Earlier this week, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez preached a sermon to her 8 million Instagram followers about the need for a congressional “truth and reconciliation” committee. If those words have a familiar ring, it’s probably because they call to mind George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. But they are also reminiscent of Barack Obama’s Truth Team. Remember the Truth Team, which was an outgrowth of his AttackWatch? It was to be comprised of a citizen army of volunteer fact checkers who would blow the whistle on neighbors and others who perpetrated falsehoods and distortions.
Ocasio-Cortez’s committee would differ in that the legislative branch, not the executive, would be the arbiter and would presumably appoint the fact checkers. But the net result would be the same. Liars in the media, and I am guessing that umbrella term includes the already heavily policed social media, would be brought to heel. What would happen next — whether the offenders were sent off to “re-education” camps — remains to be seen.
In her sermon, Ocasio-Cortez explained, “[W]e’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation.” Misinformation: That would be like visiting one of the border patrol’s detention centers and reporting back that detainees were forced to drink out of the toilet. Only that particular lie was spread not by the media but by Ocasio-Cortez herself. No word yet on whether there would be an “truth and reconciliation” committee to fact check members of Congress.
So which media outlets would Ocasio-Cortez’s committee rein in? This is just a hunch, but I’m guessing that CNN, MSNBC, the broadcast networks and mega-dailies like the New York Times and Washington Post would be excluded. After all, they are all honest as the day is long and, hence, need no scrutinizing.
But there’s a bigger problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal noted by Reason’s Robby Soave. Namely, the First Amendment explicitly bars Congress from infringing on freedom of the press or freedom of speech.