NY Times' White House correspondent compares Trump blocking people on Twitter to Iran shutting down the internet

As Allahpundit noted Sunday, Iran has clamped down on Instagram and messaging app Telegram in order to “maintain tranquility.” Today the Associated Press’ Josh Lederman sent out this tweet pointing out that the Trump administration is calling for Iran to restore the internet services amid protests.

Lederman was tweeting about his AP story about statements made by the U.S. State Department:

Following several days of tweets by President Donald Trump rooting on the protesters and declaring that it’s “time for change,” the State Department took it further, arguing that the United States has an “obligation not to stand by.” Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein, in charge of public diplomacy, said the U.S. wants Iran’s government to “open these sites” including the photo-sharing platform Instagram and the messaging app Telegram.

“They are legitimate avenues for communication,” Goldstein said. “People in Iran should be able to access those sites.”

Iranians seeking to evade the blocks can use virtual private networks, Goldstein said. Known as VPNs, the services create encrypted data “tunnels” between computers and are used in many countries to access overseas websites blocked by the local government.

Moments later the NY Times’ White House correspondent seized on Lederman’s tweet to make a point about the president:

Despite the use of some form of the word “block” in both tweets, these situations aren’t remotely the same. Iran is shutting down entire systems of communication, specifically to prevent groups of people from organizing protests and sharing images of their activity. They are limiting communication for everyone in an attempt to dampen opposition to the theocratic regime.

By contrast, Trump has blocked a few individuals. Anyone blocked by Trump can still use the service and can create a new anonymous account and follow the President’s tweets. What Trump has not done is order the FCC to shut down Twitter (or anything else) to limit the opposition to his administration. If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you’ve probably noticed there is no shortage of opposition to the president.

Haberman was quick to point out there is an ongoing lawsuit about Trump blocking people from his official account. A handful of people who have been blocked claim their First Amendment right have been violated. Maybe they’ll win their case, maybe not. But the scale and impact of what we’re talking about is vastly different. And the lawsuit itself doesn’t really help Haberman’s case either. Does anyone think the Ayatollah will be sued by people who lost the use of Instagram? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Haberman is now responding to critics on the right:

Umm…okay. But that’s not at all what she did. She didn’t compare what Trump has done on Twitter with the values of other presidents or the office in general. She compared it with the abuse of civil rights by Iranian mullahs who have already murdered a dozen people in a crackdown on protesters.

More criticism and response:

Again, here’s her response to a tweet about the State Department calling on Iran to re-open the internet. Is there an implied comparison here or not?

Finally, it’s worth noting that literally thousands of people have liked this tweet. Does Haberman think all of those likes (presumably people on the left) somehow understood this was not a comparison between Trump and Iran’s mullahs? She can’t be that naive.

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