If Deplatforming Hoaxsters Is OK, the News Media Should Be in Big Trouble

Without much explanation, Facebook last Thursday banned several high-profile users amid accusations they violated the company’s subjective rules about violence and hate speech. The ban applied to InfoWars founder Alex Jones; YouTube star Paul Joseph Watson; Laura Loomer, a 25-year-old journalist and conservative activist, and others accounts loosely aligned with the political Right. (Loomer and Jones already have been kicked off Twitter.)

The company offered little in the way of specifics about why these so-called “dangerous individuals” were banished from the world’s most active social media site. “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” the company said in a statement.

The corporation’s vague condemnation prompted widespread speculation from journalists about the real reason why these online menaces got the axe: Jones, Watson, Loomer, et. al. are conspiracy theorists, they warned. From 9/11 to Pizzagate, these alleged villains have peddled their own sinister version of reality and spread false information to their followers.

“President Donald Trump on Saturday retweeted messages from conspiracy theorists and far-right figures after Facebook banned several right-wing personalities for promoting violence and hate,” scoffed CNBC online reporter Tom DiChristopher in response to Trump’s weekend tweets criticizing Facebook’s move.

Other well-known defenders of free speech with fancy bylines at the country’s top news organizations cheered Facebook’s censorship:

MSNBC’s Katy Tur reported on May 2 that, “Facebook has banned a number of conspiracy theorists” then wondered aloud why it had taken the tech company so long to do it. An editorial in the Washington Post over the weekend applauded Facebook’s censure of Jones, a “conservative conspiracy theorist,” and commended the company for “viewing its latest outcasts in the broader context of their role both on its site and in society.”

Now, that kind of chutzpah requires a heavy dose of magical thinking laced with a stunning lack of self-awareness and doused with a toxic level of hypocrisy. And it would be amusing if it wasn’t so enraging.

Because these reporters hail from the very same news organizations that have intentionally misled the American public about three destructive hoaxes in the past year alone: The Trump-Russian election collusion ruse; the Brett Kavanaugh rape allegations; and the Covington Catholic High School “smirking” myth.

CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and NBC News used every ounce of their considerable influence and reach, including social media, to promote each fraud for one collective purpose: To destroy the presidency of Donald Trump and defame anyone associated with the president including pro-life teenagers.

Further, these journalists and their employers don’t come from the fringe of the internet with far-flung audiences and zero influence in the halls of power. Our ruling class takes their daily cues from contributors to the New York Times and CNN; their bleatings and outbursts, unlike those of Alex Jones, drive policy and public sentiment. These well-connected influencers, unlike Laura Loomer, have the ability to destroy careers, reputations, and lives. And they do just that. Regularly.

The Times and the Post have published thousands of articles speculating that Donald Trump and his campaign team coordinated with the Kremlin to manipulate the 2016 presidential election. Celebrated columnists have suggested that Trump is a Russian agent, a Putin puppet, even a traitor, for his supposed ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Maggie Haberman, a Trump-bashing reporter for the Times who seems to agree with Facebook’s decision to shut down conspiracy theorists, has written more than one hundred articles and made countless television news appearances attempting to legitimize the collusion conspiracy theory.

It would be impossible to calculate how many hours CNN and MSNBC have devoted to breathlessly agitating the Russian collusion narrative. This includes CNN’s Ana Navarro, who has trafficked in every bogus collusion storyline since 2017. As late as March 2019, Navarro claimed that Trump committed multiple crimes while working with the Russians to “hack democratic institutions in the United States and compromise the integrity of the election.”

MSNBC has offered nearly wall-to-wall coverage, from Joe Scarborough in the morning to Rachel Maddow at night, on the Russian collusion story.

But, as we now know, the whole story not only was a scam, it was a set-up by the Obama administration. There was no collusion. And unlike some weird chatter about a D.C. pizza place, this conspiracy theory has inflicted real damage to our body politic, our government, and on innocent people caught up in the scheme. Yet to date, not one journalists or newspaper or cable outlet has been censured by Big Tech for taking part in the collusion conspiracy theory.

Recall that the Washington Post was the first to report on the spurious allegations from Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, igniting an unprecedented political war in Washington while stoking rage and discord across the country. Story after story followed in the Post, which kept an ongoing list of sordid and baseless accusations against Kavanaugh. No claim was too far-fetched, no accuser was too sketchy.

NBC News aired a lengthy interview with Julie Swetnick, a known liar and obvious lunatic whose outlandish claims against Kavanaugh never could be substantiated. The New York Times even published a ludicrous piece about an alleged ice-throwing incident from more than 30 years ago. CNN gave ample air time to lowlife lawyer Michael Avenatti, who made more threats against Kavanaugh.

But Ford’s story, and the claims that followed were never substantiated. Her congressional testimony was unconvincing on the facts; others directly refuted her account. The media scrum then devolved into questions about whether Kavanaugh was a drunk. (A rich character test applied by the alcoholic headcases in the press.)

The media then concocted their own conspiracy theory: Donald Trump’s FBI was covering up for Kavanaugh, refusing to engage in thorough investigation as each claim materialized. “The investigation was always unlikely to prove whether Kavanaugh is guilty of sexual misconduct decades ago,” the Post reported on October 4, 2018. “But the inquiry’s limited scope—which was dictated by the White House—is likely to exacerbate the partisan tension surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

Kavanaugh and his family forever will have to live with the consequences of the grotesque assault unleashed against him by the news media. He, his family, and lawmakers supporting his nomination were subjected to harassment and death threats. Yet no apology has been issued, and no deplatforming of those who propagated the most outrageous charges against him has been announced. Crickets from Silicon Valley.

But just to show that there is no depth to which the hoaxsters in the media people are pleased to call “mainstream” (but is actually nothing more than corporate and leftist) won’t sink, consider the Covington Catholic hoax. It would be almost impossible to come up with a more despicable example of fake news than the hoax that tore through social media last January claiming a group of high school students disrespected a “native elder.” A screenshot of one Kentucky teenager wearing a Make America Great Again hat and attending the March for Life appeared to show him “smirking” in the face of the innocent man. The photo and a video clip that turned out to be doctored went viral, with major news outlets such as CNN and the Washington Post instantly reporting the phony storyline with such similarity of language that it was impossible not to notice. (The scam was later shown to be what appeared an orchestrated social media campaign bolstered by Democratic operatives.)

“Nothing justifies what the Covington students did,” opined Jonathan Capehart in the Post. (Capehart later compared the “smirking” teen, Nicholas Sandmann, to Kavanaugh.) The New York Times quickly proclaimed that the doctored video was representative of Trump’s America. “The encounter became the latest touchpoint for racial tensions in America, particularly under Mr. Trump,” the Times reported the morning after the first images were posted on Twitter. “Across the country, Mr. Trump’s name [has] been used to goad minorities.”

CNN’s S.E. Cupp, who now wishes good riddance to the banned Facebook villians, exploited the bogus Covington story, interviewing the “native elder” as a legitimate victim and hate-tweeting the teenagers. (Only after the full story was revealed did Cupp offer a mealy-mouthed apology on Twitter.)

Sandmann and his family now are suing CNN, NBC News and the Washington Post for defamation against “the agenda-driven mainstream and social media mob of bullies who attacked, vilified and threatened a child.”

So, while people like Jones and Watson are banished from social media platforms and branded by one of the most powerful corporations in the world as “dangerous individuals” who stoke hate and violence, there is no such censure against insidious, massive news organizations that arguably have inflicted far more serious and irrevocable damage upon innocent people and on our nation at large. All of their inflammatory content still can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

So, how is Rachel Maddow any less dangerous than Paul Watson or Laura Loomer? How are the daily rantings at the Post and the Times about the president of the United States, his family, and his supporters any less malicious than the maniacal postings at InfoWars? How is the hate spewed on CNN toward anyone associated with the political Right less provocative than anything said by Milo Yiannopoulos?

Someone needs to ask these tech titans to explain the difference. Only then will we find out whether their censorship truly has nothing to do with “ideology” and objectively is applied to all users, regardless of politics or power. But at this point, it’s hard to square their protestations with the facts.

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Photo Credit: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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