Think back, if you can handle it, to a time before social media. How is it possible, you may ask, that people existed without Twitter and Facebook and Parler and Pinterest? Did they even talk to each other or merely grumble under their breath as they passed? It’s unclear, but somehow business got done and society managed to coalesce into something mature enough to create the vast digital spaces where MAGA coups could be organized in plain sight.
But with Donald Trump finally banned from Twitter, and MAGA-friendly Parler looking for new web hosting and likely to be taken offline for a stretch, conservatives are complaining that it’s getting a lot harder to rile up their followers with coup attempts, wild misinformation about elections and lunatic QAnon conspiracies.
Which brings us to Republican house member Devin Nunes of California, who believes that conservatives are simply out of ways to communicate with constituents now that social media companies are taking measures to ban hate speech and the spread of dangerous misinformation and conspiracies about satanist pedophiles running the government and Hollywood. In what was billed as an “exclusive” interview on Fox News on Sunday, Nunes claimed that “conservatives have no way to communicate” despite being on live television on the network that bills itself as the most watched news channel in the country.
Devin Nunes says Republicans have no way to communicate now pic.twitter.com/3XBIwSUcLl
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) January 10, 2021
As the Daily Beast noted, Nunes was pretty steamed on Fox News, bemoaning all the followers he might lose on Parler if the plug gets pulled on its web hosting after Amazon Web Services stops supporting it this weekend.
“This is clearly a violation of antitrust, civil rights, the RICO statute,” Nunes added, calling on the Department of Justice and the FBI to open a “racketeering investigation” into what he views as a coordinated “attack” on Parler. “I have three million followers on Parler,” the congressman whined. “Tonight, I will no longer be able to communicate with those people.”
It cannot be said enough that, despite conservatives claiming strict adherence to the constitution and carrying pocket versions of it with them everywhere they go, there’s an incredible misunderstanding of what the first amendment actually is and what it protects. Private companies deciding not to deal with dangerous and — especially this week, seditious — speech is not a violation of the first amendment because they’re not part of the federal government. And there’s also the hilariously simple-minded conclusion that, without Twitter, there’s simply no way to talk to anyone.
On a TV network devoted exclusively to covering Republican issues for a Republican audience, Devin Nunes says Republicans have no way to communicate. https://t.co/t8ohbfSbut
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) January 10, 2021
He says on the most popular news channel in America https://t.co/7uJBAuE4OL
— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) January 10, 2021
He said, in a live broadcast with 3.6 million viewers per day. https://t.co/BPSVw4We7I
— Đɇnnɨs Đɇŧwɨłłɇɍ (@drgonzo123) January 10, 2021
then why can we see and hear you https://t.co/Ba4Pcjxr2l
— Eric Rauchway (@rauchway) January 10, 2021
Dismissing the simple fact that he’s claiming an inability to communicate while talking on Fox News, there’s also a wide variety of other ways to, you know, get your ideas out there if you are a sitting member of the House of Representatives. Modern media has created a phalanx of conservative news outlets, and Nunes has written and published a book. And it’s also important to note that politicians have entire press staffs at their behest to write speeches, press releases and access many other forms of direct communication to journalists and, more importantly, their constituents.
Nunes is being willfully misleading, to say the least, though that’s really nothing new. What is new, and entirely his problem, is that there may now actually have to deal with consequences for misleading others and distorting reality.