It used to be speculation that there was collusion between the government and the media during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new court order may now provide proof.
A federal judge has ordered Dr. Anthony Fauci and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to turn over emails sent to social media companies related to censorship, the Washington Examiner reported. The lawsuit claimed violations of free speech.
Republican attorneys general Jeff Landry of Louisiana and Eric Schmitt of Missouri sued President Joe Biden's administration in May. They alleged that it played an active role in suppressing discussion about lockdowns, the lab leak theory, and other COVID-19-related topics, Fox News reported.
In the lawsuit, Landry and Schmitt wanted the emails to prove that the government actively colluded with social media to craft the narrative. "As a result of these actions, there has been an unprecedented rise of censorship and suppression of free speech — including core political speech — on social media platforms," the lawsuit claimed.
"Not just fringe views, but perfectly legitimate, responsible viewpoints and speakers have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally threatened in the modern public square," it added. In its defense, the Justice Department claimed the emails are protected under presidential communications privilege and executive privilege.
Judge Terry Doughty, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, ruled Tuesday that the government must turn them over and has 21 days to comply. "This Court believes Plaintiffs are entitled to external communications by Jean-Pierre and Dr. Fauci in their capacities as White House Press Secretary and Chief Medical Advisor to the President to third-party social media platforms," Doughty said in the ruling.
However, the Biden administration stands by its actions. "We believe in and we support freedom of speech, and we also believe it is important for all media platforms, including social media, to represent factual scientific information and combat misinformation and disinformation that can cost lives," an official told the news outlet via email.
If officials pressured social media companies to censor free speech, it's a troubling overreach. If they did not, then they have nothing to worry about in those emails.