YouTube U-Turn: Censors Strike Again for No Good Reason, Just as Inexplicably Reverse Course

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YouTube’s censors have struck again, removing a podcast discussing election integrity that it claims violates its “misinformation policy.” 

The podcast, hosted by Jacob Kersey, was an interview of me at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, in February 2021 and had been on YouTube for more than a year before it was suddenly taken down. 

YouTube never responded to Kersey’s appeal of the ban, but a day after Douglas Blair wrote about the censorship in The Daily Signal, the video suddenly reappeared on the website. Kersey says he received no explanation from YouTube for its actions.

You can view the video here (unless YouTube changes its mind again). However, if you would like to read my conversation with Kersey, what follows is a transcript of my conversation with him, only lightly edited to remove our verbal “ahhs” and “oops” that you always hear in a verbal exchange. 

You can judge for yourself whether we engaged in any “misinformation” or whether YouTube just repeated its egregious, partisan behavior of censoring any discussions that it doesn’t like politically to ensure that any factual information that it thinks the public shouldn’t have is suppressed. It appears it was embarrassed when it got caught and reversed its decision.

(Attention, Elon Musk: Are you interested in another takeover?)

This interview is just a general discussion of the public concern about election integrity and some specific, proven cases of fraud in specific elections in North Carolina and New Jersey, as well as a discussion of federal legislation and what states should do to improve their election systems.

Note that there’s no discussion of who we think won or didn’t win the 2020 election, which is apparently verboten by YouTube censors. (The German word “verboten” means “forbidden,” and seems an appropriate word to use for YouTube’s censorship, since it’s reminiscent of the Nazis’ Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), also known simply as the Ministry of Propaganda (Propagandaministerium), which was run by Joseph Goebbels). 

I mention the Reich Ministry of Propaganda for a very specific reason.  Since my grandmother and mother were German, they saw the censorship of the Reich Ministry in the 1930s.

I heard lots of stories from them about their traumatic experiences that made me realize at a very young age just how important our First Amendment is, and how vital the free flow of information and opinions is to maintaining a democratic system.

Despite the reappearance of this video, it’s clear from YouTube’s actions in this and many other instances of its censorship that the people who work at YouTube obviously have neither an understanding of, nor respect for, those principles.

What has been added to the transcript are some hyperlinks in [brackets] backing up factual discussions, although, apparently, citing newspaper stories or findings of courts and government agencies is still “misinformation” in YouTube’s eyes.

Jacob Kersey: And, we are back. More coverage of CPAC 2021 here with “The Jacob Kersey Program,” and I’m excited to have Hans von Spakovsky from The Heritage Foundation on the show.

He is the manager of The Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative and he is an authority on many things, including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, and immigration.

Hans, thank you so much for coming over here today.

Hans von Spakovsky: I appreciate you inviting me on.

Kersey: So, when you look around at last year and even running over into this year, there are a lot of people, especially on the right, who have concerns about America’s election integrity.

And those concerns are being dismissed by social media giants and Big Tech companies, and even politicians on the left and celebrities on the left.

They’re saying that those concerns are nothing but conspiracy theories, nothing but people whining because they lost.

But, I have to tell you, there are a lot of people I know who could care less who won, whether it was [Donald] Trump or [Joe] Biden, but they’re really concerned about future elections because they noticed a lot of irregularities this past election.

You’ve been studying election integrity and been looking at it before the 2020 elections. You were looking at it back in 2018.

So, what have you been seeing with our election system? Can Americans trust America’s election process?

Von Spakovsky: Well, at the moment that trust is a bit shaky [see this poll confirming a lack of public trust in the election system], and it should be.

The reason for that is that our election system these days is filled with security holes and vulnerabilities that, unfortunately, people are willing to take advantage of.

Anybody who doubts that, or believes this narrative myth that the left pushes, “Oh, there’s no election fraud in the country,” I suggest you go to the Heritage website, where we now maintain an Election Fraud Database.

It is a database of proven election fraud cases from across the country. It’s not even a comprehensive list. It’s just a sampling. We’re now up to 1,311 proven cases from across the country [The website is now up to 1,353 proven cases of fraud, but apparently it is “misinformation” to provide access to such data.]

And, by proven, I mean, somebody was convicted in a court of law of engaging in fraud, or a judge ordered a new election because of fraud. So, these aren’t just unsubstantiated claims. [You will find newspaper articles or court filings documenting each and every case in the database, but providing such proof apparently violates YouTube’s “policy.”]

These are real cases, and what they show is all kinds of vulnerabilities in our system.

As an example, we have everything in the database from people who are not U.S. citizens registering and voting. We have people who are dead, credited with voting after they’re already dead. We have people who got registered in more than one state and illegally voted in more than one state, casting multiple ballots.

It’s just one thing after another like that. And, unfortunately, many states don’t have the procedures in place to prevent that from happening.

Kersey: So, Heritage has a database, you said.

Von Spakovsky: Yes.

Kersey: Over 1,000 samples of proven voter fraud cases.

Von Spakovsky: Correct.

Kersey: This is just a sample; not even a comprehensive list. That just blows my mind. Now, why is this partisan? Why is it partisan right now, when you have proven cases of people voting in more than one state illegally? Why is this a partisan issue?

Von Spakovsky: Well, it’s really odd. It used to not be a partisan issue. In fact, if you go back 30 years, you’ll find many of these cases were actually uncovered by enterprising reporters working for major newspapers.

But, in the last 30 years, the ideological left has decided that they’ve got to deny election fraud exists because that way they can oppose any of the reforms that folks want to put in place to fix these problems. The media has just gone along with that.

That’s why, for example, when states put in a commonsense reform that Americans overwhelmingly support, voter ID, the left goes all out to stop that [80% of Americans support voter ID, which YouTube apparently doesn’t want you to know].

And you see media saying, “Oh, there’s no reason for voter ID law because there’s just no fraud in elections,” which is simply not true that we don’t have fraud.

They use that as a way of opposing reforms and for actually getting rid of some of the basic safety protocols that we have in place to try to prevent fraud.

Kersey: So, can you help me understand something? When I look back at 2016, I remember the same people were saying, “There’s vote fraud today.”

Back in 2016, we’re talking about Russia collusion and how Russia intervened in the election and helped Donald Trump win.

How are they getting away with changing the tune like that? Because, for three-and-a-half years, it was Russian collusion and the fraud Russia was involved in with the last election.

Then, all of a sudden, now it’s magically, “Oh, there’s no voter fraud.” How are they getting away with that shift in tone so easily?

Von Spakovsky: When you have the big social media platforms on your side, when you have most of the media on your side, it gives them the ability to come up with the story that, frankly, I would label as propaganda, that they want to propagate.

They figure, “If we keep repeating the same thing over and over and over again, people will begin to believe it’s the truth,” but it’s not the truth.

Not only does our database prove it, but, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time upheld a voter ID law that had been passed by Indiana. And, in upholding it, they said, “Look, the U.S. has a long history of voter fraud. It’s been documented by journalists and historians, and it could make the difference in a close election.” [The case was Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.]

That, of course, is the key. It might not make the difference in an election that somebody wins by a wide margin. But, in a close election, it could make the difference.

I don’t know if you remember this, but in the 2018 congressional elections, one congressional race was overturned in the North Carolina 9th  Congressional District.

Why was it overturned? Because of absentee ballot fraud perpetrated by a political consultant and his staff, all of whom got indicted and criminally charged. 

The state board of elections, after investigating it, overturned the election. They had to hold a new election. [Here is an article from The Atlantic confirming this, a liberal source that YouTube no doubt thinks only speaks the Gospel truth.]

Kersey: Now, are you sure Facebook’s fact-checkers have verified that’s true?

Von Spakovsky: They have a hard time denying that one, since the state board of elections said, “No, we’ve got to have a new election.” And they had a new election.

Kersey: But, that was only two years ago, 2020. And, if you say anything about voter fraud on social media, you could be banned.

Von Spakovsky: I know. It’s because they don’t want to talk about it. Look, you want something more recent? Last summer, right before the November election, they had a municipal City Council election in Paterson, New Jersey, and the same thing happened. There was apparently widespread absentee ballot fraud, and a judge overturned the election of one of the members of the City Council and the state attorney general, who’s a Democrat, criminally charged four locals, including one of the candidates, with engaging in absentee ballot fraud.

And, has anybody heard about that? No, there’s not a lot of publicity or media coverage given of that. [Even CNN carried a story about this. Does YouTube think CNN is providing “misinformation”?]

Kersey: And if people try to share it, they  could be, they probably were, banned.

Von Spakovsky: They could be, yes.

Kersey: Right, canceled. So, I guess my next question is, a lot of people want this to be fixed, and a lot of people just want to have trust in the election.

At this point, even for me, it’s beyond just, “Oh, Donald Trump didn’t get elected. We got Joe Biden.” It’s beyond that.

It’s, “I want to trust America’s election process and I want my children and my grandchildren to be able to have faith in America’s election system.”

So, maybe over the next, I don’t know, I’ll give you a time frame, six to 12 months, what do we need to do here in America to ensure that the midterms coming up in 2022, that people trust that election process?

Von Spakovsky: Good question. There are two things that need to be done. The first immediate thing is to stop a bill that is working its way through Congress right now.

It’s called HR 1. [Here is our fact sheet on HR 1—unless YouTube wants to deny that this bill exists.]

[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi is bringing it to the floor the first week in March, without committee hearings, which tells you they really want to get it through fast.

HR 1 is a complete federal takeover of the administration of elections. Taking the power away from the states, which have run elections since the beginning of our history.

It imposes all these terrible mandates and does really bad things, like, any state that has a voter ID law in place, you can no longer enforce it. So, they’ve got to stop HR 1. Hopefully, that can be stopped.

If that’s the case, then what also needs to happen right away is, remember, most state legislatures are meeting right now in the first quarter of the year.

Those states need to be amending their election laws to fix these problems. If they’re not sure what to do, The Heritage Foundation, where I work, just released a fact sheet that is our “best practices” recommendations for state election laws. [YouTube, the fact sheet really exists.]

It’s basically a recipe, a menu for how states should handle absentee ballots, voter registration, everything.

You follow this in your state legislatures, and you’ll have the best election system, and one you can have confidence in.

Kersey: That’s great. A lot of the audience is looking at America right now, and they’re praying that House bill that you mentioned can be stopped.

But, you know, since conservatives are not in power in Washington, how are we going to stop something like that from being passed?

Von Spakovsky: I would tell you two things about that.

First of all, take the frustration and anger you’re feeling about what happened last year and channel it into trying to stop HR 1.

The way to do it is to contact your state legislators and tell them, “You need to be talking to our members of the House and our senators in Washington, tell them you did not vote for this.”

It doesn’t matter whether they’re Republican legislators or Democratic legislators, because what they should be saying to them is, “Look, you may or may not like the provisions in HR 1, but you should resent the idea that Washington is going to tell us how to run elections in our state.”

State legislators, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, ought to be saying, “We are the ones who are going to decide how to run elections in our state, not folks in Washington.”

That’s the way of talking, like I said, to the Democratic side of the aisle. But I would do everything I can, call Congress, bring their switchboard down, phone them, phone your congressmen, email them, send them letters saying, “Do not pass HR1.”

Kersey: Got a lot of work to do, especially in my home state of Georgia. Definitely going to be working on that.

And so, Hans, I appreciate you coming on today. Can you tell my audience who wants to get involved and who wants to know more how they can connect with what you’re doing at Heritage and also the Heritage database you mentioned?

Von Spakovsky: Just go to Heritage.org. If you click on “Issues,” you can bring up election integrity, and it’s got the database, our recommendations for state laws, and our facts about HR1 and why it’s a terrible bill. All that’s right there.

Kersey: And this is far more than just President Donald Trump winning or losing. This is America’s election system for future generations.

This is such an important issue, especially in a great nation like America. We need to ensure that the American people and future generations have confidence in our election system.

So, thank you so much for what you and The Heritage Foundation are doing.

Von Spakovsky: Thanks a lot for having me. And I appreciate the work you’re doing on this, too.

Kersey: Thank you.

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