MINOT, N.D. — I've known Valley News Live commentator Chris Berg for a long time.
In fact, I'm pretty sure his first ventures into political broadcasting happened when I invited him to guest host a radio show.
These days Berg is a commentator for Valley News Live, a television outlet based in Fargo.
I was surprised when I saw, on Sunday morning, Nov. 8, that Berg's Twitter account has been suspended. The message on his account says the account has been suspended for violating Twitter's rules, though the link provided didn't make it clear which specific rule or rules Twitter feels were violated.
I contacted Berg for comment, and he declined to provide one. It seemed he was in the early stages of learning about his suspension and wants to understand more before he comments publicly.
I haven't been following Berg's tweets — I post on Twitter and respond to people but I don't spend a lot of time, or see a lot of value in, scrolling through tweets — so I can't speak to what may have triggered the suspension.
A cache of his profile maintained by Google is only as recent as a 9:10 a.m. post from Thrusday, Nov. 5.
At that time Berg was posting heavily about the election, as you might expect from a political commentator, and a lot about the potential for voting fraud, as you might expect from a conservative commentator in this moment.
Berg's suspension comes amid a national move by social media companies to suppress what they deem as problematic speech. Both Twitter and Facebook took extraordinary measures to censor a pre-election story by the New York Post about the dubious business dealings of Joe Biden's son Hunter. In recent weeks Twitter has suspended the account of a Trump campaign spokesman and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
More broadly, the national news media has taken steps to restrict what Americans are allowed to see and hear. On Nov. 5, the national television networks cut away from a Trump speech in which he was claiming to be the victim of election fraud.
Trump's comments were transparently self-serving and made with barely a patina of evidence, but is it the job of journalists to protect Americans from even the very stupid and untruthful things their elected leaders say?
I've always thought that journalists should show things, not hide them.
On the social media front, Facebook and Twitter have long sold themselves to the American people as platforms for free and easy communication. They've protected themselves from the sort of liability traditional media outlets have when it comes to inaccurate or libelous content by claiming they don't edit or curate the content others post on their service.
If that were ever true, it certainly isn't now.
Which brings us back to Berg. He's going to stay in touch with me as to what happened with his account. It will be interesting to see what the justification for his suspension was.
Love his commentary or hate it, he is a member of the news media working for a well-established media outlet, and he's currently silenced on one of the most consequential platforms for communication in America today.
I realize it's fashionable, in this angry moment, to want dissenting voices to shut up, but from the perspective of history, when have good things ever come from silencing people?
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.