The MRC’s Ongoing Facebook Deception
Facebook is dominated by conservative-leaning posts and it has given a pass to President Trump and his supporters who broke its rules, but the Media Research Center is still peddling the lie that the platform uniquely discriminates against conservatives.
By Terry Krepel
The evidence that Facebook isn't really biased against conservatives keeps piling up:
So the right-wing ref-working is working. Needless to say, the Media Research Center has not told its readers about any of this research -- after all, it has a victim narrative to maintain, facts be damned. And as these reports became public, the MRC continued falsely painting Facebook as the conservative-hating bad guy.
An Oct. 12 post by Alexander Hall and Alec Schemmel played the whataboutism card, complaining that "Facebook has repeatedly censored or banned groups on the right while allowing reportedly violent Antifa factions and left-wing militia organizations." This, of course, brought an "open letter" from their boss, Brent Bozell, to Congress huffing that "If Facebook bans pages and groups on their platform promoting conspiracy theories like QAnon, it ought to do the same with those perpetrating violence like Antifa."
On Oct. 23, Hall cheered the idea of the Federal Trade Commission "mulling over an all-out offensive against Facebook" filing an antitrust lawsuit, suggesting a conspiracy of some kind by asserting that "conservatives who wish to wrangle with Big Tech have reportedly faced opposition both from Democrats and fellow Republicans."
An Oct. 26 post by Joseph Vazquez tried to manufacture a conspiracy:
If the liberal media’s relative silence towards Facebook and Google’s Orwellian behavior this electoral cycle seemed deafening, perhaps it's because many outlets have received big loads of cash from them.
The same day, Hall complained that "Facebook is reserving the right to reduce the spread of controversial posts and rig users’ news feeds for what it considers to be the greater good," but he offered no evidence that these rules would specifically target conservatives.
On Oct. 28, Schemmel highlighted how "CEO’s from Twitter and Facebook struggled to provide one example of a liberal being censored on their respective platforms during a Senate hearing about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act" while uncritically repeating the talking point that "Republican lawmakers have argued that social media companies disproportionately target conservative viewpoints while giving a free pass to liberal ones."
Hall went back to the whataboutism card on Nov. 6, grousing that "Facebook has shut down an activist group with pro-Trump ties concerned about voter fraud while still allowing reportedly violent Antifa groups to remain." He downplayed the threats of violence on the group's page that prompted Facebook to shut it down by letting page organizers deny it. The same day, Sargent got mad that Facebook was "censoring what they deem to be election misinformation," but she made no case for the unrestricted distribution of false information.
Hall then lashed out at Facebook for flagging an MRC video as misinformation:
Facebook’s fact-checkers have tried to discredit MRCTV’s reporting about the most critical election of our lifetime.
Hall didn't mention that Marsh also falsely ranted that the election results "stinks worse than a Seattle fish market, and anyone with two eyes and a brain stem can see it."
Oh, and Lead Stories is not, in fact, "notoriously left-wing"; indeed, both he and Marsh appear to concede that Lead Stories' fact-check on the Michigan votes is correct. Hall also reprinted the part of Hughes' script in which she pushes the conspiracy by claiming the vote numbers "were quickly added to Biden’s vote tally and any question over their legitimacy was immediately censored on Twitter" before admitting "the whole thing was a 'typo.'" The fact that Hughes put "typo" in scare quotes in her script tells us she wasn't all that happy that the facts trumped her conspiracy theory -- and that Facebook was correct to flag her video.
From there, the MRC moved to simply lying to itself about the purported bias and denying that conservative misinformation about the presidential election was misinforming anyone. Hall ranted in a Nov. 10 post:
A liberal tech writer has blasted Facebook for allowing conservatives to ask honest questions about the controversial 2020 election. He also lamented that Facebook has allowed conservative posts to become wildly popular.
Yes, Hall actually claimed that deliberate conservative misinformation was merely asking "honest questions" about the election. He then crowed that "Roose was then scorched by The Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon for brazen hypocrisy," but all Dillon actually did was play whataboutism, whining that Roose "never mentions 'left-wing misinformation.'"
Hall went on to portray conservative misinformation as normal -- note his biased dichotomy between conservatives "swaying public opinion" and "far-left influencers indoctrinating" people -- but he's also forced to concede that not only does Facebook not actually censor conservative views to the extent the MRC insisted it has, conservative posts dominate the site:
Roose was disturbed not only by the fact that conservative news outlets are able to speak, but also at how popular they are. He mentioned what he called, “A Newsmax video full of debunked voter fraud conspiracy theories (dead people voting, poll watchers barred, software glitches)” and remarked on how it “is the 3rd most-shared post of the past three days. 15 million views, 345,000 shares.”
Having admitted that, Hall then labored to return to the misleading right-wing narrative by huffing that "Contrary to Roose’s recent accusation of Facebook enabling conservative election skeptics, Facebook has cracked down on conservative information in the past year." But he cited only one example, that of the New York Post's dubious Hunter Biden story -- and he won't even vouch for the veracity of the story, stating that it was based on "purported emails."
It appears that Hall wants conservatives to be able to mislead and lie with impunity.
Hall did the same thing in a Nov. 12 post claiming that "A Biden campaign staffer is furious that conservatives are still allowed to question the integrity of the 2020 election online" and was "slamming the platform for giving conservatives a voice." In fact, the staffer accurately pointed out that "Donald Trump voter fraud and election victory lies represented 17 of the top 20 posts on FB between 11/3-11/8. While Twitter disabled sharing of Trump’s election disinformation, Facebook continued to actively promote the posts in feeds." Hall again claimed that "Contrary to liberal critiques, Facebook has cracked down on conservative information in the past year, specifically that which could hurt former Vice President Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency," but again he cited only the New York Post story.
Facebook oversight board
Earlier this year, the MRC latched on to Facebook's proposed oversight board, attacking it for not being stacked with conservatives.
The MRC kicked off its attack with a May 7 statement from the "Free Speech Alliance," the right-wing group it created to push the dubious narrative of rampant discrimination against conservatives in social media. It ranted that the board is "too international" -- despite the fact that Facebook operates in nearly all countries on the planet -- and would be "embracing an internationalist construct pleasing to the radical left and likely to make Facebook’s restrictive content policies even worse." The statement complained that one member “does not believe in eternal life, salvation or heaven and hell,” three "have ties to leftist billionaire George Soros," and most "are as left-wing as you might expect," finally huffing, "We find no one supportive of Trump."
Corinne Weaver whined in a post the same day:
The liberal media met Facebook’s announcement of its first 20 members of its new Oversight Board with praise and applause. But for some, the lefty choices made were not liberal enough.
If there's anything the MRC hates, it's "diversity." Weaver named no board member she thought was too "liberal." Indeed, a few days later, Weaver returned to attack one board member for being a Muslim, digging up a years-old interview in which she allegedly "supported the Muslim Brotherhood."
Weaver did, however, find someone who was apparently conservative enough there to mine for scoops: oversight board chairman Michael McConnell. She cheered when McConnell told her in an "exclusive interview" that Facebook would audit its fact-checkers -- and pouted when McConnell pointed out in another "exclusive interview" that the oversight board would only get a couple more explicitly conservative members. She lied about one board member, Pamela Karlan, claiming that she "mocked then-13-year-old Barron Trump during the House impeachment proceedings" (she didn't).
(A couple months earlier, Weaver had falsely attacked one of the fact-checkers working for Facebook, Lead Stories, for doing more fact-checks on conservative outlets while offering no evidence that liberal outlets put out the same amount of misinformation on social media than conservative outlets do, thus warranting parity.)
Weaver then cranked out a hit piece on the purported "radical views" of oversight board members, in which she repeated her attack on the Muslim board member and her lie that Karlan "mocked" Barron Trump.
Because no right-wing attack on Facebook would be complete without Brent Bozell weighing in, we have the MRC chief demanding in an "official press conference" (does Bozell ever appear at unofficial press conferences?) because it has only "five members from the United States" (again, Facebook operates in nearly every country on the planet). Bozell had right-wing members of Congress joining him, implying there would be Trump administration harassment if Facebook didn't cave to his demands.
So Weaver typed up a new rant on May 22: "Facebook’s new Oversight Board promises to be committed to freedom of expression. But that principle might better reflect an international standard, rather than a First Amendment-based American one." Weaver didn't mention that Facebook operates in nearly every country on the planet, so international standards should perhaps supercede parochial concerns.
The MRC's attacks on the oversight board haven't stopped. An Oct. 23 post by Kayla Sargent complained that 'the board is primarily comprised of leftists" -- the MRC's evidence of which is that one board member is a Muslim and another made a pun on Barron Trump's name during a congressional hearing -- and spreading the lie that "the suppression of conservative speech on the platform may not change at all, and could even get worse."
Sargent launched another attack on the oversight board on Nov. 4, stating that "The Facebook Oversight Board’s most radical member,Tawakkol Karman, who lives in Yemen, tweeted today praising the possibility of Trump’s defeat." That would be the Muslim member the MRC has previously lashed out at.
Dubiously owning the libs
Right-wing radio host Mark Levin was mad that Facebook put a block on the falsehoods he published on his page there. And his buddies at the MRC was eager to give Levin a platform to vent that anger. Hall did the stenography job in a Nov. 2 post:
Popular conservative talk radio host Mark Levin was targeted by Facebook on the evening before the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Notice Hall's framing there. In his telling, the Grenell post that Levin reposted wasn't objectively, indisputably false; it's just that fact-checkers "claimed" it was false. Despite that framing, Hall offers no evidence to contradict anything the fact-checkers found. Hall let the whining continue:
Levin tweeted about another fact-check he had received earlier on November 2 as well:
The Hot Air article “Biden Stumbles Through Another Campaign Speech: ‘America Is Dead Because Of COVID-19’” included a link to a clip of Democratic nominee Joe Biden speaking about COVID-19 at a rally, proclaiming: “America is dead because of COVID-19.” But that Hot Air article now begins with an editor's note correcting the record: "The original version of this article stated that Joe Biden had said 'America’s Dead' during a campaign speech. In reality, Biden said 'Americans dead' in reference to the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. The incorrect references have been removed." And, yes, fact-checkers concur.
In other words, Levin was lying about what Biden said.
Despite the fact that Levin is 0-for-2 here and Facebook was entirely justified to limit the exposure given to his false claims, Hall still had to push the MRC's dubious victimization narrative. So he huffed that "Big Tech has been doing everything it can to protect Biden as the 2020 election approaches" -- while not explaining how shutting down Levin's falsehoods equated to "protecting Biden" -- and spent the rest of his post rehashing how social media limited the spread of the still-unproven New York Post story about Hunter Biden's "alleged scandalous dealings" with Ukraine.
Then again, the narrative is more important than the truth as far as the MRC is concerned -- perhaps even more so when it comes to its buddy Levin.