The maverick website Conservative Treehouse (CTH) recently announced that WordPress would no longer host them due to alleged violations of its terms of service. When CTH asked WordPress to identify the alleged violations, it cited its policy against “prohibited content” and “calls to violence.” WordPress didn’t bother to identify any specific offending content or explain how the site’s content violated the terms. But fans know the truth. WordPress is part of a coordinated corporate crackdown to silence conservative voices.
CTH played an indispensable role in the pushback against the Russia collusion hoax. The site is known for its long analytic pieces that spotted overlooked details in court documents and publicly-available transcripts. It had a knack for finding context to seemingly irrelevant developments. Perhaps no other source demonstrated as much skill in deciphering redactions to uncover the identity of bad actors within the government. CTH frequently embarrassed the Department of Justice and the FBI for their blatant hypocrisy and protection of insiders.
There appears to be no effort to hide or explain the obvious viewpoint discrminination used to apply “terms of service” censorship by WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other platforms controlled by the corporate Left. We experienced a summer of riots inflamed by exaggerations and half truths about the circumstances behind police-involved violence (here, here, here, here, and here). The tech oligarchs watched in delight as their small business competitors, already straining from the economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, crumbled from the violence and arson.
Algorithms that decide which stories get promoted helped to curate the outrage leading up to the riots. Social media that condemned phantom right-wing violence had no problem hosting violent agitators as they organized their mayhem in the name of left-wing causes.
Pro-censorship, left-leaning media cite two stories to support the banning of CTH. In June, CTH suggested that an elderly man injured by apparent police brutality was actually an Antifa agitator. CTH has also repeated claims made by doctors that hydroxychloroquine could be used to treat COVID-19. Even if both claims could be proved patently untrue, suppression of an entire outlet is an extreme response, one never applied to purveyors of leftist misinformation.
CTH has never encouraged violence. It uses logic and exhaustive research to challenge powerful forces in government. CTH, ironically, has also frequently sounded the alarm on corporate censorship of conservatives. The pen can be so much more powerful than the Antifa brick. That’s why WordPress broke the CTH pen before it could start questioning the viability of the Big Tech coronation of a Biden Administration.
WordPress has a history of censoring speech. In 2016, it censored newsworthy leaks of documents allegedly hacked from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In 2018, it began targeting and removing blogs that floated wacky theories about September 11 and the Sandy Hook shootings.
While those censored messages were clearly noxious, the precedent led to increasingly more brazen intrusions into the free market of ideas. In November 2018, WordPress censored the identity of an individual who filed human rights charges in Canada against working-class estheticians who refused to wax “her” scrotum and testicles.
In August, thelibertyloft.com claimed WordPress shadowbanned conservative websites, a practice that prevents content from appearing in search results to silence or de-emphasize the messages. These include whatfinger.com (which frequently re-posts this author).
We should remember, however, that the Left’s censorship overreach is also its Achilles heel. The Soviet Union fell because of a loss in legitimacy. Most Americans don’t realize that even the most brutal dictatorship feels the need to maintain the illusion of freedom and democracy. According to its constitution, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.” The Soviet Union signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights three years before sending tanks to Czecholosovakia to crush peaceful protests. Censorship advocates always claim to be protecting the truth from misinformation.
But, as we saw in the case of the censorship of legitimate corruption stories about Hunter and Joe Biden, censorship is an irresistible tool to protect the powerful from the truth.
Biden never answered the questions about his role in the apparent Ukrainian bribery scandal. Tech companies didn’t censor the corruption story because it was misinformation. It was censored precisely because it was true.
CTH made valuable contributions in analyzing and summarizing the Biden corruption stories. Now that the corporate media has anointed Biden as their new agent in the White House, CTH’s bothersome reporting must be silenced. But this is shortsighted. Censorship delegitimizes the censor and legitimizes the censored. CTH is now an American dissident and a martyr to the cause of free speech.
The Left is often quick to point out that it exercises its censorship in the private sector, not through government action. It thumbs its nose at complaints by saying that the First Amendment does not apply to its corporate allies. This is a strawman. The few corporations that control virtually all media in the United States get a pass from the Justice Department as they centralize and monopolize platforms. The corporate media interests return the favor by censoring messages that don’t conform to official positions on matters of public concern.
To keep the corporate/government messaging unified and well-lubricated, mainstream media pays retainers to a shadow-government of former generals and intelligence officials who can direct propaganda from the comfort of a cable news desk. It’s shocking to think that Russia collusion hoax figures John Brennan and James Clapper maintained security clearances which they used to credential irresponsible accusations about the 2016 election and the Trump Administration. In other words, corporate media and permanent Washington have effectively merged into a single actor.
No matter how powerful the tech companies become, they still need a certain legitimacy to maintain that power. As their heavy-handed censorship becomes increasingly impossible to explain based upon legitimate viewpoint-neutral justifications, so too does their day of reckoning approach.
All Americans should be outraged by this blatant effort to silence legitimate political speech. If CTH can be suppressed, then other sites, such as this one, are also in danger.