Texas AG, conservative media outlets sue U.S. State Depart­ment

The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed a joint lawsuit, along with co-plaintiff media outlets The Daily Wire and The Federalist, against the U.S. Department of State, alleging the federal government both directly and indirectly violated the First Amendment rights of certain online news outlets by placing them on a censorship “blacklist.”

According to the OAG, the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleges an office within the state department known as the Global Engagement Center( GEC) was used to “limit the reach and business viability of domestic news organizations by funding censorship technology and private censorship enterprises.”

The stated purpose of the GEC is to lead the federal government’s effort to “counter foreign state and non-state propaganda” and disinformation efforts that pose a risk to the United States or influence the government’s policies.

However, the plaintiffs argue the GEC was weaponized to “violate the First Amendment and suppress Americans’ constitutionally-protected speech.”

In short, the lawsuit describes how the government created multiple censorship programs that worked to de-platform, shadowban, discredit, and demonize certain American media outlets.

It argues that some of these mechanisms were not just surveillance tools for the government to monitor and identify potential propaganda and disinformation, but rather characterized the technology that had been developed as “tools of warfare” used to shape opinions and perceptions that had been “misappropriated and misdirected to be used at home against domestic political opponents and members of the American press with viewpoints conflicting with federal officials.”

“Media Plaintiffs each face blacklisting, reduced advertising revenue, reduced potential growth, reputational damage, economic cancellation, reduced circulation of reporting and speech, and social media censorship — all as a direct result of Defendants’ unlawful conduct,” the lawsuit states.

“I am proud to lead the fight to save Americans’ precious constitutional rights from Joe Biden’s tyrannical federal government,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a news release announcing the lawsuit.

“The State Department’s mission to obliterate the First Amendment is completely un-American. This agency will not get away with their illegal campaign to silence citizens and publications they disagree with.”

“Those government-funded, government-promoted censorship technologies and enterprises targeted conservative media outlets, including The Daily Wire,” Ben Shapiro said in a video statement released regarding the lawsuit. Shapiro is the editor emeritus of The Daily Wire.

“Their goal is to paint us as unreliable and therefore to push advertisers away from advertising on programs like this one, websites like The Daily Wire, websites like The Federalist, that is an ongoing problem that is being pushed by the state department,” he said.

Shapiro added they are in the joint lawsuit not to seek money, but to seek an injunction blocking the censorship program from continuing.

The lawsuit alleges the federal government violated the Administrative Procedures Act when it used the program to target domestic news outlets instead of foreign actors as explicitly authorized by Congress. By doing this, Paxton and the co-plaintiffs argue the federal government violated multiple provisions of the First Amendment.

They are seeking a court order enjoining the federal government from continuing the program.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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