Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has been waging a prolonged war on Facebook for allegedly discriminating against conservatives and their viewpoint (despite the fact that the evidence to support that is cherry-picked and circumstantial at best). But as it did when it was revealed that Facebook was sucking up to conservatives in order to stop the baseless attacks, the MRC went into defense mode when more sucking up was disclosed.
An Oct. 14 Politico article reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been hosting "informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker" -- one of which was MRC chief Brent Bozell. That sent the MRC into defense mode.
An Oct. 15 MRC post by Corinne Weaver put a "liberals pounce" frame on it: "The intolerant left has a long list of things they consider unforgivable sins. One of them includes simply talking and dining with those on the right." Kyle Drennen touted how it was "surprising" that CBS This Morning "co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King was quick to defend the practice, asking, 'What’s wrong with that?'"
Alex Christy, meanwhile, complained that MSNBC called out the meetings:
A Silicon Valley liberal meeting with conservatives to discuss a relevant controversy, how horrible. They can't stand that.
Any good liberal guardian of the "truth," or the news, should not be kowtowing to conservative demands of neutrality. At least that is how MSNBC sees it.
The way these writers addressed the conflict of interest in their boss being a part of this story varied widely. Weaver disclosed that Bozell met with Zuckerberg; Drennen didn't disclose the current meetings but noted that "In May of 2016, NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center president Brent Bozell, along with several other conservative leaders, met with Zuckerberg to discuss concerns of anti-conservative bias on the social network"; and Christy didn't mention his boss at all.
Bozell, meanwhile, tweeted out his own justification for the meetings:
Leftists at Facebook are actively working with leftist groups to advance their leftist agenda.
Zuckerberg hosts a couple of meetings just to HEAR from a handful of conservatives - and the far left is condemning him for it.
What's the difference?
The issue that all these MRC writers conveniently ignore is that, as Media Matters' Parker Malloy pointed out, all these meetings with conservatives won't stop them from attacking Facebook -- the narrative is too strong and lucrative, and it will continue no matter how many times Facebook caves to their demands, even as research continues to prove that there's no systematic anti-conservative bias at Facebook.
Now, the MRC did praise Facebook for deciding not to censor political speech or fact-check political ads on the platform. Drennen claimed that "The disturbing irony of the news media that make their living from the First Amendment actually being upset by a social media company refusing to censor political speech is stunning," while Weaver framed the decision as Facebook deciding not to "define and correct what the platform calls hate speech."
But a couple days after that, it was back to attack mode, as Alexander Hall complained: "In the latest incidence of Big Tech being in bed with liberals, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have been caught recommending campaign hires to a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Hall waited until several paragraphs later to concede that "Zuckerberg had recently held private meetings with conservative leaders to address their concerns," though he didn't disclose that one of those "conservative leaders" was his boss.
Hall followed up with another post complaining about Facebook's new "news" tab curated by an editorial team, ranting: "Much like asking 'who fact-checks the fact-checkers,' the question of 'who curates the curators' will likely be on conservatives’ minds. After all, based on Facebook’s troubled history with truth, conservatives would be right to be concerned about their commitment to free expression."
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg's Oct. 18 sit-down interview with Fox News was completely ignored by the MRC.
Then the tone flip-flopped again in an Oct. 30 piece by Weaver headlined "Media War on Muckerberg" and unironically whining: "The media are opposed to anything that remotely resembles a neutral approach. So when Facebook decided to leave political ads from politicians untouched, the liberal news media declared war." Not a word, of course, about the MRC's war on Zuckerberg and the fact that too doesn't want a "neutral approach" -- it obviously wants Facebook to share its right-wing bias.
In sum: The MRC will always find a reason to attack Facebook, no matter how many times it's been demonstrated there's no anti-conservative bias or how many times Zuckerberg buys Bozell dinner.