Fox Business host David Asman falsely claimed that Cass Sunstein "wants to mandate websites" to offer links to opposing views, an idea Asman compared to a "Ministry of Truth" and suggested would "add up to fascism." In fact, in 2008 Sunstein stated that he had renounced that idea.
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Asman: Sunstein's idea "sounds a lot like the creation of a Ministry of Truth"
Asman: Sunstein wants to create "truth commission for the Internet." On the May 18 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, Asman played video clips -- taken from a Naked Emperor Network video promoted by guest Andrew Breitbart -- of President Obama saying that people should seek out opinions that oppose their own and of a 2001 radio interview in which Sunstein discussed the idea of websites providing links to opposing views and adding that if such a thing was not done voluntarily, "maybe Congress should hold hearings about mandates." Asman then commented:
ASMAN: Mandates. All right, Scoreboard thinks this is scary stuff. Government mandating editorial content on the Internet. Government deciding what is fair and what is not fair, and what is balanced and what is not balanced. Now, it sounds a lot like the creation of a Ministry of Truth. The man proposing this is Cass Sunstein, he is head of the White House office of information -- obviously, he has the ear of the president, who as we just heard is now sounding the same tone about getting the government directly involved in a kind of truth commission for the Internet. Are we taking all of this too seriously?
This guy is not just suggesting a nice, pleasant, voluntary suggestion, but he's saying if it's not done voluntarily, the government has to mandate it.
Asman: Sunstein's ideas "add up to fascism" in the real world. On America's Nightly Scoreboard, guest Aaron Klein -- a WorldNetDaily reporter and author of The Manchurian President, a book that makes numerous false and misleading claims about Obama and his administration -- noted that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan hired Sunstein at Harvard Law School and commented that Sunstein is "one of many [Obama administration] czars that have these worrying views." Asman replied:
ASMAN: You have a lot of people who have had crazy ideas in the past in the West Wing of the White House right now, Andrew, and some of them with La Raza -- Sunstein is one -- but I didn't think that these ideas that he cooked up when he was in academe, in these ivory towers that, you know, in the real world add up to fascism, I didn't think that they would play out in the administration. I didn't think there would actually be policy that would come out of it. Do you see -- and the president took the first salvo in that commencement speech earlier this month -- do you think that we are going to hear policy coming out of the Sunstein philosophy of life?
On screen text: "White House Information Czar Wants to Mandate Websites." Throughout the segment, on-screen text appeared stating, "White House Information Czar Wants to Mandate Websites."
Reality: Sunstein now calls policy a "bad idea"
Sunstein: "Corrected" version of book removes "bad policy recommendations" like government-mandated links. PolitiFact.com reported that in his 2002 book Republic.com, "Sunstein talks about the idea of the government requiring sites to link to opposing views." However, PolitiFact further reported:
In a later edition of the book released in 2007, Republic.com 2.0 , Sunstein tempers that position, advocating instead for the creation of public spaces on the Internet where people with differing viewpoints could share their ideas with one another.
But in a video interview on the Web site Bloggerheads.tv on Feb. 29, 2008, Sunstein actually goes a little bit farther than that, calling it a "bad idea" he should never have ventured.
Asked to explain some of the differences between the first book, what Sunstein called "the initial inadequate edition," and its successor, Sunstein said, "To me, the most important (difference) is that the first Republic.com was full of some bad policy recommendations and I was able to get rid of those. So I feel the book has been corrected."
"The initial book was interested in at least considering some government mandates that would require people to link to opposing views, that would require some attention to arguments that maybe had been neglected," Sunstein said. "And while the book Republic.com was pretty tentative about that, to be tentative about a bad idea, it's probably better not to even venture a bad idea. Some of the bad ideas I ventured tentatively as worth considering in Republic.com , in 2.0 I say they'd be bad ideas and they'd be unconstitutional."
Klein baselessly suggests Kagan supports purported Sunstein policy
Klein: Kagan has "these worrying views." Responding to Asman's statement that Obama "could get a majority" to approve Sunstein's proposal, Klein responded, "It could be, but let's say it comes to the Supreme Court, and Kagan is there, and she has these worrying views as well." Klein offered no evidence to support his suggestion that Kagan holds such a position. Klein has repeatedly distorted Kagan's commentary on First Amendment issues.
Klein falsely claims Free Press "advocates government control of the Internet"
Klein: Administration member "is close with" Free Press. Klein stated that another administration member, former "Internet czar" Susan Crawford, "is close with an organization, Free Press, that also advocates government control of the Internet."
Reality: Net neutrality is not "government control of the Internet"
Free Press: Net neutrality "promotes free speech and consumer choice of content and applications." Addressing myths about the net neutrality policy it supports, Free Press, a nonprofit organization "working to reform the media," stated:
Myth #9: "The Obama administration wants the government to become the Web's traffic cop, shutting down free speech on the Internet.
Reality: This argument is completely backward. Network Neutrality is the First Amendment of the Internet. It promotes free speech and consumer choice of content and applications. Network Neutrality ensures consumers -- not the FCC, and not ISPs -- are the ones determining how they want to use the Internet.
Without the FCC stepping in to prevent discrimination, the ISPs will be free to choose whose voices are more important on the Internet. It is simply disingenuous to suggest that by enacting rules to promote the widest dissemination of all forms of speech, the FCC is somehow going to act as a censor.