This has been such a depressing election season that the blockbuster lawsuit filed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on Friday night is a welcome surprise. It also means that RFK, Jr. will be discomfiting the Biden Administration and the censorship apparatus long after his quixotic bid to win the Democratic party nomination will have gone down to its likely defeat (not only are superdelegates a big obstacle, but so to is Biden’s refusal to debate, and the considerable advantages of incumbency.)
RFK, Jr.’s suit challenges the way Google’s YouTube subsidiary has been removing videos with content that contradicts official narratives, specifically videos made of RFK, Jr.’s campaign events and interview where he says politically incorrect things about the Covid vaccine or vaccines generally and the entire video is removed. The filing explains cogently why this is activity is state directed. Views that contradict the official views of bodies like WHO and the CDC and of course the Biden Administration generally are expunged. And YouTube has made the role of the Federal government explicit by invoking Section 230,
The filing does a good job of setting forth, at a high level, how the opinion control apparatus is a pernicious public-private partnership. For instance:
Moreover, in 2018, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018. This law created a new agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”), within the Department of Homeland Security to protect America from cyber threats. According to CISA, its mission “requires effective coordination and collaboration among a broad spectrum of government and private sector organizations.” These organizations include YouTube and CISA’s mission apparently includes removing speech about issues of public concern that the federal government deems dangerous.
I hope as this suit goes on that the plaintiff’s team or sympathetic analysts will look into the Congressional debates about CISA. I doubt that censoring candidates’ videos or even what in saner days would have been waved off as crank views on public health matters would have been seen as legitimate uses.
This filing targets only YouTube via its Google parent but the filing repeatedly depicts the Federal government and YouTube/Google engaged in a joint enterprise of censorship. This means that RFK, Jr. is pursuing Federal government too. If this suit survives a motion to dismiss and gets to discovery (which seems extremely likely), discovery is likely to expose all sorts of Biden Administration meddling. It is not hard to see RFK, Jr. filing a second suit directly against the US government if his discovery unearths Twitter-Files-level or worse muscling.1
Moreover, there is every reason to think YouTube/Google was far more cooperative that Twitter was (the Twitter Files showed staff regularly debating and even turning down quite a few official intervention “requests”). Twitter has a history of fighting subpoenas for information about its account-holders when its competitors roll over far more frequently. On top of that, Google is widely seen as a close ally and even arm of the US surveillance state abroad and presumably here (although one assumes Google is a tad more careful in the US).
As is implied above, this case has the potential to do considerable damage to the Biden campaign once the plaintiffs start discovery. That means that YouTube/Google may be even more motivated than usual to use various procedural moves to delay it, ideally past the point when any juicy findings could be waved as a bloody shirt by Team R (assuming again that Biden or Harris or an anointed Dem like Gavin Newsom becomes the Democrat nominee).
Given that RFK, Jr. argues that the campaign against him intensified once he threw his hat into the ring, one wonders if he could fund his litigation in part out of campaign funds. Even if that would be arguably permissible, a less risky move would be dedicated fundraising for it. Regardless, the filing will make it harder for the media to downplay his campaign. One can imagine the right wing will take it up and thus the MSM will at least have to deign to take notice.
This filing should also have a dampening effect on YouTube/Google and potentially other officially-instigated censorship. At a minimum, all of these anti-free-speech platforms will feel the need to be more coded and careful in how they communicate internally and externally about these schemes. That alone will inhibit their operation.
And if RFK, Jr. prevails, and the odds of that seem not bad, it’s not hard to imagine a raft of follow-on suits using his as a precedent, including class action suits on behalf of smaller victims.
Finally, the Northern District ought to be a favorable location. Among other things, anti-vax sentiments are far more popular there than in most of the rest of the US, particularly among the body purists that IM Doc calls soy boy man bun types.
1 I am not expert on procedure but one would think RFK, Jr. would not want to slow the progress of his Google suit by adding the US government as a defendant.00 RFK Jr. v. YouTube