First came Alex Jones, and the outright booting of his Infowars news product from several top social media sites.
Then came headlines of Sebastian Gorka, former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, about facing a so-called “soft ban” at Fox News.
“We will take other counterterrorism experts. We will not take Seb. Ever,” the Daily Beast cited one unnamed Fox staffer as saying of the pundit.
That’s just a glimpse of the First Amendment-tied topics from this from this week’s news cycle.
But really, radio rock star Michael Savage has them both beat. He’s been banned by Britain; booted from various markets. And all that, despite the fact he’s a top ratings draw, a major market asset, a proven voice who’s weathered many a storm.
This brings up the big takeaway.
Truly, when it comes to free speech, Americans are making a mistake in thinking the censorship is coming from one political ideology over another. Truly, censorship knows no political party.
If Americans don’t get that, the battle is going to be lost to the censors.
“Alex Jones is a huge story,” Savage said in a telephone interview. “Whether we agree with Jones or not … is irrelevant. … He is the canary in the coal mine for all of us.”
Savage — banned by the United Kingdom in 2009 for what then-British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith described as his offensive speech that violated “the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here” — should know.
He’s been told by insiders he’s barred from Fox News, too.
“How is it,” he said, referencing his best-selling books, his top radio ratings, his massive fan base and the very ideologies he touts, “that my natural outlet is Fox News … Wouldn’t you think some host would want me on?”
Oh, but they do, Savage said.
“I know at least two hosts — they say [forces behind scenes at Fox] are blocking me,” he said. “Is it commercial competition? Or is it something else?”
His attorney, Daniel Horowitz, said similarly.
“Fox News is using our airwaves,” Horowitz said, “to broadcast their content. They should not be able to censor somebody just because they’re more talented.”
Fox communications contact Irena Briganti didn’t immediately respond to an emailed query about Gorka or Savage.
But let’s go beyond this he-said, she-said, that’s true, that’s not true, path the whole matter could take, and has taken, for just a moment.
Fact is, all this censorship talk and social media booting and newscast blacklisting and suspicions of secret forces at play — all these things are leaving a sour taste.
News and media products are supposed to be about shedding the light on the dark, and illuminating for the consumers — the people, the citizens, the paying and taxpaying public — the truth. Censorship has no part in the telling of the American story.
Leave that to the communists.
America needs to look at the larger issue, the bigger danger.
“This,” he said, referencing his ban in Britain, “is what happens when you don’t fight from the beginning.”
Exactly. Censorship is neither Democrat nor Republican.
And the censors never start with both barrels blazing. They fire a shot here, a shot there, testing waters and reactions and to how far they can push — until suddenly, one day, the freedoms once taken for granted are gone.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.