Mike Bloomberg had a tough night at last week’s Democratic debate. The entire stage attacked him as a racist and sexist, and the former New York City mayor embarrassed himself trying to explain his past violations of progressive orthodoxy. He did, however, have one highlight at the debate.
The billionaire asked his fellow candidates if he was the only one among them who started his own business. The awkward silence after his statement showed he was the only businessman on stage.
Bloomberg’s campaign thought the moment was so good that they turned it into an obvious parody video. In the real exchange, Bloomberg is greeted by a second or two of awkward silence. In the parody video, he’s greeted by 20 seconds of awkward silence, complete with chirping crickets and ruffling papers. It’s a very corny video.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 20, 2020
But to the guardians of our democracy—namely journalists—Bloomberg’s silly video presented one of the greatest dangers to the republic.
NBC’s Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) on Bloomberg’s “doctored video”: Twitter’s new policy flagging “disinformation” will include videos like this.
“If nobody will stop [disinfo], it can change narratives or change the outcome of the election.” pic.twitter.com/4aINQNjWxH
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 21, 2020
This is pretty wild: After Mike Bloomberg bombed at the debate last night, his campaign cut a deceptive video to make it look like he did well.
The video already has nearly 200K views on Twitter and 31K on Instagram. https://t.co/Pfw7OWpqGa
— Holly Otterbein (@hollyotterbein) February 20, 2020
ICYMI –> Bloomberg’s manipulated debate video earns Four Pinocchios https://t.co/1f5Ohr5xQw
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) February 21, 2020
The Washington Post assigned two reporters to figure out how “fake” the video was and gave it four Pinocchios. Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler stated in a very, very serious tone:
We’re taking a tough line on manipulated campaign videos before viewers are flooded with so many fakes that they have trouble knowing what is true. The Bloomberg campaign should label this as a parody or else take the video down.
Reporters assume that voters have never seen a well-edited parody video before. The general public will actually believe crickets chirped in a packed auditorium over a lame gotcha moment.
Most Americans are not as dumb as journalists think they are. Besides, it is highly unlikely Bloomberg swayed any Democrats with a Republican talking point. Most voters in the Democratic primary don’t care if a candidate started a business—they just want whoever will give them the most free stuff.
The overreaction to this lame parody video once again underscores how journalists are the primary advocates for tech censorship. Journalists routinely demand that tech giants censor content they don’t like, and the tech giants often listen. Remember how one Vox reporter pressured YouTube last summer to radically overhaul its policies and demonetize hundreds of channels? That’s the power journalists hold over Big Tech.
A favorite target for journalists is edited parody videos. They melt down anytime Trump tweets clearly fake videos, denouncing these them as threats to our democratic order. These serious threats include Trump body-slamming the CNN logo and the president’s face superimposed on the body of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa.
Journalists always demand the same solution: Big Tech must censor these “doctored” images and videos.
And Big Tech is listening. Twitter is set to debut an incredibly annoying feature that will put “lies and misinformation” under colored labels. The flagged tweets will come with a “fact check” from a reliably liberal source and can be guaranteed to be highly subjective. Facebook has rolled out a similar feature for the last few years. One of the main victims of this is the Christian satire site, Babylon Bee.
Many of the Bee’s obviously satirical articles come with fact checks on Facebook and the platform once threatened to ban the website entirely. The Onion, which publishes many similar articles, has never faced this problem. The difference is that the Babylon Bee is right-leaning and irritates liberal journalists.
The point of tech censorship is not to protect the American public from “misinformation”—it’s to suppress opinions journalists don’t like.
The Bloomberg video is a unique case in that it’s a doctored video from a liberal. But journalists—at least the ones not bought by Bloomberg—don’t like the former New York mayor. If Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg promoted such a video, it’s likely you wouldn’t have seen an uproar.
Tech censorship inevitably gives more power to liberal journalists. Tech giants hire them to fact check their stories and to decide what counts as a credible outlet. They get to manage the flow of information and dictate what’s news.
Fact is, the internet era has undercut the power of traditional media and allowed alternative media to thrive. The old dinosaurs aren’t the only source of news anymore. But journalists desperately want this old power back—and Big Tech may capitulate.
It’s healthier for democracy to let citizens decide what news they want. The mainstream media complains about parody videos, but ignores their own mistakes—like claiming footage from a Kentucky gun show was a battle in Syria.
Twitter, Facebook, and Google have a choice: They can uphold democratic values, or they can appease censorious journalists. It should be an easy choice, but liberal ideology prevents tech execs from doing the right thing.