As far as senators go, no pair better represents the dualistic intra-party GOP divide better than Rand Paul and Mitt Romney.
The former is arguably the most militant of the lot (which is not saying much of the mostly milquetoast GOP Senate cohort) when it comes to free speech issues (and other issues). The latter embodies the quintessential oligarchic ruling class that has earned, deservedly so, the derisive title of RINO.
In a recent Senate Homeland Committee hearing, set against the backdrop of a recent federal court ruling that specific agencies of the federal government are prohibited from pressuring social media companies and the legal wrangling that has ensued, Mitt Romney had this to say (emphasis added):
In my view, it’s overly broad in prohibiting any employee of the federal government from cajoling or arguing with a member of the media about a story. Employees of the federal government have rights too!… That’s not censorship. Censorship is when the government shuts something off. This is arguing to convince someone else to shut it off*. And that’s the right people have, whether they’re in government or outside of government… To say that no employee of the government, from the president on down to the millions of people who work in the government, can speak with a social media company or a legacy media company and express their point of view… that would shut off free speech on the part of the administration in power.
*Talk about splitting hairs!
Jen Psaki, when she was the chief White House propagandist before becoming an MSNBC propagandist (it’s basically the same job), tried this same tact to justify her regime’s censorship of COVID-19 “misinformation”:
The government is merely suggesting that the platforms ban people who spread Covid-19 misinformation and is not requiring the platforms to do so, which would violate the First Amendment.
Here’s the thing: the federal government talking to social media companies in whatever context imaginable is inherently coercive because the government has regulatory authority over that industry — not to mention whatever dirty, underhanded tricks it could employ in the dark via any of its many intelligence agencies outside of any oversight.
Congress creatures understand this dynamic well, as evidenced by Chuck Schumer’s not-so-veiled threats on national television against Trump in which he stated that “[if] you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
(Could there be any more blatant admission that alleged “democracy” doesn’t exist any longer in the United States, to the extent that it ever really did?)
When the Brandon entity is trotted out to declare that Facebook is literally “killing people” by not automatically and blanketly censoring everything the government wants it to censor, as he was in July 2021, what is the logical implication of that?
What enforcement actions are off the table when a social media company is literally “killing people”?
Sen. Rand Paul, in his response to Romney’s absurd defense of state censorship, made essentially this same point and others debunking the “we’re just talking to them” line from government actors: “[The First Amendment] is about limitations on government involvement in speech,” full-stop.