Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Sunday accused the Biden administration of being “in bed with Big Tech,” making the argument that comments made by White House press secretary Jen Psaki last week have only strengthened former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit accusing Facebook and Twitter of censorship.
“I kind of wonder if Jen Psaki is on the payroll of Donald Trump because her press conference strengthened President Trump’s lawsuit against Big Tech,” Cruz said in an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “It makes clear that everything we thought about the Biden administration – about their willingness to trample on free speech, to trample on the Constitution, to use government power to silence you, everything we feared they might do, they are doing and worse. And I think that President Trump’s lawsuit got much, much stronger this week.”
As coronavirus cases are on the rise and vaccination rates have slowed in the U.S., the White House launched an effort to crack down on misinformation, starting with a warning from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy that bogus information about coronavirus is an “urgent threat” to public health.
The surgeon general’s office issued a new report titled, “Confronting Health Misinformation,” that makes recommendations for social media platforms to “impose clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies.”
Psaki doubled down on the administration’s relationship with Facebook on Friday and said it is “making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives,” and even added that if a user is banned from one platform “for providing misinformation” that user should be banned from all others.
“We don’t take anything down. We don’t block anything, Facebook, and any private sector company makes decisions about what information should be on their platform,” Psaki said in defense of the relationship and reported this week that 12 people are to blame for 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.
Speaking with host Maria Bartiromo, Cruz posed a hypothetical situation, suggesting that what Biden is doing now to pressure Facebook to act would strike a more serious chord if, for example, the White House directed a private paramilitary organization to seize Americans’ guns – then signed a law granting that paramilitary group freedom from any civil liability for its actions.
Cruz explained that First Amendment protection apply to government censorship, but comments from the White House illustrate how private companies with a monopoly could also stamp out free speech.
“The Supreme Court has long recognized a line of cases when government uses a private company as a tool, as an arm to implement a government policy – in this instance, when government explicitly asks a private monopoly ‘censor the following speech we disagree with,’ that that private company can be treated as a state actor,” Cruz said.
President Joe Biden accused the tech companies of “killing people” by allowing misinformation to remain on their platforms, comments which drew a quick rebuke from Facebook.
“The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing their vaccine goals,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC’s Dylan Byers.
Appearing on Fox News before his speech at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit, Cruz further accused both the Democratic Party and Big Tech of being “in bed” with the Chinese Communist Party.
“Big Tech is in bed with the Chinese communists,” Cruz said. “Among the biggest funders of the Democratic Party are the giant corporations. And many of the giant corporations, the Fortune 50 and the Fortune 500, are in bed with the Chinese communists.”
His examples included Biden nominating Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his United Nations ambassador despite her making a speech at a Chinese-funded Confucius Institute event, the State Department reversing its policy to ban Taiwanese flags on U.S. government property to appease the Chinese government and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee rejecting a Green New Deal amendment that would have banned the purchase of electric cars from the region in China where the Uyghurs are being held in concentration camps.
Fox News’ Emma Colton, Marisa Schultz and Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.