Dipsh*t Michigan Republican Wants To Register All Fact Checkers So They Can Be Punished
A Michigan state legislator who has repeatedly promoted Donald Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was "stolen" by Joe Biden has now introduced legislation that would require all "fact checkers" to register with the state of Michigan and be bonded, so they can be sued if their journalism is bad.
Well yes, of course it flies in the face of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press. Why would that get in his way?
And with the Republican Party now devolving into a fascist gang, state Rep. Matt Maddock (R) even managed to get eight cosponsors for his "Fact Checker Registration Act," instead of being laughed right out of the state Capitol. But then, since Trump lost the election, Michigan Republicans don't just tolerate ridiculous bullshit, they wallow in it.
Maddock's dumb bill casts a pretty wide net in defining who would need to register with the secretary of state's office, as HuffPo explains. Fittingly, the bill's own definition of "fact checker" includes an error.
Under Maddock's proposal, a "fact checker" is defined as someone who is paid by a national or international fact-checking organization, is a member of the International Fact Check Network, publishes content in Michigan and presents themselves to the public as a fact-checker. (The text of the bill appears to incorrectly refer to the International Fact-Checking Network, a Poynter Institute initiative that connects fact-checkers across the world, as the "International Fact Check Network.")
Just for added fun, the bill specifies that fact checkers who fail to register with the state could be fined $1000 a day for each violation. That's pretty rich, considering that most of those who fall under the bill's purview wouldn't actually be in Michigan, but would be in big trouble anyway if anything they write can reach Michigan via the internet tubes.
The bill would also require all such fact checkers to post a million-dollar fidelity bond with the secretary of state. Then, if someone wants to contest something written in a fact-checking piece, they could sue against that bond:
An "affected person" could bring a civil action in any county district court to claim the bond for "any wrongful conduct that is a violation of the laws of this state." The bond could be forfeited at the discretion of the judge for "demonstrable harm" stemming from something a fact checker wrote, Maddock wrote.
The bill doesn't bother defining "wrongful conduct," because presumably that would include anything the lying media publishes.
Hilariously, the text of the bill doesn't actually specify that anyone actually write about Michigan to be required to register. Presumably, Wonkette would need to register and post a million-dollar bond in Michigan because we've taken issue with the Washington Post's fact-check columns.
This all sounds super legal and certain to be upheld by federal courts at all levels, assuming the judges have been lobotomized.
Maddock first floated the idea of registering fact checkers shortly after the election, and repeated his case for the idea in a Facebook post last week. He explained that
Social Media companies deplatform people, politicians, and businesses on the basis of "Fact Checkers" who relish their role punishing those whom they deem 'false'. Many believe this enormous economic and social power is being abused. Who are these Fact Checkers? We're going to find out. My legislation will put Fact Checkers on notice: don't be wrong, don't be sloppy, and you better be right.
We can certainly see why Maddock would want to go after fact checkers, since he and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, have played a large role in radicalizing the state GOP and also seem to be responsible for spreading a fair number of lies themselves.
Here, have a few f'rinstances from the Detroit Metro Times:
Three days after the general election, Maddock riled up a crowd of angry Trump supporters who descended on the TCF Center in downtown Detroit to disrupt vote counters. Earlier in the day, Matt Maddock falsely claimed on social media that 35,000 ballots "showed up out of nowhere" in the middle of the night and that Democrats "were pretty much cheating in front of poll watchers." [...]
On Jan. 5, a day before the insurrection, Maddock and 10 other Republican lawmakers from Michigan wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, urging him not to certify the election, questioning "the validity of hundreds of thousands of ballots" in battleground states.
During the latest outbreak of COVID-19 infections in Michigan, Meshawn Maddock tweeted a lie claiming that face masks are "Ineffective, Harmful (physically n mentally) and Never Intended for General Population Use," and urging people to sue employers who require they be worn.
Also too, following the election, the Detroit News points out, the Maddocks were
among a group of Republicans who tried to enter the Michigan Capitol to cast their own electoral votes for Donald Trump.
They were turned away by security.
However, according to a document filed in a court case, Meshawn was one of 16 Michigan Trump "electors" who signed a certificate of votes for the president, who lost the state's election. The document said the GOP electors had "convened" in the Capitol, but they weren't actually allowed inside the building.
Ms. Maddock also claimed to have organized 20 busloads of Michigan residents to travel to Washington DC to oppose the certification of the 2020 election on January 6. Say, any lies regarding that one?
The Maddocks claimed they weren't able to get into the area where Trump was speaking that day, but Meshawn Maddock's social media posts appear to contradict that claim.
"The most incredible crowd and sea of people I've ever walked with <3," Meshawn Maddock wrote in a quote-tweet of a video showing Trump supporters marching to the Capitol.
It's really quite inspiring to see such nice truthy people fighting for accurate journalism, to be sure.
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