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Evidence from the Twitter Files and other reports revealing how the U.S. government works with nonprofit groups and Big Tech to clamp down on protected speech struck many Americans and a new and startling development. The censorship industrial complex, however, was not invented in response to Donald Trump and COVID-19. As Ben Weingarten reports for RealClearInvestigations, the roots of the sprawling network that identifies and often seeks to quell dissenting views can be traced back at least seven decades to the rise of major, government-funded research universities – especially Stanford University, and the Big Tech revolution it helped incubate in Silicon Valley. Weingarten reports:

  • After World War II, the visionary Stanford Professor and later Provost Frederick Terman drew on government and business contacts he had forged during the war to turn Stanford into a research powerhouse that included work on classified military programs.

  • In 1951, Terman helped establish the Stanford Industrial Park, a high-tech cooperative on university land that would attract electronics firms and defense contractors to an area that would become known as Silicon Valley.

  • Building on President Eisenhower’s earlier warning, Democrat Sen. William Fulbright warned in 1967 about the rise of the “military-industrial-academic-complex.”

  • This complex took on a new mission after the 9/11 terror attacks and the advent of social media including Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) as information came to be seen as a battlespace as the government and non-state actors, including terrorist groups, realized they could harness the power of such platforms, and use them for intelligence gathering, waging information warfare, and targeting foes.

  • The Obama administration expanded these efforts to included not just enemies abroad but Americans in the homeland.

  • Various agencies were involved, but especially the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the FBI.

  • Recognizing the constitutional prohibitions against censorship, government agencies increasingly funded and worked with Big Tech companies and nonprofit groups to monitor what they identified as “misinformation,” “disinformation” and “misinformation.”

  • A key player in this effort, especially during the 2020 election, was Stanford Internet Observatory, which initiated and coordinated efforts to flag and suppress social media posts deemed false or misleading.

  • These posts often targeted figures from the right, including President Trump, or narratives that challenged the official government line on COVID-19 and other issues.

  • The Supreme Court may change the contours of the censorship industrial complex this summer when it is expected to issue a ruling in the first amendment case challenging the censorship industrial complex, Murthy v. Missouri.

  • Some experts are doubtful alleged social media censorship is going away anytime soon. “I don’t know how to ‘put the genie back in the bottle,’” one expert told RCI.

In RealClearInvestigations, Nancy Rommelmann digs deep into the life of Fred "Bubba" Copeland, an Alabama pastor and mayor who committed suicide last year after a local news outlet exposed his cross-dressing persona as "Brittini Blaire Summerlin" on social media. Copeland’s story was seized upon by national media as symbolic of the perils that hateful conservatives pose to the trans community, but Rommelmann finds a more nuanced and textured story:

  • The local community was and is not an intolerant monolith.

  • "The people I met were not filled with white rural rage," Rommelmann writes, "and none were going to reject a man some of them had known their entire lives over some weird kink he and his wife had.“

  • Hundreds crowded into the chapel for a memorial slideshow of Copeland’s life, including a picture of Mayor Bubba with President Trump, taken after a deadly tornado.

  • Bubba Copeland was remembered as the one who got up early before church to fix the town stoplight when it went on the blink, Rommelmann reports, and “who showed up at your house when your father hung himself in the back yard.”

  • In a writerly quest for explanations that recalls the fictional journalistic conceit of "Citizen Kane," Rommelmann wonders: Why had that single small news outlet, 1819 News, thrown the grenade? And what political context supplied the ammunition?

  • The result, she concludes, “was a man trapped in a hate gyre built by people who needed others to look bad so they could look good.”

In RealClearInvestigations, James Varney reports why many criminologists believe official numbers do not accurately gauge true levels of crime, no matter how much political leaders and media try to spin them:

  • A case is point is a recent modest drop in murders for 2023. That's touted as progress, but only in comparison with heightened crime of recent years, not compared with much lower levels before the pandemic and anti-police turmoil of 2020.

  • The crime experts note that stats have become notoriously incomplete, with big cities in some years failing to report some or all their numbers to the FBI.

  • That's thanks largely to the FBI's complex, time-consuming and disruptive system of reporting introduced in 1988: the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

  • There have also been problems with the numbers that are submitted, including the misreporting of sex crimes in New Orleans and discrepancies from Baltimore, where police and news reports put 2022’s homicide total much higher than the FBI’s.

  • Declining arrest rates and slowing police response times to 911 calls also help explain why polls show Americans believe crime is rising -- even if stats say otherwise.

  • Auto thefts may better capture the state of crime and perceptions: Car thefts, unlike petty and even violent crimes, tend to be reported because of the large insured property loss.

  • And car thefts have risen steadily -- in San Diego, for example, with a whopping 27% jump in 2021, contributing to the typical American’s perception of increased crime.

In RealClearInvestigations, Julie Kelly reports that top Biden officials worked with the National Archives at an early stage to develop Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case against Donald Trump involving the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified material:

  • The revelation, from documents unsealed by Judge Aileen Cannon with earlier redactions removed, challenges President Biden's public statements about what he knew and when he knew it regarding the case against his political rival.

  • The active participation of a top White House lawyer and other high-ranking White House officials throws into doubt whether Biden was forthright when he told “60 Minutes” he wasn’t involved in the investigation.

  • The new disclosures indicate the Department of Justice was in touch with the National Archives and Records Administration during much of 2021, undermining the department’s claims that it became involved in the matter only after the Archives sent a criminal referral on February 9, 2022.

  • Within weeks after Trump left office, employees with Biden’s Office of Records Management and the Archives coordinated to demand the return of records of Trump’s transition team, which included former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

  • The Trump case sparked revelations that Biden had also retained classified documents – in Biden’s case for decades.

  • Special Counsel Robert Hur concluded that Biden should not be prosecuted for these violations.

RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

Evidence from the Twitter Files and other reports revealing how the U.S. government works with nonprofit groups and Big Tech to clamp down on protected speech struck many Americans and a new and startling development. The censorship industrial complex, however, was not invented in response to Donald Trump and COVID-19. As Ben Weingarten reports for RealClearInvestigations, the roots of the sprawling network that identifies and often seeks to quell dissenting views can be traced back at least seven decades to the rise of major, government-funded research universities – especially Stanford University, and the Big Tech revolution it helped incubate in Silicon Valley. Weingarten reports:

  • After World War II, the visionary Stanford Professor and later Provost Frederick Terman drew on government and business contacts he had forged during the war to turn Stanford into a research powerhouse that included work on classified military programs.

  • In 1951, Terman helped establish the Stanford Industrial Park, a high-tech cooperative on university land that would attract electronics firms and defense contractors to an area that would become known as Silicon Valley.

  • Building on President Eisenhower’s earlier warning, Democrat Sen. William Fulbright warned in 1967 about the rise of the “military-industrial-academic-complex.”

  • This complex took on a new mission after the 9/11 terror attacks and the advent of social media including Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) as information came to be seen as a battlespace as the government and non-state actors, including terrorist groups, realized they could harness the power of such platforms, and use them for intelligence gathering, waging information warfare, and targeting foes.

  • The Obama administration expanded these efforts to included not just enemies abroad but Americans in the homeland.

  • Various agencies were involved, but especially the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the FBI.

  • Recognizing the constitutional prohibitions against censorship, government agencies increasingly funded and worked with Big Tech companies and nonprofit groups to monitor what they identified as “misinformation,” “disinformation” and “misinformation.”

  • A key player in this effort, especially during the 2020 election, was Stanford Internet Observatory, which initiated and coordinated efforts to flag and suppress social media posts deemed false or misleading.

  • These posts often targeted figures from the right, including President Trump, or narratives that challenged the official government line on COVID-19 and other issues.

  • The Supreme Court may change the contours of the censorship industrial complex this summer when it is expected to issue a ruling in the first amendment case challenging the censorship industrial complex, Murthy v. Missouri.

  • Some experts are doubtful alleged social media censorship is going away anytime soon. “I don’t know how to ‘put the genie back in the bottle,’” one expert told RCI.

In RealClearInvestigations, Nancy Rommelmann digs deep into the life of Fred "Bubba" Copeland, an Alabama pastor and mayor who committed suicide last year after a local news outlet exposed his cross-dressing persona as "Brittini Blaire Summerlin" on social media. Copeland’s story was seized upon by national media as symbolic of the perils that hateful conservatives pose to the trans community, but Rommelmann finds a more nuanced and textured story:

  • The local community was and is not an intolerant monolith.

  • "The people I met were not filled with white rural rage," Rommelmann writes, "and none were going to reject a man some of them had known their entire lives over some weird kink he and his wife had.“

  • Hundreds crowded into the chapel for a memorial slideshow of Copeland’s life, including a picture of Mayor Bubba with President Trump, taken after a deadly tornado.

  • Bubba Copeland was remembered as the one who got up early before church to fix the town stoplight when it went on the blink, Rommelmann reports, and “who showed up at your house when your father hung himself in the back yard.”

  • In a writerly quest for explanations that recalls the fictional journalistic conceit of "Citizen Kane," Rommelmann wonders: Why had that single small news outlet, 1819 News, thrown the grenade? And what political context supplied the ammunition?

  • The result, she concludes, “was a man trapped in a hate gyre built by people who needed others to look bad so they could look good.”

In RealClearInvestigations, James Varney reports why many criminologists believe official numbers do not accurately gauge true levels of crime, no matter how much political leaders and media try to spin them:

  • A case is point is a recent modest drop in murders for 2023. That's touted as progress, but only in comparison with heightened crime of recent years, not compared with much lower levels before the pandemic and anti-police turmoil of 2020.

  • The crime experts note that stats have become notoriously incomplete, with big cities in some years failing to report some or all their numbers to the FBI.

  • That's thanks largely to the FBI's complex, time-consuming and disruptive system of reporting introduced in 1988: the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

  • There have also been problems with the numbers that are submitted, including the misreporting of sex crimes in New Orleans and discrepancies from Baltimore, where police and news reports put 2022’s homicide total much higher than the FBI’s.

  • Declining arrest rates and slowing police response times to 911 calls also help explain why polls show Americans believe crime is rising -- even if stats say otherwise.

  • Auto thefts may better capture the state of crime and perceptions: Car thefts, unlike petty and even violent crimes, tend to be reported because of the large insured property loss.

  • And car thefts have risen steadily -- in San Diego, for example, with a whopping 27% jump in 2021, contributing to the typical American’s perception of increased crime.

In RealClearInvestigations, Julie Kelly reports that top Biden officials worked with the National Archives at an early stage to develop Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case against Donald Trump involving the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified material:

  • The revelation, from documents unsealed by Judge Aileen Cannon with earlier redactions removed, challenges President Biden's public statements about what he knew and when he knew it regarding the case against his political rival.

  • The active participation of a top White House lawyer and other high-ranking White House officials throws into doubt whether Biden was forthright when he told “60 Minutes” he wasn’t involved in the investigation.

  • The new disclosures indicate the Department of Justice was in touch with the National Archives and Records Administration during much of 2021, undermining the department’s claims that it became involved in the matter only after the Archives sent a criminal referral on February 9, 2022.

  • Within weeks after Trump left office, employees with Biden’s Office of Records Management and the Archives coordinated to demand the return of records of Trump’s transition team, which included former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

  • The Trump case sparked revelations that Biden had also retained classified documents – in Biden’s case for decades.

  • Special Counsel Robert Hur concluded that Biden should not be prosecuted for these violations.

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