YouTube pulls video of Pa. Republican gubernatorial forum

Chris Brennan
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

The first question posed to Republicans running for governor in Pennsylvania during a forum Thursday: How would they "restore election integrity?"

YouTube apparently didn't like some of the answers.

The social media video platform on Sunday took down a video of the forum, telling the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which hosted the event, it "violates our misinformation policy."

More:Big GOP primary field for governor has party leaders worried

More:Abortion to elections: Republican candidates for governor on the issues

More:'Things come at you fast,' new elections director says as primary looms

Institute president Michael Geer said that notice advised: "Content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches change the outcome of the US 2020 presidential election is not allowed on YouTube."

Geer, who calls that a blatant assault on free speech, filed an appeal Monday with YouTube.

A spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, did not comment Monday.

It was not immediately clear which part of event crossed YouTube's line. It might have been talk of mail ballots spurring voter fraud, a common and debunked claim about the 2020 election.

Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton claimed mail ballots are used "to steal elections." He also dug up that often-cited prevarication about dead people casting ballots.

"We know dead people have been voting in Pennsylvania all our lives," Barletta said, drawing chuckles from the crowd at Cairn University in Langhorne. "Now they don't even have to leave the cemetery to vote. They can mail in their ballots."

Seven of the nine Republicans in the primary attended, with most complaining about the 2019 state law that allowed for no-excuse mail ballots and prompted a 2020 wave of disproven claims about voter fraud.

Advent Lutheran Church during the primary election in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Attacking that law has become a mainstream Republican talking point, including from the two candidates who skipped the forum but voted in favor of mail ballots in 2019 — State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R.-Centre, and Sen. Doug Mastriano, R.-Franklin.

Dave White, a former member of the Delaware County Council who participated in the forum, on Monday denounced "leftists in Big Tech trying to silence conservatives."

Video and audio from the event are still available on the Institute's Facebook page, 1210-WPHT-AM's website and at the Pennsylvania Cable Network, which aired the event on its website.