A New York Times columnist has begrudgingly admitted that President Donald Trump was right on insisting for the last several months that schools remain open for in-person learning. Trump has stated repeatedly that the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be worse than the disease itself, and in that category is the closing down of the schools. “Some things are true even though President Trump says them,” wrote Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Trump has been demanding for months that schools reopen, and on that he seems to have been largely right,” he continued. “Schools, especially elementary schools, do not appear to have been major sources of coronavirus transmission, and remote learning is proving to be a catastrophe for many low-income children.”
Media & Internet
Several North American news agencies have been receiving large cheques in exchange for publishing Chinese state media propaganda. According to a disclosure filed with the US Justice Department, Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper received $132,046 for a number of advertising campaigns that featured flattering coverage of China. The Globe and Mail first printed a two-page “China Watch” spread in September 2020. Disclaimers at the bottom of the advertisement announced that the content was “produced by the China Daily and distributed in the Globe and Mail.” The China Daily is an English-language media outlet owned by the publicity department of the Chinese Communist Party.
Misinformation about a Covid-19 vaccine and pandemic conspiracy theories continue to thrive on social media. Here’s what we’ve been fact-checking this week. Justin Trudeau and the ‘Great Reset’. We start with the revival of the baseless conspiracy theory, known as the ‘Great Reset’, which claims a group of world leaders orchestrated the pandemic to take control of the global economy. The conspiracy theory has its origins in a genuine plan entitled ‘The Great Reset’, drawn up by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the organisers of an annual conference for high-profile figures from politics and business, The plan explores how countries might recover from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A lot of things worry me about a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration, but nothing troubles me more than that it will accommodate the left’s disturbing march toward selective suppression of free speech. Much of the war against this sacred liberty occurs at the level of our culture, but when a leftist-friendly administration is in power, our efforts to combat this culturally will be more difficult. As a result of structural and technological changes in our society, threats to free speech no longer come from government alone, and so, our constitutional guarantees against encroachments are now inadequate. There has been such a consolidation of power in the media and social media that these two institutions pose a great danger to our speech apart from any state action.
Conservative activist Candace Owens is suing Facebook “fact-checkers” for defamation, the Daily Wire reports. “It is time to fact-check the fact-checkers,” proclaimed Owens. “I’m going to put these suckers through discovery and figure out what the relationship is that they have with Facebook.” Owens said that she decided to launch the lawsuit after her views on coronavirus were “fact-checked” on Facebook, despite her claim that the viewpoint was shared by doctors. According to Owens, this fact-checking led to her Facebook page being demonetized, a fact which improves the prospects of her case significantly. While defamation laws vary by state, evidence of damages is generally required for a defamation suit to succeed, whereas in many other countries defamation only requires a false claim to have been made.
In April 2020, the Trudeau government showered over 670 magazines and other periodicals with $85 million in taxpayer funding, government data shows. The funding was distributed by the Department of Canadian Heritage as part of the 2020-2021 Canada Periodical Fund. The two individual publications that netted the highest valued grants include Canadian Living which and TV Hebdo which both received $1.87 million each. The two outlets are currently owned by TVA Publications INC. When added together, TVA’s various print publications received a whopping $11.34 million from the federal government. Meanwhile, the popular news magazine Maclean’s, which is edited by Liberal minister Catherine McKenna’s husband Scott Gilmore, received $1,565,498 from the Liberals on April 1.
Sen. Mazie Hirono took her turn to grill Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s head Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that anti-conservative bias allegations against the platforms are baseless, and demanding that President Trump be deplatformed once he’s out of office. She railed against the claims, saying that groups from Media Matters to the Cato Institute had concluded that there is no bias against conservative accounts on social media. “The fact of the matter is that these allegations are completely baseless. Everyone who has systematically looked at the content on social media, from Media Matters to former Republican Senator John Kyle has found absolutely no evidence of anti-conservative bias.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday that the social media giant was wrong to block New York Post tweets about Hunter Biden in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election. Dorsey justified the company’s censorship of the Post tweets about the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Bidens’ connections to Ukraine and China under a 2018 policy intended to keep “Twitter from being used to spread hacked materials,” according to Fox News. “We made a quick interpretation using no other evidence that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking and, according to our policy, we blocked them from being spread,” Dorsey said, according to Fox.
Now that some conservatives are jumping off Twitter and Facebook due to censorship and bias in favor of Parler, experts are weighing in on whether or not the “free speech network” could rise to become an actual competitor of the two mega-tech platforms. The big question for Parler is whether or not it can rise above merely being a conservative echo chamber to become an actual force in the culture on par with Facebook and Twitter, similar to how Fox News rose to become a viable competitor with CNN. Fadi Quran, campaign director at Avaaz, believes that the app will flicker brightly for a while before imploding, asserting that its users will become a problem when returning to Facebook and Twitter.
The second Global Conference for Media Freedom is taking place online today, and the very first session of the conference is closed to the media. That’s right, journalists aren’t allowed to attend as representatives from governments across the world – including Canadian foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne – discuss “key concerns regarding media freedom and identify priorities for the coming year.” True North’s Andrew Lawton is covering the conference.