A recent conference call involving congressional members from both parties got a little weird after a Democrat senator asked whether the federal government could censor information on social media to prevent a run on US banks. The call, which was held with Biden administration officials (Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and FDIC), was a question-and-answer session covering the recent collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank.
Rep. Thomas Massie first revealed the concerning question immediately after the call, and now, we know who asked it. According to Michael Shellenberger (most recently of Twitter Files fame), it was Sen. Mark Kelly, the recently re-elected Democrat from Arizona.
During a conference call about the Silicon Valley Bank bailout yesterday, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) asked representatives from the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation (FDIC) if they had a way to censor information on social media to prevent a run on the banks, according to Republican members of the House of Representatives who were on the call.
The members said there were roughly 200 people on the Zoom call, including Senators, House members, and staff members from both parties. “On our conference call, led by [Senate President Chuck] Schumer, with Fed, FDIC, and Treasury, a democrat senator asked the three agencies if there was a program underway on social media to censor information that would lead to a bank run,” Rep. Thomas Massie told Public.
“I believe he couched it in a concern that foreign actors would be doing this,” said Massie, “but he didn’t suggest the censorship should be limited to foreigners or to things that were untrue. The people from the three agencies couldn’t answer him and just sort of took a pass on the question.”
Kelly is a former astronaut, so I don’t believe he’s stupid. Still, I’m at a loss as to what he was thinking when he asked that question of the Biden officials on the call. Why would the federal government, under any circumstance, have the ability to directly censor information on social media? Even with the recent revelations of the Twitter Files, the censorship was done by proxy through government pressure.
Massie offered further context, saying that Kelly may have meant his question in the context of foreign actors. But should that matter? If the government can censor information on a whim, even under the guise of pushing back on foreign interference, that is a power that will undoubtedly be abused. We have ample evidence of that given the FBI’s involvement in the censorship of the Hunter Biden story, which was not foreign disinformation.
The Democratic Party’s flirtation with tyranny should concern everyone. It’s no longer just the domain of the fringe. Mainline, even “moderate” Democrats are now suggesting that the government should have total power over online speech, making decisions on censorship without any due process or constitutional authority. That they justify such with yet more rantings about foreign interference only makes it worse. If you can justify censorship of information by blaming American adversaries, then you can justify censorship of just about anything. There is no limiting principle.
Kelly should take a step back and think about what he’s asking for and whether he truly understands the ramifications. Further, Arizonans should seriously contemplate the caliber of the elected officials they’ve been electing recently. Kelly is an empty suit at best, never mind the election of now-Gov. Katie Hobbs. The republic can’t last if the federal government becomes as all-powerful as Democrats obviously want it to become.