Ocasio-Cortez and Her Media Ministry of Truth

January 16th, 2021 4:00 PM

So here was the headline from The New York Post: "AOC says Congress may form commission to ‘rein in’ media after Capitol riot." 

Said the Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 

“There’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed but it seems to be more investigating in style rather than truth and reconciliation,” she said.

“I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is part of what happened here,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) went on.

“We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said. 

Let’s cut to the chase. The objective here is to silence the press. As so many people have quickly said, this is straight out of Orwell’s 1984 with its “Ministry of Truth.” (For more on how journalists are looking the other way at Ocasio-Cortez's shocking comments, see the MRC's Scott Whitlock.) 

Yet as unerring as Orwell was with his fiction… it was fiction. But in fact, what AOC is proposing has been a regular feature of one dictatorship after another over the decades. So let’s focus on one.

Over there at the “Libertarianism” site attorney David D’Amato, a policy advisor to the Future of Freedom Foundation and the Heartland Institute as well as a frequent contributor to countless conservative publications has penned a seriously relevant historical piece titled “Mussolini and the Press.”

D’Amato writes this of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, bold print for emphasis:

“A gifted propagandist acutely conscious of the relationship between political power and optics, Mussolini established a High Commission for the press in the spring of 1929. Insisting that the Commission would not interfere with the freedom of the press, Mussolini’s Keeper of the Seals, Alfredo Rocco, nevertheless maintained an exception for ‘any activity contrary to the national interest,’ ‘faithfulness to the Fatherland”’ naturally assuming the position of ultimate importance. 

Journalists were, like all other professions, encouraged to see their occupation as one of many forms of service to the nation, to participate actively in the education and inculcation of the Italian people. Recall that Mussolini saw himself as a revolutionary and his government as a living embodiment of transformative new ideas. The transmittal of these ideas and relatedly the cultivation of a soldierly esprit de corps was, to Mussolini’s mind, a primary responsibility of the Italian press. No such idea of adversarial journalism, of subjecting the actions of state to investigation and scrutiny, was to infect the minds of the nation’s newspaper writers and editors. Rather Mussolini contended that “Fascism requires militant journalism,” the country’s newspapers presenting themselves “as a solid bloc,” committed to “the Cause” and obscuring or outrightly burying any fact or story antithetical to it. 

Even more than post‐ factum censorship, Mussolini favored this kind of proactive steering of the press, hardly subtle and clearly defining his expectations as both military and civilian leader of the people. In Fascist Italy, social and political pressures—and the resultant self‐ policing by the media—were at least as important as actual legal proscriptions, probably much more important. 

Having been a writer and editor himself, Mussolini understood the power of ideas generally and the written word in particular. As early as 1923, his government had proposed comprehensive censorship legislation, and he was particularly intent on prohibiting or otherwise controlling the publications of rival political parties. 

In other words? A United States congresswoman is echoing not just Orwell’s novel about a fascist Ministry of Truth. She is echoing the hard historical reality of Mussolini’s fascist High Commission for the press” when she says “There’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed…We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation.”

Also note this from the D’Amato column, where he says Mussolini’s  fascists “conducted violent raids on bookstores.” Now check this story from this week out of Portland, Oregon. Here’s the headline from Reason. "Antifa Demands Powell's Stop Selling Andy Ngo's Book, Forces Store To Close Early." 

The story says this: 

“Far-left activists surrounded Powell's Books in Portland on Monday and demanded the store stop selling Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, a book about antifa written by Andy Ngo. The protests forced the store to close early.

Powell's announced that it would not carry the book in its physical store, though it will still be available for purchase online.”

Which is to say, the attack on Powell’s bookstore is, as with AOC’s “commission” that would “rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” exactly out of the Mussolini blueprint for a fascist country.

It is very safe to say that America is at a seriously dangerous moment. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, Apple and Snap are all engaged in actively banning conservatives. As James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has documented with an insider’s video of Twitter’s boss Jack Dorsey, Dorsey is making plain what is coming: 

“We are focused on one account [@realDonaldTrump] right now, but this is going to be much bigger than just one account, and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week, and the next few weeks, and go on beyond the inauguration.”

All around us are examples of this looming fascism. Over at Forbes magazine one Randall Lane, the chief content officer and editor of Forbes,  is calling for companies to refuse to hire former Trumpers, saying this

“Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.”

In other words, Lane has made a bold, quite open threat to private companies to do as Forbes says - or else.

There is more of this decidedly un-American intolerance breaking out across the country. 

Harvard recently removed U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Harvard graduate and Trump supporter, from the Senior Advisory Committee of its Institute of Politics. Note well that the announcement was made by the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, one Douglas W. Elmendorf. Elmendorf clearly missed the irony of what he was doing. 

The school is named for Harvard’s famous graduate, President John F. Kennedy. And all one has to do is pick up Kennedy’s first book, Why England Slept, that was written when the young JFK was a Harvard college student. As it happens, I have the book. And the book cover says JFK’s book was about “a sober and serious study of the shortcomings of democracy when confronted by the menace of totalitarianism.” Wherever he is, one suspects the late President would decidedly not approve of what was done to Stefanik using his name.)

It is fact that what AOC is proposing with her Ministry of Truth, exactly as Mussolini actually did with his fascists, is a government commission to silence the press.

Not good. Not good at all.

Buckle in.