On the last day of the “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference hosted by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics (IOP), Chicago Thinker co-founder and Managing Editor Evita Duffy grilled Senator Amy Klobuchar (D., Minnesota) on the seemingly unlimited reach of her bill targeting “misinformation.”
Duffy asked Klobuchar to clarify her proposed bill, the Health Misinformation Act, under which social media companies would be held liable for proliferating user content with “health misinformation” regarding “public health emergencies.” This would be accomplished by selectively stripping platforms of their “provider” privileges under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The definitions of “health misinformation” and “public health emergency” are left to the discretion of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“If I were to say there are only two sexes –male and female – would that be considered misinformation that you think should be banned speech on social media platforms?” asked Duffy.
“I am not going to get into what misinformation–,” Klobuchar began, laughing. She refused to answer Duffy’s question and quickly pivoted to explain that she has proposed two bills for consideration, the Health Misinformation Act and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The latter bill seeks to crack down on potential antitrust and consumer choice violations by “large online platforms” like Facebook.
Klobuchar failed to clarify whether assertions like “there are only two sexes” could be considered “misinformation” under the Health Misinformation Act, or whether she considers this assertion to be factual.
‘Taking back gatekeeping power’
Duffy’s exchange with Klobuchar comes off the heels of her appearance on Fox and Friends this morning, where she discussed how the Thinker effectively transformed the “disinformation” conference into “a national conversation” about the corporate media’s well-documented history of spreading lies.
Duffy implied that the corporate media’s commitment to combating “disinformation” is a disingenuous pretense for consolidating “gatekeeping power.” “What we discovered is that […] event speakers like Anne Applebaum, […] Brian Stelter, and Jonah Goldberg don’t actually care about rooting out disinformation because they talked the whole time about taking back power,” she argued. “They said that they need the corporate, mainstream media to take back the gatekeeping power that they had before social media.”
Duffy also emphasized the danger of giving the government regulatory authority over the algorithms used by social media platforms, a proposal supported by many of the IOP event’s speakers. “Obviously, that is so concerning because we know that what they [the corporate media] consider ‘disinformation’ isn’t actually disinformation – it’s information that’s inconvenient to them.” As evidence, she pointed to their dismissive reporting of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Duffy also praised Thinker writers Daniel Schmidt and Christopher Phillips, who blasted The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum and CNN’s Brian Stelter with questions about the corporate media’s complicity in spreading disinformation.
“All it took was a couple of college kids to get together and turn this entire farce of an event into a national conversation about the corporate media’s disinformation and their bias,” said Duffy.