Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center had high hopes for the "social media summit" at the White House -- after all, the MRC took part in it. Alexander Hall gushingly previewed the summit in a July 10 post, while also hitting the MRC's narrative that social media discriminates against conservatives:
The Thursday Social Media Summit at the White House will rally supporters of free speech.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who plans to attend the summit, has commented that he is “concerned there are people who work at the major technology platforms who want to put their thumb on the scale.”
“All we want is a fair fight,” said Gaetz. “I guess in a sense if highlighting experiences and instances of bias will result in fewer moderations that present as bias, all the better.”
Hall ignored the fact that social media outlets routinely suck up to conservatives to counter the narrative, which, strangely, doesn't stop the narrative.
Hall weirdly added at the end of his article: "According to The Wall Street Journal, attendees will include high profile free speech advocates like the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell, Prager U, the Claremont Institute, and more." Hall had to cite a news article to confirm that his own boss was attending? Didn't he know that already?
Meanwhile, the summit itself had little impact. The MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, didn't even bother to cover it, despite its employees taking part in it. doing only a preview article featuring President Trump touting how "Fake News is not as important, or as powerful, as Social Media." How important could the summit have been if its own "news" division didn't consider it to be news? Even the MRC's video site, MRCTV, offered nothing but clips of a couple of speeches at the summit (only one of which disclosed that the MRC took part in it).
Having offered up no coverage of its own, the MRC was left to attack the coverage others did. Alex Christy served up defensiveness about the extreme views of some of the invitees, combined with whataboutism:
On Thursday's MSNBC Live host Ali Velshi was joined by NBC reporter Ben Collins and Syracuse Professor Jennifer Grygiel to talk about the social media summit President Trump had at the White House. Just like conversations on the news media, the liberals insist there is no bias against conservatives in social media. Collins denounced the summit as a a gathering of "disinformation peddlers writ large" and " This isn’t about censorship. This is about building a coalition of dirty tricksters on the internet to get ready for 2020."
The Media Research Center was among the groups invited to the summit, since our TechWatch project exposes bias and censorship in social media. Smearing everyone in the room as a disinformer is....disinformation.
Collins began by stating that nobody at the summit has actually been banned from social media -- which is only true if it means a permanent ban. It doesn't count censorship like Prager U has experienced where they're put in a "restricted" backwater, or count temporary account takedowns (which has happened to people at MRC). He condemned the White House for inviting people such as Jim Hoft to the summit because Hoft is a spreader of false information. Collins declared that "This is the kind of thing that they are trying to protect at the White House going to 2020. This allows them to create innuendo against specific candidates they don’t like, against parties they don't like."
Trump should not have invited conspiracy peddlers to the White House, but it would be nice if NBC held itself to similar standards on disinformation. MSNBC has employed racial hoaxster Al Sharpton for eight years now.
Christy then surprisingly admitted that there's no actual evidence conservatives are being systematically discriminated against, then spun this lack of evidence as not being "the point":
Velshi later asked Collins if conservatives have any proof of social media bias. Collins declared that, "No. They don't have data and they will say this." Here Collins misses the point. It is not detailed spreadsheets that are proof of social media bias, but the rules that govern their terms of service that again bring up the age-old problem of what constitutes"hate speech." In a day where everyone that disagrees with the left is deemed this-ist or that-phobic, the rules of the game are inherently slanted against people who diverge from left-wing orthodoxy.
In other words, the narrative is set, it must be adhered to, and the MRC isn't going to let a little thing like lack of evidence get in the way.
Aiden Jackson, meanwhile, was slavishly devoted to the narrative. A Jimmy Kimmel joke about the extremism of the attendees was deemed a "vicious attack" and "nasty rhetoric" against "the silencing of ideas that dissent from social media companies’ liberal worldviews." When Kimmel pointed out that no representatives from social media companies were invited, Jackson huffed: "The truth of the matter is the liberal media are only too happy to censor conservative speech while freely promoting a left-wing agenda and coarsening the public discourse."
Jackson did not, however, mention his colleague's admission that there's no actual evidence to back up the narrative, nor did he disclose that the MRC took part in it.
Hall, meanwhile, returned to claim that the accurate claim that summit participants included conspiracy-obsessed extremists like Hoft was itself a "narrative," effectively denying that anyone there was extreme. Hall praised the work of anonymous troll CarpeDonktum, gushing that "CarpeDonktum has been retweeted by the president multiple times for his cartoonish meme videos which often lionize Trump and or make the media look foolish," and that criticism of him was merely the media's "spiteful way of showing they are still salty over being hilariously parodied." Hall did disclose that "The Media Research Center also attended the summit, as the organization's purpose has been to expose biases among liberally dominated platforms and media."
Ryan Foley whined:
MSNBC host Chris Hayes devoted a two minute-long monologue to trashing President Trump’s social media summit on Thursday’s edition of All In. According to Hayes, “instead of social media companies like Twitter and Facebook, they invited a pack of Trump-supporting, race-baiting conspiracy theorists.” Hayes also described the event as an “ice cream social for trolls.”
For the record, attendees at the event included Lila Rose of the pro-life group Live Action, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Congressman Matt Gaetz; all well-established voices in the conservative movement.
For the full record -- which Foley does not want to acknowledge -- the attendees also included Hoft, notorious hoaxer James O'Keefe (who even the MRC has denounced), extremist Bill Mitchell. Far-right cartoonist Ben Garrison had also been invited to the summit, but was disinvited after someone realized that someone who trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes wouldn't help things -- something unmentioned in any of the MRC's defense of the summit's participants.
Foley also repeated Rose's suggestion that Pinterest shut down Live Action's account because it shared "pro-llife content"; in fact, it was because Live Action used the account to push health misinformation.
It also included the MRC's Christian Robey and Ed Molchany -- which, curiously, no MRC post on the summit identified as attending. In other words, Hall cited fake news in his preview post, which he could have easily corrected by asking around the office.
The MRC's resident New York Times basher, Clay Waters, complained about the Times' story on the summit because it accurately described many of the attendees as "right-wing trolls," which Waters euphemistically insisted were just "conservative social media activists." Waters also whined that the reporter failed to adhere to the right-wing narrative because he "didn’t question whether conservative accounts are being banned, suppressed, or otherwise treated unfairly by the liberal-dominated social media platforms."
P.J. Gladnick went full whataboutism in a post that responded to Vox pointing out that the summit disproved itself by getting a lot of social coverage by ... devoting half his post to attacking Vox writer Carlos Maza for prompting YouTube's "demonetizing not only Steven Crowder's YouTube channel but many other conservative-oriented channels as well." Gladnick didn't mention Crowder's homophobic attacks on Maza, which forced Maza to take action. (Remember, the MRC thinks Crowder's nasty attacks on Maza are totally cool because he's allegedly a comedian.)
Even chief MRC partisan snarker Tim Graham weighed in with an Aug. 4 post cheering that Playboy reporter Brian Karem had his White House press pass suspended for "his behavior at Trump's social media summit on July 11, where he verbally attacked Trump's conservative guests:"This is a group of people that are eager for demonic possession." He snarkily added: "Two executives of the Media Research Center attended, and neither needed an exorcism." Weirdly, Graham didn't identify who those "executives" were so we could judge the state of their souls for ourselves.
Yet for all these complaints about the coverage of others, the MRC offered up none of its own to hold up as a "fair and balanced" view of it. Which, arguably, gave it little basis on which to complain.