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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Black Voters Start To Abandon Biden After Vaccine Mandate
President’s net approval rating among key Democratic constituency is down 12 points since Sept. 9 announcement
- 71% of Black voters approve of Biden’s job performance, down 5 points since the federal vaccine mandate, while the share who disapprove rose 7 points to 24%.
- Biden’s net approval rating among unvaccinated Black voters has plummeted 17 points since before the rollout of the mandates.
- 61% of Black voters approve of Biden’s handling of coronavirus, down 9 points since the end of August.
President Joe Biden’s sweeping federal rules to mandate vaccines hasn’t hurt him with the overall electorate, but it appears to have spurred a weakening of his standing with one of the most reliable pieces of the Democratic Party’s coalition: Black voters.
Since Morning Consult Political Intelligence surveys conducted immediately before Biden’s Sept. 9 mandate announcement, the president’s net approval rating – the share who approve of his job performance minus the share who disapprove – has fallen 12 percentage points among Black voters, driven by a 17-point drop among unvaccinated Black voters.
The September erosion accounted for more than two-fifths of the decline in perceptions of Biden’s job performance to date among Black voters, providing a stark warning sign for Democrats ahead of next year’s midterms. While Black voters, who helped push Biden over the top against President Donald Trump in key states last year, are unlikely to abandon the Democratic Party en masse to back Republicans on the ballot next year, low turnout from the group could have dire consequences for Democrats in Congress, who already face an early enthusiasm gap.
Biden is still popular with most Black voters, with 71 percent of them approving of his job performance, including 37 percent who do so strongly. But since Sept. 8, the share who disapprove of Biden’s job performance has increased 7 points, to 24 percent, and 14 percent said they “strongly disapprove.”
Biden’s Approval Rating Hits New Low of 43%
- Biden’s rating down six points since August, 13 points since June
- Independents’ approval of Biden is 37%, down from 55% in June
- Kamala Harris’ 49% job approval rating matches Biden’s in 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eight months after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, his job approval rating has fallen six percentage points to 43%, the lowest of his presidency. For the first time, a majority, 53%, now disapproves of Biden’s performance.
These findings are from a Sept. 1-17 Gallup poll that was conducted after the U.S. military evacuated more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan. The United States’ exit from the nation’s longest war was marred by the Taliban’s quick takeover of most of the country and a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, which killed 13 U.S. service members. Over the same period, COVID-19 infection rates, nationally, were surging, leading to hospital overflows in some regions.
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