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TX-Sen: Salon, “Ted Cruz (R) called out by Sandy Hook lawyers for defending Alex Jones”

8 min read

So remember when this happened a few weeks ago?



Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday pushed back against Facebook for banning conspiracy theorist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones, suggesting the platform was infringing on the First Amendment.

“Am no fan of Jones — among other things he has a habit of repeatedly slandering my Dad by falsely and absurdly accusing him of killing JFK — but who the hell made Facebook the arbiter of political speech? Free speech includes views you disagree with,” Cruz tweeted.

Facebook, a private company, announced Friday it had banned Jones from the platform for 30 days over content that it said violated its community guidelines. The site also removed four videos from pages run by Jones and InfoWars after they were reported to the site.

The ban means that Jones's personal page is suspended, barring him from posting content there or sharing content to the Infowars page, according to CNN.

Of course he would defend someone who trashed his own father. Cruz has been royally kissing Trump’s ass even after he attacked his father and called his wife ugly. He has no principals:

Tech companies such as Facebook, Cruz said Saturday, have “a degree of power and an ability to censor that William Randolph Hearst at the height of yellow journalism could never have imagined.”

“They have the ability, if there is a speaker who is disfavored, simply to silence the speaker — to shadowban them so that you might speak but your words float off into oblivion and nobody hears them,” Cruz said. “On the flip side, they have the ability to curate your feed so that every piece of news you hear is news they approve of.”

When asked whether he supports using antitrust laws to break up the biggest tech firms, Cruz said that “it’s an issue policymakers are looking at seriously.”

Cruz has pressed the case that because Facebook and other social media companies have tried to police offensive and harmful content, they are not “neutral public forums” and therefore should not benefit from an exemption in the Communications Decency Act that protects online platforms from liability for users’ libelous speech. Whether they are neutral forums “is a question that has the tech companies very, very nervous,” Cruz said Saturday.

However, it’s been pointed out that the Harvard-educated constitutional lawyer’s legal analysis is highly flawed: Social media companies are in fact encouraged to moderate their platforms, and doing so does not come with an increased risk of liability for their users’ speech. It’s not an either/or.

Cruz hasn’t yet dissuaded media giants, who are under tremendous pressure to crack down on hate speech from alt-right figures like Jones. Late Sunday, Apple announced that it was removing five of InfoWars’ six podcasts from its iTunes library — the most sweeping enforcement action yet taken by a big tech company. On Monday, Spotify announced that it had completely banned “The Alex Jones Show” and Facebook said it had removed four of Jones’ affiliated pages for violating its hate speech policies.

To be clear, Cruz isn’t wrong to be skeptical of the power of social media companies and their ability to censor speech, and there is an important conversation about how to find a balancing point between moderation and free speech. But that’s not what this is.

Cruz could have used any number of other examples of speech he didn’t agree with — say, for instance, NFL team owners prohibiting their players from kneeling in protest during the national anthem — to take a stand on free speech. But by choosing to elevate Jones, someone he knows will only muddy the waters of the free speech debate, Cruz puts his credibility at risk. Cruz seems to have made a calculation to align himself with the feverish fringes of the far right — while wrapping himself in the glory of the First Amendment.

But Cruz is not a man who minds creating glaring hypocrisies and ironies. For example, before convening his 25-minute press gaggle on Saturday, Cruz went on a rant about the media. “There’s a rage on the left and it’s being irresponsibly stoked,” Cruz told conservative commentator Erick Erickson at the Resurgent Gathering to huge applause. “It’s being stoked by the media. I will say that one of the greatest blessings of the Trump presidency is he has finally and, I think permanently, unmasked the media. Do you remember when there used to be people who’d get on TV and try to argue there’s no bias in the media? Nobody even tries to say that anymore. They are so foaming-at-the-mouth unhinged.”

When it comes to the media, it’s almost like Ted Cruz is singing from the same hymnal as Donald Trump and Alex Jones.

Kudos to Salon for highlighting this:

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is being called out by some of Alex Jones' victims for defending the notorious peddler of false conspiracy theories.

“When it comes to Jones, we can only presume that you are speaking from ignorance and that you do not know the nature of the conduct you are now zealously defending, nor the harm that has befallen my clients and many others,” Mark D. Bankston and William R. Ogden, attorneys representing Sandy Hook parents in Texas defamation lawsuits against Jones, wrote in the Austin American-Statesman on Thursday. “This is not a question of free speech. This is not a question of disagreeing with a person’s political views. This is a question of just how much damage we’re prepared to let a madman inflict on the lives of innocent victims through malicious lies and willful harassment.”

They were responding to criticisms from Cruz about the decision by Facebook, YouTube and Apple to remove Jones' content from their platforms, arguing that his encouragement of harassment against innocent people violated their terms of service. It was a decision that many conservatives and Jones' apologists (or defenders) attacked as a violation of Jones' First Amendment rights, even though the First Amendment only bars governments from censoring forms of speech it dislikes, not private corporations.

Here’s some context:

Mark Bankston and William Ogden of the Houston law firm Farrar & Ball represent two Sandy Hook families suing Jones, and they’re wondering why Cruz has chosen to take up this cause.

“When it comes to Jones, we can only presume that you are speaking from ignorance and that you do not know the nature of the conduct you are now zealously defending, nor the harm that has befallen my clients and many others,” the lawyers wrote in an op-ed published by the Austin American-Statesman.

“This is not a question of free speech,” they added. “This is not a question of disagreeing with a person’s political views. This is a question of just how much damage we’re prepared to let a madman inflict on the lives of innocent victims through malicious lies and willful harassment.”

The lawyers “beg” Cruz to read the suit filings before commenting on them.

“We’re not sure what it will take for you to stop defending Jones,” they wrote. “Does a Sandy Hook parent need to die before Facebook is allowed to deny this man a platform for his mayhem on their private service? Our clients fully recognize that if Jones wants to tell lies about them in the public square, there is very little anyone can do outside a courtroom to stop him. But we ask you not to defend the idea that private companies like Facebook must empower Jones to harass and endanger the lives of innocent victims.”

You can read their full commentary here.

By the way, when it comes to Trump, even voters back home are questioning Cruz’s loyalty:

Sen. Ted Cruz, who needs a big Republican turnout this fall, is still answering queries from fellow party members about how fully he backs President Donald Trump.

In a campaign stop late Friday, Cruz encountered a Trump supporter who challenged him for not giving the president enough credit.

Afterward, Cruz made his most extensive comments yet on the convictions of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

He stopped short of saying special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the 2016 election, should be fired.

But Cruz echoed frustration by Trump's most diehard supporters that Mueller has hired too many Democrats as investigators and prosecutors, and may have strayed too far from his original task.

“His initial charge was Russian interference in the election” Cruz told reporters. “The last I checked, affairs with a porn star doesn't have much to do with Russia.”

Cruz said “I respect the jury” that convicted Manafort for tax fraud, bank fraud and failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

However, the Texas senator said “Manafort was charged with conduct well before the 2016 election.”

Of Mueller's probe, he said, “The more it becomes a fishing expedition … the more problematic it becomes.”

Asked if Mueller should be fired, though, Cruz replied, “That's a decision for others to make.”

By the way, Cruz also keeps making an asshole of himself in his attacks against Beto O’Rourke (D. TX). Especially when it comes to this:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday criticized his Senate opponent Beto O’Rourke for raising money in Hollywood, but Cruz has also brought in a pile of donations from the Golden State this election season.

Cruz wrote in a tweet Thursday that O’Rourke was “raising big $$ from Hollywood by supporting NFL protests of the national anthem.” It’s unclear how much money O’Rourke has raised since a video of him defending the protests went viral this week.

But both candidates have received a deluge of out-of-state money as the race for Texas’ Senate seat draws national attention. That includes California, which tops the out-of-state donor list for both candidates.

Californians gave Cruz $587,000 from Jan. 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 , according to federal records of campaign donations over $200. That’s about 8 percent of the $7.4 million in itemized personal contributions. O’Rourke has raised about $1.4 million from California, or about 10 percent of his $14 million in itemized personal contributions.

By the way, I am in El Paso this weekend visiting relatives and it’s been very encouraging seeing quite a few Beto for Senate signs, especially around the University of Texas El Paso campus. I’ll have more to say on my trip to El Paso later. Let’s keep up the momentum and win this seat. Click here to donate and get involved with Beto’s campaign.

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