American Thinker shuts down comments: shut down the comments or shut down the site – Update


Update: AT brought the comments back. That certainly didn’t last long. They arranged for commenting through Dissenter (Gab) browser and they are commenting. This is the latest statement: UPDATE: I have been advised that, if you wish to continue commenting, you can do so through the Dissenter Browser. Learn about it here. That comment function is entirely separate from American Thinker or, indeed, from any site about which you comment.

On January 14, American Thinker founder Thomas Lifson published a blog post about shutting down the comment section. An update to the post said it was either that or shut down the website. AT appears to be very worried about the comments they are getting. The blog post didn’t explain anything. It did say people who read AT are upset about the elimination of the comments, but it didn’t dissuade them.

It’s a sorry world that they can’t even have a comment section. We don’t really have free speech in this country any longer. It’s especially unfortunate for a blog that produces thoughtful, intelligent opinion pieces worthy of discussion.

The post:

It is news to almost nobody who reads American Thinker that a political witch hunt is underway. Parties in and out of government are looking for excuses to suppress and destroy voices that oppose the left.

Because AT lacks the ability to monitor comments in real time, and because our position that comments are a forum, not something we publish, is being called into question, we can no longer publish comments.

We take this action with a heavy heart.

follow-up post by Deputy Editor Andrea Widburg said it’s either the comments or the entire blog:

Yesterday, we announced that we are closing comments at American Thinker. We immediately received a couple of hundred very unhappy, angry, and sometimes insulting emails about that decision. Without divulging why we made that decision, here are a few points to ponder.

First, 90% of the assumptions in the emails were wrong. This meant that a lot of people were theorizing in advance of their data. America is currently deeply destabilized, and things are happening that most people can’t imagine. Sometimes, those things hit close to home.

Second, it’s lovely that many of you came here for the conversation in the comments. To have the comments abruptly turned off was the equivalent of our breaking up your party, the great party at which all the guests were interesting and delightful. We appreciate what an unpleasant shock and disappointment that was, and we hate to be the mean parent who broke up the party, but, again, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Third, this site is a labor of love for everyone involved, especially for its founder, Thomas Lifson. If you imagine that he would ever authorize such a difficult decision when there were other choices to be made, well, you don’t know Thomas. All of us who work here agree that the choice was binary: shut down the comments or shut down the site. Or to use an analogy, amputate the limb or watch the patient die. Looked at from that perspective, there really was no choice.

Fortunately, Sentinel doesn’t worry about comments – yet. We never get that many for some reason, even on viral articles.

Our new reality is that if the comments on a blog are too harsh or somewhat offensive, the blog becomes a target. That’s the reality in our Woke world.



  1. This means people should self moderate, be careful not to be insulting or inflammatory.
    Be grateful for the opportunity to express one’s thoughts.

    • I agree people should be courteous. Insulting or inflammatory? Relative terms. If I wrote that I don’t understand how modern, educated people could believe that the story of Noah’s Ark is literally true, many fundamentalist Christians would be “insulted.” If I write that there is plenty of evidence that the election was stolen from President Trump, many on the left would find that “inflammatory.” Comment boards enforce rules against specifically inciting violence against specific people or groups, but that’s about all you can do and still allow free expression.

    • Yes, I appreciate the Independent Sentinel for having a comments section that is easy to use and doesn’t require a paid account or ask for every detail about you. But honestly, the way socialists ruin everything they can see and find, I don’t expect ANY sites on the internet to survive without following their edicts. Everyone will get unplugged. No advertising. No payment processing. No server. That’s the American communist way. In a couple of years, we’ll look to Iran, North Korea and China for more favorable terms and more liberty on web (and eventually App Store) hosting. You think I’m joking.

      • We are not that far from it with you know who ‘selected’ in office. We lost our mighty nation but our founding fathers did warn us we can have a republic if ‘we can keep it’.

        If we cease to be a Christian valued nation at an individual level we will cease to be a republic. Even Non Christians till recent decades generally followed Judeo values of right and wrong.

        They may not understand why they do but they did understood stealing/murder was very very wrong for the most part so if you DID do those things you’d be shamed and no longer accepted.

        But today it’s a free for all ‘I want it MY way!’ mindset: Like Ringo Stars new hit song ‘Let’s Change The World’ everyone is doing just that to their own image.

        Do you like it?

    • It is simply impossible not to insult or be inflammatory to the people who walk around perpetually insulted. Those types mission in life is to twist and misconstrue other’s words and point fingers. The reality of the situation is that they are the ones who are being inflammatory. Their complaints are just the first step in silencing everyone who isn’t in lockstep with their agendas.

    • Are the media “giants” censoring the innumerable hate filled comments by democrats and leftists toward Republicans? No, I didn’t think so. There is nothing high minded about these censors. The goal is to destroy the Republican party and make this a one party nation. There is a word for that form of governance.

    • AT commenters for the most part were quite moderate and the trolls didn’t dominate there like they do on some sites. It could have been the Dominion stuff that got them as there were several articles dealing with that issue.. No one from the site told us anything and that is disquieting in light of the Parler shutdown and the non-answers John Matze got from all of the sites that he believed were alternatives. There’s more than a whiff of “offer you can’t refuse” in the air.

    • AT was basically threatened to apologize to Dominion and delete it`s comments or be sued into oblivion. They might as well shut down the site because there really is no reason to go there….the commenters were more poignant than the articles.

      I haven`t visited the Federalist since they shut down their comments….same goes for AT.

      • I agree 100% Jack. Rather than fight Dominion, they caved by apologizing and banning comments. They are dead…just like the Federalist. I exchanged emails with Andrea Widburg yesterday and today…she refused to tell me what had happened. I had to find out for myself on RT.
        If techno companies and their army of lawyers can shut down free speech, we are all doomed.

      • That always seems to be the way it is: the comments are far more informative than the article. Yahoo News was famous for that until they stopped comments.

        • Sadly “they” the far leftist Marxist Power Elite CAN and have shut down our vote. When 80 million voters have been nullified and a brain-dead candidate who hardly ever left his burrow and only attracted a few placid followers can win an election our votes (voice) has been effectively shut down !

  2. The guy at American Thinker shutdown the comments and after an immediate backlash from his readers, turned the comments back on the next day. Go look at his comments section; it’s active. He got called out for embellishing (outright lied about) his claims of being asked to shutdown comments or shutdown the website. It didn’t happen and he got exposed.

  3. I see that people are afraid of the communist. They will keep winning if you are afraid of them. There is no sense if people cannot say what they want. Ok, it is your site, I know that, but tell us what is not allowed, or else do not have a comments section. I am sick of this censoring myself. I would shut down all of the communist news media and web sites if I could, but they have a right to say what they want. I do not have to listen to them or read there commie b.s.

  4. This is like 1930’s Germany. More and more websites (like publications then) are getting shut down or censored, and free speech is dwindling day by day for those who oppose the ruling party line. When the Dems are fully in charge, it will only get worse.

    • Does it? Does it feel like 1930’s Germany when 4 companies owned or managed by jews operating under a speech code given to them by a jew supremacist jewish racial advocacy group called the Anti Defamation League of B’nai Brith controlled everything that people were allowed to say in public and would call up other jewish people managing banking corporations to get them to shut down your bank account and deny you access to credit processing for non-violent speech and also call other jewish people working in media to slander you as a racist terrorist to anyone who might employ or associate with you in the future?

      Was it a little bit like that in the 1930’s in Germany too?

      If so,maybe that guy with the funny mustache might have been on to something when he decided that Germans couldn’t trust these people. Just something not very patriotic or fair about them.

        • If we don’t allow the Anti-Semites to spew their hatred, we will forget that they exist to our own peril. Don’t silence them, debate them so everyone sees that they are just plain wrong. The religion of the Tech Giants is irrelevant, the fact that they are monopolies engaging in actions contrary to antitrust law is the real issue. The fact that the Federal Government is allowing this should concern every American! The fact that the Federal Government refused to properly investigate allegations of election fraud makes the Federal Government’s moral authority questionable. In a Free Nation when the Government loses moral authority, it can’t govern. That should frighten everyone!

  5. Judging by their own rhetoric, the left is clearly unconcerned about “harsh” or “offensive” language — in fact, they embrace it. They’re trying to destroy Trump and his followers because Trump has demonstrated an uncanny ability to win despite the fact that the left holds almost all the cards. They fear the President who has placed more skin in the game on behalf of the American people than any president in many decades, perhaps more than any president since Washington, and that tells you all you need to know about the America-hating left.

    • I originally thought so, too. But then I saw Parler couldn’t find a new web hosting service after Amazon punched them. Once the twits at Twitter hate you, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and your payment processors join in the gang-frenzy and beat you down. Your advertisers run for the hills. You can’t pay your employees. You can’t even message them, since your Slack or groupware bailed on you, too. The lessons from Parler are definitely a shot heard ‘round the world. Communists control big tech, and they will collude to silence you and your way of life. If the tech giants decide to knock down your site with their vicious hatred, it will be hard to find a smaller company that will risk its own annihilation by offering to do business with you.

      • After seeing what happened to Parler, every business should be rethinking having a business in the Cloud. I am in the process of moving almost everything out of the Cloud and on to servers I own and control. If all small business does this in 2021, Big Tech would have very little control in a year.

  6. A moderated comment section could easily resolve the issue though filtered speech is NOT free speech. It’s time for a vigorous opposition to stand strong and not yield to the fascist left.

  7. Like most things, conservatives have their head deeply implanted, while liberals are tirelessly coordinating building a police state. Disqus? OpenWeb? Do conservative websites even look into these gatekeepers before they sign contracts?

  8. It is vital to the Nation that Free Political Speech is restored, no matter how distasteful. Even the extremist must be heard and debated or their causes will gain public support.

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