By Craig Hastings
I wish I had one more day to submit this column to my editor but, deadlines are controlled by printing schedules that in turn require me to get this done tonight. If I had another day it would be after the election and probably, hopefully, we all would know who the next president will be. The content would be of much more substance than that I have to offer tonight. By the time any of you will read this the votes will have been cast and what I have to say will be of little consequence. So write about something else? Nope, I’ve gotta say what I’m feeling regardless. It’s no secret how I feel about this election and who I’m voting for but, please try to put that aside and absorb what I’m telling you. After fifty plus years, sometimes employed in the newspaper business, sometimes an owner, and always part of a family in the newspaper business, I qualify to comment on the role of responsible reporting. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from prohibiting the press from reporting the news however they see fit to report. To keep news organizations and anyone else for that matter from making slanderous allegations against whoever they choose, news organizations or individuals can be sued for damages in the civil courts. Our laws allow this and rightly so. Another check and balance that has worked well, worked well anyway until social media outlets emerged from the depths of some techno wizards minds. Some of the most influential; Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, and a few others. In the beginning, sixteen years ago, America and the world fell head over heels in love with a new found ability to not only communicate with people instantly all over the world but, they could also send any pictures and documents right along with their instant messaging. The majority of people in America (not me) thought their lives couldn’t be any more grand now that everyone had a direct line to everyone else. No more licking envelopes and stamps to send your barely legible handwritten letters to grandma. Remember being taught cursive writing in school just so to speed up our ability to get our messages out to whoever and wherever, faster?! (Is this being taught anymore)
Congress loved social media platforms so much that they fell for one of the most outrageous con jobs ever pulled! Republicans and Democrats alike bought into a presentation brought before them by the owners/creators of the largest social media outlets. These guys sold Congress on a legislative action that would exempt these social media companies from any lawsuits brought against them. They argued their companies, today multi-billion dollar companies, should not be liable for information posted on their sites that they themselves didn’t create nor post. They argued that their platforms were simply a means for everyone, regardless of religious or political beliefs, to present their own views, arguments, and theories of how our world and everyone on it should behave. Sometimes embarrassing pictures accompanied these posts. Harmless enough right? Harmless unless and up until the time the owners/operators of these social media companies turned their views to color red or blue. And in this presidential election year their true color has shown brightly and that color is blue! These social media companies have grown so big, so powerful, and so influential that not even Congress can control them. They are leaning so far to the left (Democratic/Biden) that they are censoring positive news and information as it pertains to the right (Republican/Trump). Now what to do? The top executives of the top three were hauled before the Senate committee that oversees commerce to answer questions as to their own roles in moderating online speech. As each of these executives were grilled about their policies as to why some online submissions were allowed and others not so much, it became clear that none of the above followed their own policies and procedures. It was apparent to this viewer that the only policy any of them followed was one allowing posts that promoted positive progressive leftist (Democrat) views, removed or ignored negative progressive leftist (Democrat) reporting or opinions, allowed anything negative regarding conservative right (Republican) reporting or opinions, and removed immediately any negative progressive leftist (Democrat) reporting and opinions. In simple words; these guys are all supporters of the Biden agenda and as anti President Trump and his agenda as anyone could be. They’ve become simpleton politicians in their own right. Probably the biggest political scandal story of all time, the Hunter Biden connection to millions of foriegn dollars, and CBS, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC have said nothing! Reported nothing! And the Bidens? They haven’t denied any of it! Are you kidding me?!
So how can Congress right this ship? Strike down section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and never consider such an absolute protection law again, at least not without a legitimate study and debate on the ramifications of such a law. It wasn’t done here. This law shielded these internet companies from libel suits brought by anyone who might argue that they had been slandered and monetarily hurt by another party who posted something about them that could be proven untrue. As it stands today I could post about anything I wanted on Facebook about you for the world to read and you could do nothing to hold Facebook responsible. You could sue me but what is it that’s said about imaginary blood in turnips? In other words, pay to sue all you want, you get nothing and I keep posting because Facebook says it’s okay. This craziness has to stop. In four short years there will be another presidential election and it could be that you and I have zero impact on how that election progresses because Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, along with ocean blue CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and others control every bit of information on the candidates and those same candidate’s policies concerning, trade, military, spending, foreign countries, and those candidates own current and past behaviors. (never forget the Brett Kavanaugh hearings!)
Here’s how I feel about anything posted, printed, etched, stated, colored, painted, or photographed that I have never seen before; it’s new to me so it “news!” And if any of the above might be used to slander or embarrass any of us to a point that we suffer any emotional or monetary damage we should be allowed under our laws to sue whoever designed or drafted any of the above along with whoever or whatever device in which they were presented for the public in general to view and comment. Republicans and Democrats together should see to it by acts of the Congress and approved by the President that any person, any group of people, or any organization, can not control everything and anything informational that might be of the public’s interest to read, view, or consume by omitting or changing the original content of any information submitted for publication or viewing. If they are proven to have committed any of these acts they could be criminally prosecuted and sued in a civil court for damages. If you thought 2020 was one for the books, wait until you see what’s in store for 2021!
(The views and opinions expressed in the submitted columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Journal.)