I admire Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., for his previous chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee and his leadership in exposing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s baseless, biased Russiagate probe. However, Nunes should go back and read his Constitution.
Nunes is suing Twitter for $250 million. He claims that the San Francisco-based technology giant violated his First Amendment rights by censoring his Twitter posts. (While we’re at it, let’s dump the childish and avian word “tweet” – at least in this context. Birds tweet. Humans talk.)
There's just one problem here: Twitter is a private corporation. The First Amendment applies to government, not companies.
I am a contributing editor at National Review Online. If socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont sent us a piece on why America needs “Medicare-for-all,” there is an excellent chance that we would not run it.
NRO is a private organization, and it’s safe to say that we’re not crazy about forcing every American to become a patient of Uncle Sam, M.D. So our “censorship” would be as legitimate as the Huffington Post’s refusal to publish an op-ed by Vice President Mike Pence demanding a ban on federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
Now, if Sen. Sanders appeared at, say, an issue forum next June at Baruch College – which is owned by New York City’s exhausted taxpayers – he could not and should not be forbidden from stepping up to the microphone and delivering a stirring, tear-inducing defense of “Medicare-for-all.”
Rather than improperly invoking the First Amendment, Nunes should hold a press conference or seminar and make famous the numerous conservative thinkers, commenters, and purveyors of pro-market merchandise whom Twitter has blocked.
The congressman should invite people like Dennis Prager to explain how Twitter has banished ads for his online Prager University and its educational videos on history, economics and current events.
Nunes should use his powerful bully pulpit to pressure, stigmatize, and embarrass Twitter. But as long as the company remains in private hands, neither litigation nor regulation is appropriate regarding whom it allows or does not allow to mount its platform and be heard.
Nunes and others on the right should challenge Twitter in this sense: If it really is an open forum for any and all to express themselves, then it should behave accordingly and stop blocking voices on the right.
And if Twitter wants to be a giant, left-wing megaphone, great! But it should be honest and admit: "We are a liberal social media outfit. No conservatives allowed."
It would be Twitter’s right to do this. And, at least, the folks in charge of Twitter would yank themselves fully out of the liberal closet.
Most important: Nunes should learn from Rupert Murdoch. Rather than sue CNN or CNBC, the media legend launched Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network. The rest is broadcast – and ratings – history.
Likewise, Nunes should encourage the center-right to pioneer alternatives to Twitter, where conservatives would be perfectly welcome to say or sell whatever they want.
In other words, don't sue Twitter. Overcome it.