Sen. Mike Lee is blasting social media companies for censorship over a disputed New York Post story about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, the Post published unconfirmed stories alleging a direct link between Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings. The story cited emails the newspaper claimed were obtained by President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Later that day, Twitter and Facebook blocked users from sharing the article, saying they were taking steps to stop the spread of false information.
“What we see going on here is a blatant display of favoritism and of hypocrisy among these tech companies,” Lee said Thursday morning on Fox News Channel.
“It’s deeply disturbing,” he added.
Lee was far from alone. He joined a chorus of Republicans condemning the social-media companies’ actions as censorship.
Critics include Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who dubbed it “the real election interference,” and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who sent Facebook a letter demanding an explanation while citing as evidence of “anti-conservative bias.”
President Donald Trump seized on the story, which aligns with unsubstantiated claims he has been promoting for months about Joe and Hunter Biden’s connection to a corrupt Ukrainian oil company. At a campaign rally Wednesday night, Trump described the Post article and labeled Joe Biden a “corrupt politician.”
Facebook limited the ability of users to share the story while their independent fact-checkers reviewed the claims in the story, while Twitter went further, blocking users from sharing either of the Post’s stories or sharing pictures of the emails online. Twitter said the stories violated the company’s policy against the sharing of hacked content.
According to the Post’s story, the emails were on a laptop abandoned at a computer repair shop in Delaware. The owner of the shop gave copies of the emails to Giuliani who then provided them to the paper.
In a bizarre twist, the owner of the computer shop claims he emailed Lee’s office in May about the contents of the laptop’s hard drive but did not hear back from him.
“That was news to me,” said Lee of the shop owner’s claims. “I’ve learned that in the last few hours. As you might imagine, we receive tens of thousands of emails and we haven’t been able to confirm that we heard from anyone about this.”
Soon after the Post published their story, other news organizations began to cast doubt on the truthfulness of the report. New York Magazine pointed out numerous implausibilities, and The Daily Beast spoke with the shop owner, who contradicted his story several times during an hour-long interview.
“You’ve had news outlets and social media platforms in the past who have been willing to run all sorts of stuff just based on someone’s suggestion they might be true,” complained Lee. “I just want to see them applying the same standard here they’ve applied elsewhere.”
During the interview, Lee also vowed Republicans will get Judge Amy Comey Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court before the election despite any procedural moves used by Democrats to slow down the process.
"We’re going to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed. We’re not going to let them pull any trick that would deter us from getting her confirmed.
“This is happening,” he said bluntly.