[Fox News] Law professor: First Amendment can be ‘Achilles heel,’ makes US ‘particularly vulnerable to disinformation’

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MSNBC legal analyst Barbara McQuade argued Monday that the United States’ “deep commitment to free speech” makes Americans uniquely susceptible to disinformation campaigns.

McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor, went on “The Rachel Maddow Show” to promote her new book, “Attack from Within: How Disinformation is Sabotaging America.” She said her “goal” with the book was to spark a “national conversation about truth and our commitment to it.” 

She added, “I hope that by dissecting it, explaining it, and educating the public, we can all see disinformation for what it is so that we can begin to push back against it.”

When asked by host Rachel Maddow whether America is just as susceptible to disinformation as other countries, McQuade argued that it is even more vulnerable.

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“Actually, Rachel, I think we’re more susceptible to it than other countries, and that’s because some of our greatest strengths can also be our Achilles Heel,” McQuade said. “So, for example, our deep commitment to free speech in our First Amendment. It is a cherished right. It’s an important right in democracy, and nobody wants to get rid of it, but it makes us vulnerable to claims [that] anything we want to do related to speech is censorship.”

She argued, “Of course, the Supreme Court has held that all fundamental rights, even the right to free speech, can be limited as long as there is a compelling governmental interest and the restriction is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. But I think any time someone tries to do anything that might limit free speech, people claim censorship.”

McQuade held up as an example this week’s Supreme Court cases regarding state laws about how social media platforms moderate content.

“We need to have a conversation and common-sense solutions to these things,” she said. “Instead, we throw out terms like ‘censorship,’ call each other names, use labels and retreat to our opposite sides. We need to be pragmatic and come up with real solutions.”

“But, it is, I think, one of the things that makes America particularly vulnerable to disinformation,” she concluded.

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Maddow praised the book’s arguments and touted McQuade’s work as a “real public service and a pleasure.”

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