In a rather surprising move, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) expressed a seemingly level-headed opinion on former President Donald Trump's ban from Twitter to New York Times columnist Ezra Klein on Tuesday, saying “I don’t feel comfortable with that” despite his belief that Trump is a “bad-news guy.”
Trump was originally banned from Twitter, alongside other social media platforms, following the Capitol riot on January 6. On February 10, it was reported that the ban from Twitter was permanent, even if the former president decides to run for office again.
"Look, you have a racist, sexist, xenophobe, pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody that doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad news guy," Sanders told Klein for an opinion column. "But 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."
Sanders also said that he doesn’t like “giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people” despite his belief in increasing the power of the federal government. At least, judging from the column, he seems to respect the right to free speech.
“It is an issue that we have got to be thinking about," Sanders added. "Because yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view."
Here's Klein's question with Sanders' full response:
Do you think there is truth to the critique that liberals have become too censorious and too willing to use their cultural and corporate and political power to censor or suppress ideas and products that offend them?
Look, you have a former president in Trump, who was a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad-news guy. But 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.
Now, I don’t know what the answer is. Do you want hate speech and conspiracy theories traveling all over this country? No. Do you want the internet to be used for authoritarian purposes and an insurrection, if you like? No, you don’t. So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about. Because yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.
I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people. But the devil is obviously in the details, and it’s something we’re going to have to think long and hard on.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Facebook's new oversight board is likely to overturn Trump's indefinite suspension. But, the former president may no longer have to wait for approval from Big Tech companies to get back on social media.
In February, senior adviser to Trump, John Miller, said the former president was considering starting his own social media platform. On Sunday, Miller told Fox News' "Media Buzz" that the platform should be surfacing within the next two to three months.
“I do think that we’re going to see President Trump returning to social media in probably about two or three months here, with his own platform,” said Miller.