In spite of prior pro-censorship comments, NBC’s Lester Holt and director Ken Burns are scheduled to receive free speech awards.


NBC’s Lester Holt and filmmaker Ken Burns will receive free speech honors from the Media Institute on Wednesday, despite recent evidence that their adherence to the First Amendment is far from unwavering.

During a virtual “Free Speech America” banquet, Burns will receive the American Horizon Award and Holt will get the Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award.
Our America, a group devoted to advancing patriotism and core American ideals including free expression, disagrees that the Media Institute is honoring the proper individuals.

According to Gabriel Nadales, national director for Our America’s western region, those who seek to outlaw “hate speech” and “misinformation” are essentially granting the capacity to influential individuals to censor communication generally, which is “more damaging to democracy than any falsehood or insult.” He thinks that Burns and Holt are essentially “restriction proponents” who are receiving recognition they don’t deserve.


Lester Holt has actively worked to have political advertisements on Facebook removed because he thinks that those who spread “misinformation” ought to have no place to advertise. Evidently, social media censorship of Americans is part of Ken Burns’ bold leadership. Nadales told Fox News Digital, “To me, these don’t look like people who deserve honors at a banquet that is allegedly promoting free expression.

Nadales stated, “True free-speech warriors aren’t popular because they are willing to protect unpopular views. In contrast, “but unpopular speech is what makes the country grow, because unpopular beliefs either one day become the norm or they serve society by testing its assumptions, so individuals may better defend their principles.”

Greg Lukianoff, a lawyer for free speech, was proposed by Nadales as a superior option because he “fights for the right of students to talk freely.” Additionally, he thinks Daryl Davis would have been a respectable choice because he engages KKK extremists in open dialogue to persuade them to give up their hateful ideologies. He also thinks former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss would have been better suited because she is “willing to stand up to publishing giants for what she believes.”

Instead, Holt and Burns will receive the honors since they both basically asked for Facebook to suppress and quiet some of its users.


During a 2019 interview with Mark Zuckerberg, Holt expressed concern over Facebook’s refusal to censor political advertisements that would permit candidates to employ bogus talking points when he questioned the Facebook CEO, “Do you feel like you’re giving a green light to politicians that lie, lie, lie?”

In response, Zuckerberg said he thought it was important to hear what each candidate had to say and that Americans should evaluate the rhetoric for themselves.

In a democracy, Zuckerberg said, “I don’t think it’s right for a private firm to restrict politicians or the news.”

Who decides what is true can be a contentious issue, as was the case when Twitter and Facebook suppressed discussion of Hunter Biden’s scandalous laptop back when media figures on the left falsely claimed it was Russian disinformation. This is part of the reason why so many conservatives oppose any form of censorship on Facebook.

In a 2021 visit on the New York Times’ “Sway” podcast, award-winning filmmaker and historian Ken Burns referred to Zuckerberg as “an enemy of the state” who should be imprisoned.

This person represents the United States of America’s enemies. Burns remarked, “He doesn’t give an s—- about us, the United States. He is confident that he can overcome it. He has the ability to flee anywhere. Therefore, it’s all about making money for the sake of it.

MARK Zuckerberg of Facebook is described by filmmaker Ken Burns as “an enemy of the state” who belongs in prison.

The host of “NBC Nightly News” has advocated for the banning of political advertisements in general. When accepting a prize at the 45th Murrow Symposium in 2021, Holt also made the infamous claim that journalists are not required to hear both sides of a subject before judging the “truth.”

The idea that we should constantly give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the society we find ourselves in, I think it’s become evident that fairness is overrated,’ Holt added.

“It is a known fact that the sun sets in the west. Any opposing viewpoint is unworthy of our time or consideration, continued Holt. “Decisions not to give unsupported ideas equal time are not a breach of journalistic duty or some type of agenda, in fact, it is just the reverse.”

When issues of public health and safety are involved, Holt stated that “giving an unfettered platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, can be pretty dangerous.” He then asserted that reporters must be “fair to the truth.”

The far left hailed Holt’s statements, but detractors saw them as effectively a dog whistle for liberal journalists who consider themselves as the arbiters of truth and may, therefore, cover the news from a biased perspective with the blessing of NBC’s top anchor. Some people argued that Holt’s statements are irrelevant in today’s society, where vocal leftists frequently hold journalistic positions.

Producer of the Civil War documentary Ken Burns believes that the Federal Statues should be removed.

“In a better world if the major mainstream media had a history of objectivity and fairness, Holt’s claim that journalism inevitably entails information vetting may make sense. William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School and media critic, said at the time: “This is not such a better world; this is a world in which the mainstream big media wears its partisanship on its sleeve, manipulating the news cycle to the favor of Democrats.” “In the actual world, Holt’s advice justifies political bias in the media.”

Barrington Martin II of Our America disagrees with Holt’s remarks but is content to reside in a country that tolerates all sorts of expression.

“We must recognize that every form of communication has its own set of repercussions, but speech should never be forbidden.” No matter how absurdly horrible a person’s rhetoric may be, I will always respect and uphold that person’s freedom to say it because if they can be silenced, then we all have the same right, according to Martin II, who spoke to Fox News Digital.

“Censoring that person is never the solution, even when leaders intentionally seek to mislead others, because censorship typically simply serves to radicalize their fans even more,” the author writes. The greatest method to deal with false information is to address it head-on and demonstrate why it is false, he concluded. “More speech, not fewer, is the best cure for nasty and false speech.”

Tim Graham, the executive editor of NewsBusters, thinks Holt earning the prize is more about “sticking it” to conservatives and Republicans.

Graham said to Fox News Digital, “Handing a Freedom of Speech award to Lester Holt, who took his last journalistic prize with the phrase ‘fairness is overrated,’ says that this award isn’t really for free speech, it’s for liberal bias.” Graham also admitted he wasn’t a big fan of Burns.

Anyone who believes that Ken Burns is a “visionary” must not have seen him draw comparisons between the Holocaust and Ron DeSantis’s shipping of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Graham referred to the liberal filmmaker’s recent agreement with a CNN anchor who said that transferring illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard followed similar themes of authoritarianism found in Nazi Germany as saying “that’s not visionary, that’s a toxic Pants On Fire lie.”

According to its website , the Media Institute is a nonprofit organization that “specializes in communications policy and the First Amendment.”

An inquiry for comments was not immediately answered by the institute.