Richard Stengel, the point man on state-owned media for Joe Biden’s transition team, has said protection of hateful speech that can provoke violence is a “design flaw” in the Constitution and should be fixed with “new guardrails.”
Stengel, a former MSNBC contributor, is transition team leader for the US agency for Global Media, which includes broadcasters Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. He’s likely to head the agency if Biden becomes president in January. Ironically, that means Washington’s foreign propaganda outlets, which traditionally have promoted America’s founding principles, would be overseen by a man with restrictive views on the most fundamental of those tenets – freedom of speech.
“All speech is not equal,” Stengel wrote last year in an op-ed published by the Washington Post. “And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting thought that we hate, but not speech that incites hate.”
Stengel gave the example of “sophisticated Arab diplomats” who had questioned why constitutional rights would allow a US citizen to burn a copy of the Koran. “It’s a fair question,” he said. “Yes, the First Amendment protects the thought that we hate, but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw.”
Another example that Stengel cited was alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. “Our foremost liberty protects any bad actors who hide behind it to weaken our society,” he wrote. “Russian agents assumed fake identities, promulgated false narratives and spread lies on Twitter and Facebook – all protected by the First Amendment.”
Stengel added that it’s time to consider hate-speech laws, like those enacted by other countries to discourage incitement of racial and religious tensions after World War II. He argued that mass shooters Dylann Roof and Omar Mateen were consumers of hate speech, which created a climate that made their heinous crimes more likely.
Stengel, formerly editor of Time magazine, was a US State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in the Obama-Biden administration. He referred to his former State Department role as “chief propagandist.”
“I’m not against propaganda,” Stengel reportedly told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018. “Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. And I don’t necessarily think that’s awful.”
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POLL: Voters have increasing doubts about Biden health, mental fitness
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows just 44 percent of voters approve of Biden’s job performance, and 46 percent say he’s “mentally fit.”
Voters have increasing doubts about the health and mental fitness of President Joe Biden, the oldest man ever sworn into the White House, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
Only 40 percent of voters surveyed agreed with the statement that Biden “is in good health,” while 50 percent disagreed. That 10-percentage-point gap — outside the poll’s margin of error — represents a massive 29-point shift since October 2020, when Morning Consult last surveyed the question and found voters believed Biden was in good health by a 19-point margin.
Asked whether Biden is mentally fit, voters are almost evenly split, with 46 percent saying he is and 48 percent disagreeing. But that negative 2-point margin stands in stark contrast to Biden’s numbers lastOctober, when voters believed he was mentally fit by a 21-point margin.https://bea6cc9e18caeb2dfe24debcd71c41b2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The poll questions are part of a long battery of attributes about which voters were asked to rate Biden — the same battery employed multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, and asked about both candidates last fall, prior to the 2020 presidential election.
The new polling comes amid persistent questions about whether Biden — who turns 79 on Saturday — will run for reelection in threeyears and as Democrats have grown increasingly concerned with the party’s gerontocracy. Biden says he will run again, but some longtime allies have raised doubts. Even “Saturday Night Live” recently ribbed Biden over whether he was “lucid.”
The most intense scrutiny of Biden’s age and his verbal miscues had previouslybeen limited to conservative news outlets and social media, said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has surveyed for Biden.
“They’re running a very aggressive campaign on this, and it’s bleeding over into the mainstream a little,” Lake said. “By and large, the people who believe this are Trump supporters anyway or they’ve been exposed to the right-wing disinformation machine.”
To Lake’s point, the Morning Consult poll generally shows that Trump voters and Republicans generally believe Biden is neither physically nor mentally fit, and Biden voters believe the opposite. However, independents — by a margin of 23 points — don’t agree that Biden is mentally fit now.
Before last year’s election, independents and voters overall believed Biden was more physically and mentally fit than Trump, whose mismanagement of the pandemic damaged his campaign as the Biden campembraced social distancing and mostly eschewed large events.
But with Trump gone as a foil for now, Biden is more in the spotlight than ever, and his overall approval rating began collapsing with the bloody withdrawal from Afghanistan. The ravages of the coronavirus Delta variant, congressional squabbling and public perceptions about the economy also contributed to Biden’s troubles.
The new Morning Consult poll shows 44 percent give Biden a positive job approval rating and 53 percent disapprove. Biden’s approval rating is essentially unchanged over the past two weeks — it was 46 percent last week and 45 percent the week prior — since the passage of the infrastructure bill in Congress earlier this month.
A recent Harvard-Harris poll found that 53 percent of voters said they had doubts about Biden’s fitness and 47 percent did not. Asked if Biden is too old to be president, 58 percent said he was and 42 percent said he was fit enough.
PolitiFact Refuses to Correct Claim that Rittenhouse Illegally Possessed Gun After Judge Dismisses Charge
The “fact-checking” outlet Politifact is defending its August 2020 claim that Kyle Rittenhouse’s possession of an AR-15 was not “perfectly legal,” even though the gun charge against Rittenhouse was dismissed by Judge Bruce Schroeder.
On August 28, 2020 – just three days after Rittenhouse had used the rifle on the streets of Kenosha – Politifact Wisconsin tweeted, “A Facebook post says, ‘At 17 years old Kyle (Rittenhouse) was perfectly legal to be able to possess that rifle without parental supervision.’ That’s False.”
The tweet linked to a PolitiFact article, which said:
In an Aug. 27 post, one Facebook user said it was “perfectly legal” for Kyle Rittenhouse — who was arrested in Antioch, Ill., after fleeing Wisconsin — to brandish an assault-style rifle on the streets of Kenosha.
“Carrying a rifle across state lines is perfectly legal,” the poster said. “Based on the laws I can find of this area at 17 years old Kyle was perfectly legal to be able to possess that rifle without parental supervision.”
The PolitiFact article zeroed in on the phrase “perfectly legal” and opined, “Is that true? State law suggests not.”
Whether Rittenhouse violated Wisconsin law by possessing a firearm underage is the subject of ongoing litigation. But the Facebook post claimed that it was “perfectly legal” for the teenager to carry an assault-style rifle in Kenosha.
At best, that’s unproven. At worst, it’s inaccurate. Either way, we rate the post False.
On November 15, 2021, Breitbart News noted that Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the firearms charge against Rittenhouse, siding with the Defense’s claim that the law is only applicable if Rittenhouse carried a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR).
The prosecution admitted that Rittenhouse was not carrying an SBR.
Despite the dismissal, PolitiFact is standing by its claim that it is “false” to say Rittenhouse’s possession was “perfectly legal.”
The day after Schroeder dismissed the gun charge PolitiFact added an editor’s note to its piece. The note pointed to Associated Press reporting, Wisconsin lawmakers’ intentions, and claims that PolitiFact knew all along that there was a possible exception for rifles.
The editor’s note ended by saying, “These subsequent events show the grey areas of local gun laws — hardly a case of something being ‘perfectly legal.’ Our fact-check remains unchanged.”