Court Orders Biden Admin To Produce Records Over Alleged Censorship Coordination With Tech Companies

Court Orders Biden Admin To Produce Records Over Alleged Censorship Coordination With Tech Companies

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Tuesday afternoon that his state’s joint lawsuit with Louisiana against the Biden administration over alleged censorship coordination with social media companies scored a major victory this week as the administration was ordered to turn over records from key officials.

“In our lawsuit against the Biden Admin for colluding with social media companies to censor speech, the Court just ordered DOJ to produce records from key WH & HHS officials like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the WH Press Secretary [Karine Jean-Pierre], and others,” Schmitt tweeted.

🚨BREAKING: In our lawsuit against the Biden Admin for colluding with social media companies to censor speech, the Court just ordered DOJ to produce records from key WH & HHS officials like Dr. Fauci, the WH Press Secretary, and others.

— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) September 6, 2022

“This Court believes Plaintiffs are entitled to external communications by Karine Jean-Pierre and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci in their capacities as White House Press Secretary and Chief Medical Advisor to the President to third-party social media platforms,” U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty said in the ruling. “Therefore, Government Defendants Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci shall provide answers to the Plaintiff’s interrogatories and document requests within twenty-one (21) days from the date of this order.”

Doughty also ordered that the Biden administration must produce records from HHS’ deputy assistant secretary for public engagement, the head of HHS’ digital engagement team, the deputy director of the Office of Communications in HRSA, and HHS’ deputy digital director.

“DOJ identified 45 federal officials who have interacted with social media companies on misinformation,” Schmitt wrote on his official government Twitter account. “Beyond DOJ, Meta identified 32 additional federal officials including White House Officials who communicated with them, and YouTube identified 11 federal officials including White House Officials who communicated with them, many of whom were not disclosed by DOJ.”

Schmitt called what the Biden administration was doing “a vast censorship enterprise,” adding, “the American people deserve to see the truth.”

Schmitt then tweeted out examples of records that have been disclosed so far.

A senior FB official sent an email to the Surgeon General stating, “I know our teams met today to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.” This email chain follows the SG’s “misinformation health advisory” in July 2021. pic.twitter.com/PeqglHalRI

— Attorney General Eric Schmitt (@AGEricSchmitt) September 1, 2022

Further communications show that Facebook is “increasing the strength of our demotions for COVID and vaccine-related content that third party fact checkers rate as ‘Partly False’ or ‘Missing Context.’

— Attorney General Eric Schmitt (@AGEricSchmitt) September 1, 2022

There are several instances where Facebook wouldn’t proceed with censoring freedom of speech on their platform until they had input, or a “debunking” from the CDC. Twitter followed the same course in at least one email. pic.twitter.com/7rIId8Unsa

— Attorney General Eric Schmitt (@AGEricSchmitt) September 1, 2022

A White House official was even concerned about parody Fauci accounts and coordinated with Facebook to take them down. pic.twitter.com/e14x6nHOzm

— Attorney General Eric Schmitt (@AGEricSchmitt) September 1, 2022

The Deputy Secretary at Treasury sought to connect with social media platforms and influence operations on social media. pic.twitter.com/i6Wy13dNgK

— Attorney General Eric Schmitt (@AGEricSchmitt) September 1, 2022

Last month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called out Meta, Facebook’s parent company, over its decision to decrease the reach of political content on Facebook, accusing the tech giant of being politically biased.

“Facebook made sure no one saw the Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 election,” the House Republican tweeted. “But now that America has record inflation, rising crime, & a border crisis—all as a result of Dem policies—Facebook is shutting down more ‘political content’ to hide the truth from Americans.”

Facebook made sure no one saw the Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 election.

But now that America has record inflation, rising crime, & a border crisis—all as a result of Dem policies—Facebook is shutting down more “political content” to hide the truth from Americans. pic.twitter.com/RLe1W3ybTb

— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 5, 2022

The company originally announced these changes in February 2021, shortly after Democrat President Joe Biden was inaugurated, saying that it was hoping to decrease political content in news feeds. These changes included moves to “rank political content in people’s feeds using different signals.”

Meta announced in late July, just ahead of the 2022 midterms, that it would be implementing the changes around the world to decrease “political content” in users’ Facebook feeds.

Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.

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