The right-wingnuts of the South Dakota Freedom Caucus have not weighed in on fellow conservative Leah Anderson’s attempt to crush free speech in Minnehaha County. But they sure are making a fuss over Austin Goss’s guilty plea, which they view as a result of some conspiracy to silence reporters:
The right to speak truth to power is quickly being diminished in today’s world where we see some of our country’s top reporters and commentators being silenced, such as Tucker Carlson who was recently removed from his FOX Network television show after an expose on the events from the January 6th protests in Washington D.C. or previously, under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice seizing phone records from investigative journalists.
South Dakota investigative journalist Austin Goss was forced to plead down to a Class 2 misdemeanor of disorderly conduct for a private, prank phone call to former Republican party Chairman Dan Lederman last year, after numerous investigative reports into the Noem administration, the Republican party and other powerful players in the state.
Now more than ever, we at the South Dakota Freedom Caucus believe the right to free speech and the right of the press has never been more important, when faced with being silenced in the onslaught of ever growing authoritarian control over our individual lives. And we can only hope that such voices, like those of Austin Goss, are not discouraged in the aftermath of such persecution, but only grow louder.
We stand with you today in solidarity, and your pursuit of the truth [South Dakota Freedom Caucus, press release, 2023.05.11].
The Freedom Caucus dubiously asserts that Goss “was forced” to plead guilty to disorderly conduct. How so, Freedom Caucus, and by whom? Goss could have gone to court with his well-connected Republican lawyer Jason Glodt and made a strong case that the original charges against him were bogus. Instead, Goss chose to curtail his legal hassle and public scandal and plea to making trouble with a prank call that he himself acknowledges was a dumb idea.
Goss also hasn’t been silenced by any “onslaught of ever-growing authoritarian control”. Private businesses KSFY and KOTA fired him because he showed a lack of judgment and violated company policies and standards of journalistic integrity. Even if the state had filed no charges against Goss, if he’d gone to his bosses and said, “Hey, guess what? I sent the former chairman of the state GOP a prank call and disguised my caller ID with the Governor’s personal cell phone number!” his bosses could well have responded, “You used contact information that you obtained through your professional journalistic activities to play a stupid joke? You’re fired!”
And like Tucker Carlson (not a likening any responsible journalist should crave, but the Freedom Caucus started it), Goss hasn’t been silenced. A week after his arrest, he’s out there in the media, apologizing for his knuckleheadery and averring this is all part of God’s plan (to which I would respond that God is a crappy planner, but do we really want to turn Goss’s canning and the Freedom Caucus’s struttery into a theological debate?).
And as SDGOP spin blogger Pat Powers usefully (!!!) notes, Freedom Caucus members Reps. Tony Randolph and Tina Mulally (both R-35/Rapid City) sponsored the 2022 bill that made using another person’s number for caller ID without that person’s permission a crime, and all of the Freedom Caucus members, including leader Rep. Aaron Aylward (R-6/Harrisburg) voted for it. So if there was some government plot to fry Goss (and I’m not rejecting the idea; I’m just trying to emphasize that it had nothing to do with coastal liberal media elites or Barack Obama and everything to do with the corruption of the South Dakota Republican Party which the Freedom Caucus has yet to meaningfully check), the Freedom Caucusers helped it happen.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucusers’ friend and fellow Trumpist Big Liar Leah Anderson is trying to silence every citizen who attempts to exercise First Amendment rights around the Minnehaha County courthouse and admin building. Where’s the Freedom Caucus’s call to stand in solidarity with petitioners in Sioux Falls?
It seems the Freedom Caucus, just like the bulk of the Republican Party that it criticizes but does not leave, doesn’t really believe in the First Amendment or any principles in general. It just believes in flacking for its friends.