters’ own predispositions, party affiliations and personal biases.

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The biggest story in the 2020 presidential race — let me rephrase that, what I think should have been the biggest story — was the New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. The Post had obtained the contents of a forgotten laptop (it was left at a computer repair shop) that appeared to belong to Hunter Biden. It contained much salacious material. If anything comparable had shown up on a laptop belonging to Donald Trump Jr., the story would have been blasted on every television screen in America and treated to 24-hours-a-day coverage on National Public Radio.

The New York Post’s story, however headlined, was not the salacious stuff but the more significant news that — possibly — Hunter Biden had used his father’s influence to enrich himself in foreign business dealings. The online headline went: “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.”

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I have to skip a lot of details here. They are easily found. Now this story was near the end of the presidential election campaign. It had, if confirmed, the power to explode the race. But, almost instantly, it was smothered, ignored by all the big outlets, condemned as likely Russian disinformation. Since then, it is very important to record, the same outlets have verified that much of what the New York Post reported was correct.

The most egregious action was taken by the multibillion-dollar Twitter organization. It disabled the New York Post’s account.

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A useful summary of what was involved comes in a recent column from Douglas Murray: The Post “dared to print information that was of public interest. It was information that exposed corruption on an extraordinary scale in what is now the first family. Not just the president’s son being paid to sit on the board of a Ukrainian energy company when he had no knowledge of energy or Ukraine. But things like the almost $5 million that Hunter and his Uncle James raked in over 14 months from just one Chinese energy conglomerate.”

That’s what Twitter, joined by Facebook, suppressed and actively censored. It closed down a whole newspaper’s feed and labelled it as misinformation — as well as closing down the account of the White House press secretary. And the most smug outlet of all, NPR, at the time, had the gall to publish this prissy dismissal from its public editor: “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”

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Twitter closed down a whole newspaper’s feed and labelled it as misinformation

Need I add that later, much later, well after the election, pious NPR issued a “correction” to an online article that had falsely asserted U.S. intelligence had discredited the laptop story.

Jump ahead to today. Thanks to the Elon Musk takeover, the machinations of Twitter, its manipulations and biases, its patrolling of accounts, its secret monitoring, shadow-banning or full shutdown of conservative viewpoints, is now clear and utterly undeniable. And scandalous in the full sense.

This revelation is itself huge news. It reveals the lie behind the drive to oversee the internet under the guise of protecting the public from misinformation. Because in addition to Twitter doing its own censoring, it also established contact with U.S. government and political actors. It was one big circle. Big government and big tech in collusion.

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And, just to note the obvious: while the New York Post was being censored, you could hunt Canadian outlets — say the CBC — for news and reaction and find nothing. Should it have been Donald Trump Jr. involved, the panels and pundits would still be talking about it. Also, check Canadian outlets today for how much coverage this Twitter scandal gets.

Here’s a clue: when authorities talk about misinformation, they are spreading misinformation. And when the “most transparent administration in Canadian history” (just who was in that $6,000-a-night hotel room? Still waiting …) talks about “protecting the public” from misinformation, well, you have a choice: either laugh or cry.

National Post

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