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“That’s disappointing and a little embarrassing”: Florida Republican slams former Biden official over First Amendment confusion


Florida – The clash between Republicans and Democrats over issues of free speech and government censorship has grown increasingly contentious. At a recent hearing, Florida Republican Rep. Kat Cammack confronted Robert Flaherty, the former White House Director of Digital Strategy, about his inability to recall all five tenets of the First Amendment.

Robert Flaherty struggled to name all five tenets of the First Amendment when asked by Florida Republican Rep. Kat Cammack. Despite being involved in significant efforts to influence social media companies to restrict certain viewpoints during his tenure, Flaherty could not recall the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Hearing and Flaherty’s Response

When asked by Cammack to state the five tenets of the First Amendment, Flaherty replied, “Congresswoman, I’m not gonna be able to do it off the top of my head, but generally the First Amendment relates to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly.” He admitted, “Off the top of my head, I’m not able to recall all of the planks.”

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The five core tenets of the First Amendment, according to U.S. Courts, are the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.

Cammack’s Reaction

Rep. Cammack expressed disappointment in Flaherty’s inability to fully articulate the First Amendment’s core principles, stating, “Oof, well that’s disappointing and a little embarrassing, but not surprising considering what we’re dealing with here today.” She went on to remark, “I certainly wouldn’t expect that someone who can’t outline the basic tenets of the First Amendment to uphold the First Amendment, of which you took an oath to defend, but here we are today.”

Flaherty’s Role and Influence on Social Media

During his tenure as White House Director of Digital Strategy, Flaherty worked closely with social media companies to influence their handling of COVID-19 and vaccination-related content. In April 2021, he demanded that a Facebook employee censor a video made by Tucker Carlson, discussing COVID-19 vaccines.

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In September, Politico reported that Flaherty would play a major role in the Biden campaign’s 2024 election efforts to combat “false narratives.”

Wider Efforts to Address Misinformation

The Biden administration’s campaign to counter misinformation was not limited to Flaherty. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) had an advisory committee that issued recommendations in June 2022 to tackle information risks to public health, the financial system, and elections. The committee collaborated with left-leaning research groups and pro-censorship organizations to identify and counter misinformation.

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Flaherty’s inability to recall the First Amendment’s fundamental principles raises questions about his capacity to lead the fight against misinformation while safeguarding constitutional freedoms.

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