Topic: Media Research Center
In July, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell issued a statement attacking Facebook for "allowing the ACLU and 90 left-wing organizations to dictate nearly every aspect of Facebook’s policies." The headline: "Facebook Shouldn’t Cave to Demands of Left-Wing Mob." Of course, Bozell would rather that Facebook cave to his right-wing mob, which has been flogging the narrative that Facebook is uniquely discriminating against conservatives, even as that narrative is continually undermined by the facts.
One of those caves to Bozell was that Facebook hired former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl to conduct an "audit" of whether the company is biased against conservatives, in which more than 130 conservatives were interviewed. An interim report issued Aug. 20 noted consrevative complaints about Facebook and conceded the company has work to do to gain their trust, but it did not document any conservative bias.
Naturally, that failure to bolster the right-wing narrative enraged the MRC. Corinne Weaver complained about the report's "non-endorsement of conservative complaints" and that "very few of conservatives’ actual concerns were voiced in the audit," adding that "the wording of some of the concerns was made to look as if conservatives believed things that were not true."
Bozell ranted that the report "refuses to publicly acknowledge that conservatives have been disproportionately affected by their content policies" -- though, again, he offers no evidence that's actually the case. Bozell further ranted about the failure to support his narrative: "We have waited over a year for Facebook to properly address the long list of issues raised by the conservative movement, but have received nothing of substance in return." So his mob will ramp things up: "We are set to meet with a group of distinguished attorneys to discuss issues relating to Big Tech's standing under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, along with other possible responses, including anti-trust proposals."
This was followed by a letter from Bozell's Free Speech Alliance huffing that Kyl "shockingly left us with a hollow report devoid of substantive policy proposals" and adding: "No conservative leader or organization should accept this as a legitimate response to the undeniable issues we have raised." The letter's signatories include fringe right-wing figures as WorldNetDaily's David Kupelian, Floyd Brown of the Western Journal (an orgagnization founded by WND's Joseph Farah) and anti-Muslim activist Brigitte Gabriel (whom Bozell inexplicably graces with the "Lady" title).
When Kyl responded to the criticism coming from the likes of the MRC, Weaver went on the attack again, grousing that "The report was full of the same kind of language that made conservatives lose trust in Facebook. It treated the blatant censorship of conservatives on Facebook as a myth, without addressing any of the issues. " Che was particularly incensed that Kyl stated that "censorship of conservatives is a 'belief,' as opposed to a fact. He said that people who complained about Facebook 'felt that they were discriminated against.'" Weaver highlighted that "76 percent of conservatives already don’t trust Facebook" without noting the time and money spent by the MRC and other right-wing organizations to further that impression -- indeed, that particular finding came from a poll bought and paid for by the MRC.
Bozell repeated that poll finding in an Aug. 28 column for Fox News, dishonestly attributing it only to "one national survey." He went on to rant that the Kyl report "cleansed of the evidence and downplayed their criticisms. It didn’t even acknowledge conservative complaints as legitimate." But the narrative is more important to Bozell than the facts:
The report focused on the word “believe.” Kyl used it nine separate times. We are told, “many conservatives lost trust in Facebook, believing it discriminated against them.” It wasn’t many, it’s most; they don’t just believe, they know.
Where the far-left audit proposed two pages of “recommendations,” the Kyl report contained no such section. The conservative report delivered a wobbly-kneed discussion of “perceived bias,” while the left demanded, and received, change.
Facebook is now backpedaling and insisting Kyl’s report was only a first draft. Fair enough. Then Facebook must do what one does with a sloppy, incomplete first draft: Throw it away and start anew.
Bozell also cited anecdotal examples of what he framed as anti-conservative bias. But liberals can do that too; the liberal website Wonkette has pointed out how Facebook is refusing to let its subscribers see its posts by claiming it violated a policy against "clickbait." Funny how Bozell and Co. are not terribly up in arms about that -- particularly since it undermines their victimization narrative.
Meanwhile, the MRC is attacking Facebook on other fronts. Alexander Hall bashed Facebook's plans to reintroduce a curated news feed because an algorithm-driven feed run by journalists (and you know how much the MRC hates journalists) might exclude conservative-friendly items. Hall even tried to co-opt a liberal argument that an algorithm can be programmed for bias, albeit with a not-terribly-helpful example: "If a programmer trains an algorithm to filter out an opinion as extreme or hateful for example, a critical story could be made to never see the light of day."
Weaver returned to criticize Facebook for failing to make some data sets available to researchers -- laughably ironic because the MRC consistently refuses to make public the full data that backs up its so-called studies claiming "liberal media bias."
The narrative must be preserved, after all. Facts are secondary.