News Analysis

CNN’s Jake Tapper blames New York Post for being censored by Twitter

CNN's Jake Tapper thinks the New York Post should accept their censorship and move on. But he doesn't realize that the fate of western civilization hangs in the balance.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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CNN's Jake Tapper thinks the New York Post should accept their censorship, delete the tweets as they have been instructed to by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and move on. But he doesn't realize that the fate of western civilization hangs in the balance.

The New York Post has been blocked from Twitter. Twitter said they would let the New York Post back onto the platform if the Post deletes six tweets, articles about the Bidens and their business dealings. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even testified before the US Senate that if the Post deletes these six tweets the Post can repost the same exact content, and that Twitter will not block it.

The Post has not deleted the tweets. Anyone who knows anything about freedom of speech or freedom of the press and how paramount they are to a functioning democracy knows that rights cannot be sacrificed for the convenience of authoritarians.

Yet CNN's Jake Tapper thinks that's absurd. In fact, he thinks the Post should just delete their tweets, that it's their fault they are still locked out of Twitter because they will not comply. Deleting six tweets wouldn't take very long, Tapper says, no big deal. But the demand of a deletion of tweets is no small matter. In fact, it is everything.

What Tapper misses is that it is not the time that it would take for the Post to delete their tweets, but the principle behind the request, and behind the proposed capitulation.

Tapper, it seems, has been neglecting his Tolstoy. In the author's preface to his 1898 work What is Art (translated 1960), Tolstoy described the process of dealing with the censors who had their hands in his words before publication.

He said that it started off simple enough. "First," he said, the censor "softened my expressions, and in some cases weakened them. For instance, he replaced the words 'always' by 'sometimes,' 'all' by 'some,'... 'patriotism' by 'pseudo-patriotism'... and I did not consider it necessary to protest."

"...the Censor required that whole sentences should be altered..." Tolstoy writes. "I agreed to this also, and to some further alterations. It seemed not worth while to upset the whole affair for the sake of one sentence, and when one alteration had been agreed to it seemed not worth while to protest against a second and a third."

"So, little by little, expressions crept into the book which altered the sense and attributed things to me that I could not have wished to say. So that by the time the book was printed it had been deprived of some part of its integrity and sincerity."

Sohrab Ahmari, opinion editor for the New York Post, knows that integrity is what is at stake. The tweets were not sent in error, they were not incorrect, and they did not violate Twitter's ever-shifting, dubious terms of service.

Twitter has a policy that they "won't revisit past enforcement positions," as Tapper points out but the Post has a policy of not sacrificing its integrity or their rights to a free press. These latter policies are not arbitrary, as Twitter's is, instead they are the backbone of democracy and Western civilization. Without these freedoms, the west will not stand.

It may seem like a small matter. As Chad Felix Greene pointed out, those who think the Post should just delete the tweets say "It's just Twitter," and commence "rolling their eyes." But a major corporation, that bows to progressive interests, limits freedoms, and censors the press, demanding that the a newspaper delete content simply to comply with their terms of service is Soviet-sounding nonsense.

Deletion of six tweets is only the beginning. One capitulation, as Tolstoy warns, leads to many more. "A book has appeared under my name containing thoughts attributed to me which are not mine," Tolstoy wrote.

Would it be any different for the Post to issue deletions of their work under duress? And the obvious rejoinder to that, that the Post can simply reissue the tweets so they ought just do that, can easily be accompanied by question why delete something if reposting it is permissible? What purpose does the deletion serve?

The deletion would serve to show that the Post had bowed, willingly, to the censorship. If they delete these six tweets, then why not others? Why not minor changes, and edits? Once the first capitulation is made, why not make so many others?

This, as Tolstoy wrote, "strikingly illustrates the indubitable truth that all compromise with institutions of which your conscience disapproves—compromises that are usually made for the sake of the general good—instead of producing the good you expected, inevitably lead you... to participate in the evil that institution produces." Tolstoy's book was published with the censors handiwork reversed, in the US, in 1960.

It is now in the US where Jake Tapper is suggesting that censorship is not only permissible, but acceptable, and that the American press must submit to it. Perhaps he will feel differently when the censors come for him. Or perhaps he will take his own advice, and bow before his benevolent masters.

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