Judge Laurence Silberman
FPI / March 22, 2021
The major media in the U.S. have essentially become the propaganda wing of the Democrat Party, a "dangerous" trend that could usher in the collapse of democracy, a federal appeals court judge said.
“It should be borne in mind that the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news,” Washington, D.C. Circuit Senior Judge Laurence Silberman said on Friday in a dissenting opinion in a libel case.
"One-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy. It may even give rise to countervailing extremism,” Silberman, who was nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, said.
The judge’s comments came in his dissent of a 2-1 decision in a defamation case. In the case, a lawsuit filed by two former Liberian officials against environmental group Global Witness was dismissed.
According to the court’s majority opinion, the former officials failed to prove actual malice in Global Witness’s publishing of a report that falsely suggested the two had accepted bribes in connection with the sale of an oil license.
Silberman suggested overturning the precedent established in the Supreme Court’s landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision, which requires parties filing defamation suits to prove “actual malice” in that a news organization or publisher intentionally reported false information or did so with reckless disregard for the truth.
Silberman argued that the high court’s decision has “increased the power of the media,” and that this power is “now abused” by allowing “the press to cast false aspersion on public figures with near impunity.”
"The First Amendment guarantees a free press to foster a vibrant trade in ideas. But a biased press can distort the marketplace. And when the media has proven its willingness — if not eagerness — to so distort, it is a profound mistake to stand by unjustified legal rules that serve only to enhance the press’ power," Silberman said.
"Although the bias against the Republican Party — not just controversial individuals — is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s," Silberman wrote. "Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by The Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television — network and cable — is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along."
Silberman added that Silicon Valley is filtering news "in ways favorable to the Democratic Party" and fueling censorship, citing the suppression of the New York Post's bombshell reporting on Hunter Biden in the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election.
"It is well-accepted that viewpoint discrimination 'raises the specter that the Government may effectively drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace,' " Silberman said. "But ideological homogeneity in the media — or in the channels of information distribution — risks repressing certain ideas from the public consciousness just as surely as if access were restricted by the government."
Free Press International