Daily Media Links 11/16

November 16, 2021   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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In the News

LevittownNow.com: Pennsbury In Federal Court Over Enforcement Of School Board Policies

By Tom Sofield

A federal judge in Philadelphia is deciding whether to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the Pennsbury School Board from enforcing Policy 903 and Policy 922, which the plaintiffs claim infringes on their First Amendment rights…

The request for an injunctioncame from…a group of Lower Makefield Township residents who have filed a federal lawsuit alleging the local government violated their First Amendment rights against the district, school board, its attorneys, and staff…

Policy 903 allows the board and solicitor to “interrupt or terminate a participant’s statement when the statement is too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant.”

Policy 922, which was introduced earlier this year, blocks “offensive, inappropriate, intolerant, and/or threatening speech or behavior erodes the civil, orderly, and respectful environment that the Board seeks to promote in district schools, on district property, and at district-sponsored events and activities.”

Attorney Del Kolde, who represented the plaintiffs through the Institute for Free Speech, argued the board has no problem allowing “personally directed” comments when they are positive, but the board blocks that speech using Policy 903 when it criticizes the district or board.

Kolde displayed a video compilation for the judge of the speakers making comments the school board did not like and shutting them down…

Kolde told the judge the board’s actions have stifled residents from expressing their opinions.

Florida Today: Brevard County School Board to vote on new chair, reconsider public speaking policy

By Bailey Gallion

The Brevard County School Board will vote Tuesday to elect a new chair and begin discussing changes to its new public speaker policy…

The Brevard County School Board’s public participation policy has in fact become the subject of legal action. Conservative group Moms for Liberty and four of its members filed a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court last week, saying that speakers have been halted from expressing their free speech when their views did not align with the board.

The Moms for Liberty members said that they were silenced via a policy that allows the chair of the board to stop speakers from making comments that are “obscene,” “abusive” or “personally directed.” The lawsuit provided examples of instances where people were interrupted during public comment when making criticisms of the board, while the same rules weren’t applied to people who were praising the board.

Internet Speech Regulation

The Hill: Bipartisan commission urges US take immediate steps to curb online misinformation

By Maggie Miller

A report from a bipartisan commission published Monday recommends that U.S. government and social media platform leaders take a series of immediate steps to curb the “crisis of trust and truth” stemming from online disinformation and misinformation.

The report, put out by the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, puts forward recommendations that can be taken to address issues including election security and COVID-19 disinformation and misinformation online, painting a picture of an urgent moment to take action…

The report outlines dozens of recommendations to address the crisis, including creating a “national response strategy” to establish roles and responsibilities for fighting disinformation and misinformation across the executive branch, investing in local journalism, diversifying social media platform workforces, and investing in civic education…

The report also recommends that changes be made to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants legal immunity to social media platforms for what is posted on their sites, to withdraw that immunity for misleading content promoted through paid advertisements and for product features. 

Wall Street Journal: Left-Leaning Media Seek a Misinformation Monopoly

By Gerard Baker

The big buzzword on the left these days is—absolutely without irony—“misinformation.” Many of the big mediacompanies now have teams of reporters to cover “misinformation” or, more conspiratorially, “disinformation.” …

The aim is a full-bore corporate and regulatory crackdown on news and information that doesn’t help their cause. They want the memory-holing of the Hunter Biden story to be the model for all news dissemination.

The recent brouhaha over the Facebook whistleblower who exposed internal debate at the company about the content on its platform emphasizes this. It underscores how important it is for conservatives not to be tempted down the primrose path of regulatory redress. It’s not the harm the company may be doing to teenage girls’ self-esteem that’s driving the mainstream media’s criticism; it’s the harm that the plethora of conservative news sites and commentators that dominate Facebook’s newsfeed is doing to the self-esteem of corporate media.

This is the ultimate objective of those who have fed us so much falsity for so long now. They want the primary channels of digital information, not only social platforms but search too, to be as epistemically closed as the rest of the media is currently.

They live in a self-contained world where only one sort of information counts as misinformation, and they intend to get us all into that world. Then, by their own impeccable Orwellian logic, there will be no misinformation. Only truth, duly enforced.

Fundraising

Insider: A Democratic operative started a group to raise money for candidates. Then his firm bagged most of the cash raised.

By Kayla Epstein

If you clicked on a Facebook ad or an email from a political action committee called When Democrats Turn Out, you might think all the money you donated was going straight to your favored candidate.

But most of When Democrats Turn Out’s disbursements — the amount of money it spends — have gone to a Democratic-aligned digital firm called Basecamp Strategy, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Both When Democrats Turn Out PAC and Basecamp Strategy were founded by the same person, Mike Reid, in 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile…

This kind of PAC-consultant relationship isn’t necessarily illegal thanks to US campaign-finance laws, Michael Beckel, a research director at Issue One, told Insider. But it serves as a cautionary note to well-intentioned donors on either side of the aisle…

Few everyday donors have the time and skill to untangle the convoluted web connecting PACs to candidates, consultants, party apparatuses, and private firms. And that benefits the shadowy world of political fundraising.

“There’s a lot of money to be raised in politics — there’s a lot of donors who want to open their wallets,” Beckel said. “There’s a lot of folks out there who are able to raise money from well-intentioned people and line their own pockets in the process.”

“It’s ultimately up to the donors to see if they think the money is being shepherded in a good way,” he said.

Taxpayer-Financed Campaigns

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore County executive proposes public campaign finance legislation

By Taylor DeVille

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced a bill creating public financing that candidates for the Baltimore County Council and county executive could start using in 2026.

The bill, which will create what Olszewski and others have called a “fair election fund,” will be introduced at the council’s Nov. 15 session, streamed virtually. Democratic Council Chair Julian Jones and Republican Councilman David Marks are co-sponsoring the bill.

“Money should never be a barrier to running for office,” Olszewski said. And, as the council is central to a redistricting debate that critics worry will underrepresent Black residents, Olszewski hopes the fund will “empower a more diverse group of candidates.”

The legislation would require candidates for council and county executive to meet different qualifying thresholds for eligibility. Council candidates who want to opt in first have to raise a total of $10,000 in contributions from at least 125 donors. Those running for the county’s top seat must raise at least $40,000 from 500 or more contributors. All contributors must be county residents.

That measure is meant to safeguard the fund from candidates running frivolous campaigns to take advantage of the funding, said Rishi Shah, a spokesman for Maryland PIRG, a member organization of the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups which advocates for various public interest issues…

For qualifying council candidates the county would provide matching funds on a sliding scale. For every eligible donation, a council candidate would get $4 from the county for every dollar of the first $50 donated; $3 per dollar for each of the second $50, and $2 per dollar donated for the third $50 increment.

The States

NPR Illinois: Pritzker signs law banning dark money, out-of-state contributions in judicial campaigns

By Hannah Meisel

Campaign contributions from out-of-staters and so-called dark money groups will be banned in Illinois judicial campaigns beginning in January under legislation Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law Monday.

Several states have enacted laws forcing disclosure of funders to nonprofits — including social welfare groups [501(c)4s], labor unions [501(c)5s] and industry trade groups [501(c)6s], 501(c)4s, 5s and 6’s — whose political spending is referred to as “dark money,” since those groups aren’t required to make their donors public.

But Illinois’ new law takes a different tact, banning judicial candidates from taking campaign contributions from any entity that doesn’t disclose its funders…

The law also bans out-of-state contributions to judicial candidates and clarifies already-illegal campaign contributions in Illinois, including money from anonymous sources…

Republicans voted against Stuart’s legislation last month, with several members arguing during the House debate that the majority party was making another adjustment in state elections law to benefit their party…

Republicans voiced concern that Stuart’s legislation is unconstitutional in the face of Citizens United, but Stuart cited three cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that judicial candidates should be regarded differently than other politicians and otherwise found that excessive judicial campaign contributions could violate due process in a case involving the donor down the line.

Tiffany Donnelly

https://www.ifs.org/author/tdonnelly/

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