Sen. Bernie Sanders has become a surprising voice in the effort to get social media giants to unban former President Donald Trump. In the days following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the former president was removed from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms after liberals called for his expulsion due to his alleged role in spurring on the so-called “insurrection,” as dubbed by the media.
On Tuesday, the Vermont senator and long-time opponent of Trump told the New York Times that he did not feel “particularly comfortable” with the ban on the former president.
Sanders said he opposed the de-platforming of Trump, despite his belief that Trump is a “racist, sexist, xenophobe, pathological liar, an authoritarian... a bad news guy.”
“If you’re asking me do I feel particularly comfortable that the then president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that,” he said.
As George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley states, “I would hope that Sanders would take the same view of a non-sitting president or an average citizen. They should all be able to speak freely.”
“Sanders does not go as far as that ‘Internet originalist’ position, but he at least is recognizing the danger of such censorship,” added Turley. “He noted that ‘we have got to be thinking about, because if anybody who thinks yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.’ He stated that it is a danger to have a ‘handful of high tech people’ controlling speech in America.”
Sanders’ view is a departure from that of his Senate colleagues in the Democratic party, who have demanded an increase in corporate censorship, claiming that unfettered speech poses a danger to society.
During a congressional hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who presented himself before members of the Senate to apologize for censoring the New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop story before the election, a number of Democratic senators, including Sen. Mazie Hirono, pressed him and other Big Tech executives for increased censorship and demanded assurance that Trump would remain banned on their platforms.