Former White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short appeared on Cuomo Prime Time on Tuesday. He brought the case for scrutiny into social media and other web companies based on recent evidence that they are collectively censoring conservatives.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo claimed he cared about conservative voices allegedly being silenced, but not really. To him, it was all just another distraction from whatever he thought the ‘real issue’ was, a distraction Trump was using to his advantage. Cuomo’s next brilliant leap in logic was that if Trump is tweeting about it, it doesn’t really matter. And, according to him, Fox News was behind it all:
“I'm okay with the concept. What I'm saying is the convenience of this. You know, is Trump banging on them because they haven't come clean about what they should be doing to protect our democracy, or if you and I have an email conversation about where we want to go bird hunting this fall, all of sudden, I'm getting all these Cabela's ads, you know, popping on my screen. He should be talking to them about that. But he doesn't. But when it's about him and what somebody tells him about himself, we all know who had this on TV last night. It's no coincidence that he did it this morning.”
Short asked Cuomo if he would have any issue with tech companies making their “algorithms” transparent. To his slight credit, Cuomo replied that he would not. However, he doubled down on his theory, “I just don't think you do it because Trump says it's rigged against him.” Cuomo also had some thoughts on Google’s promotion of conservative outlets:
”Well, but, Marc, again the concept I'm with you on, certainly about our democracy, what they do, their transparency, fine. But with specific to Trump, I did some Googling of him on Google about news. I saw Fox News in there. I saw other outlets. They're trying to call this P.J. Media, which is just a conservative site. It's not a research clearinghouse. It's not the Cato Institute. It's nothing like that.”
Short's reply said it best, something many can agree on, “Chris, we're all delighted that you're now reading P.J. Media and Fox News.”
Read the full transcript of the August 28 interview below:
9:01 PM EST
CUOMO: The president woke up this morning, started a witch hunt of his own. And while you can guess it involved the media, it primarily focused on Google. The president fired off a series of tweets blasting Google in terms of search results about him being rigged. No evidence, but conservative content is suppressed. That's his theory. That's not all. Trump has now apparently tasked the administration with investigating. Let's get a take of where this is coming from and where it will go. Marc Short, President Trump's former White House legislative affairs director, good to have you again, sir.
MARC SHORT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me on.
CUOMO: Let's do a little housekeeping to get it out of the way. When you were leaving the White House, you signed some type of document that is being called an anti-disparagement document, and now that you're giving commentary, people are going to say, well, are you allowed to be negative about the president? What do you have to say?
SHORT: There is no anti-disparagement document that I signed. Prior to joining the administration, there was what I think is a pro forma nondisclosure that prevents you from disclosing secret secure information, national secrets or classified information, private conversations with the president. And something that said that if you were to do a tell-all book, that those proceeds would go to the federal government and not to your own benefit. But before I signed a contract with CNN, my personal lawyer spoke to White House ethics lawyers and confirmed that there are no restrictions for me coming on air and giving my unvarnished opinion about the administration. And so, you know, Chris, we've had this conversation. I look forward to continuing to be a part of your network.
CUOMO: Critical or complimentary, you can say what you want?
CUOMO: All right. So you're not bound by any contract. Let's see if you still choose to defend this fugazi Google notion that the president came up with today. And look, I'm going to argue later on, I'm not saying Google is clean. I'm not saying any of the big providers are, search engines or otherwise. But what proof does he have of something that seems very conveniently timed as a distraction?
SHORT: Well, actually, this has been an issue that has been rising in conservative circles for a while. I think there's a concern about bias in the mainstream media, so therefore, a lot people -- more and more are getting their news from social platforms. Obviously, Google is a large provider of that. If you actually go back and look at Marsha Blackburn's campaign this year, she tweeted out a pro-life statement that Google decided to take down. That is not something that has happened to pro-abortion candidates. It has happened to pro-life candidates. I think there has been evidence and conservatives are being more and more concerned. So --
CUOMO: Why did they say they took it down, Marc? Because there's more to that story with that with Blackburn. Why did they take down a pro-life statement?
SHORT: I think that as I recall, their concerns were about there were certain parts of the pro-abortion industry that was marketing fetus hard body parts and Masha had made that case and I think very factually correct she had made that case.
CUOMO: Right. I think it was Twitter, not Google.
SHORT: You're correct, 100 percent.
CUOMO: This is complicated, all right? I did all this reading today about shadow banning and algorithms and searches and what they say. There's no question we could know more, but I say the president is playing that to negative advantage. He's taking the unknown and trying to create a certainty. What they say is sometimes people who wind up being harder to find, it's because they're generating content or reactions to their content that often violate the protocols of decency and abusive behavior and language. So they're almost kind of being a victim of circumstance of what they're putting out. That's not really on the platform. That's on the community.
SHORT: Chris, that's an admitted tension point, but I'll give you another example. The California Republican Party, if you did a Google search this year earlier, it would come up as another search would be the Nazi party. And so, those are algorithms and you have to ask yourself why is it so biased that you're associating the Republican Party with the Nazi party? I do think that where the administration has to be careful is limited government people, we do not want more government regulation. It's important to make sure that that is not a step that the administration takes. But I do think to your point about algorithms that there should be a transparency, and that is something that all Americans should know what is in the algorithms so they can make their own choice about who their search engines are. And if there's a bias, they could go somewhere else.
CUOMO: I'm okay with the concept. What I'm saying is the convenience of this. You know, is Trump banging on them because they haven't come clean about what they should be doing to protect our democracy, or if you and I have an e-mail conversation about where we want to go bird hunting this fall, all of sudden, I'm getting all these Cabela's ads, you know, popping on my screen. He should be talking to them about that. But he doesn't. But when it's about him and what somebody tells him about himself, we all know who had this on TV last night. It's no coincidence that he did it this morning.
SHORT: So, Chris, I know you think there's a pernicious plot here. I want you to know when we come back after Labor Day, Congress has already called hearings into this. And there are several people including the Facebook CEO will testify. Google's CEO today said he will not. So, in fact, this is something Congress has already been looking into. So, you might believe this is a witch hunt. You might believe this is pernicious and conveniently timed. In fact, this is an issue that has been growing. It is one of the serious concern. And I think the president is raising more attention to it, I think appropriately so.
CUOMO: Well, but, Marc, again the concept I'm with you on, certainly about our democracy, what they do, their transparency, fine. But with specific to Trump, I did some Googling of him on Google about news. I saw Fox News in there. I saw other outlets. They're trying to call this P.J. Media, which is just a conservative site. It's not a research clearinghouse. It's not the Cato Institute. It's nothing like that. It was used because it had a headline that said 96 percent of media -- of news coverage of Trump is negative from liberal groups. "Reuters"? CBS? Of course, CNN. Those are fringe groups? Ninety-six percent is negative. That's the reality of coverage with what the president puts out.
SHORT: So then, Chris, you should have no concerns whatsoever to making the algorithms transparent for the American people to decide whether there's a bias or not.
CUOMO: None, none.
SHORT: And I think that's the appropriate recourse.
CUOMO: None, have the government do it. I think that's fine. I just don't think you do it because Trump says it's rigged against him.
SHORT: It's been an issue that has been rising in concern among many Republicans, and I think there's a concern that many conservatives turn to these platforms to get information because they believe the mainstream bias has been -- the mainstream media is biased.
CUOMO: Google Trump news and Fox News popped up in the top of the cache. So, I don't know where they're getting this from except one Fox show that put out one P.J. conservative article, P.J. Media, which was a guy -- you know, some people putting the search into Googles on different computers. That's not research.
SHORT: Chris, we're all delighted that you're now reading P.J. Media and Fox News.
CUOMO: I bet you are. I bet you are. Let me ask you something else. So, he goes to meet with evangelicals and says, I need your help in the midterm election. If we lose, there's going to be violence. Violence, he said twice. Do you agree with that?
SHORT: I don't know that there will be violence. I think --
CUOMO: You don't know or you think it's highly unlikely?
SHORT: I think one of the hallmarks of American democracy is the peaceful transfer of power and that's been going on for a long time. But I do think there is several things this president has done that has been in concert with evangelical voters and they're excited to see the pro-life agenda. They're excited to see what this president has been doing on judges and any believe he's defending them on religious freedom. And I don't think there's any doubt that Democrats look to unwind that agenda should they take control of Congress.
SHORT: No, I'm not saying --
CUOMO: Why would they have to be violent if they win by the way?
SHORT: I'm not saying there whether be violence.
CUOMO: He is.
SHORT: Well, I am -- OK. But I'm saying that there will be an effort --
CUOMO: Should he say that?
SHORT: -- to pull back on what has been the legislative and other --
CUOMO: That's fine. That's not what he said.
SHORT: Well, OK. I'm telling you what I think is a concern, which is not a violence concern, but I think is a concern about pulling back and unwinding the success of this administration.
CUOMO: I hear you about that. That's what happens when you go from one party to another.
CUOMO: But saying it's violence. Do you think that's the right thing for a president to do, to scare people like that about the outcome of an election?
SHORT: Chris, I don't think that hopefully there won't be violence and --
CUOMO: I'm not saying what the outcome is going to be. I agree with you. Should the president go to people and say, help me because if we lose, there's going to be violence?
SHORT: I don't know the full context of the conversation and what he said out there, Chris. I know it was a closed door setting. I know parts have been leaked out, but I'd rather have the full context before I comment on that.
CUOMO: All right, Marc Short. At least I know you're not contractually bound to defend stuff like that. You're just doing it because you want to, and you're welcome back here to make the case, and we're going to have you many times. Marc Short, thank you and be well.
CUOMO: All right. So, this Google complaint that it's rigged against the president as Trump says, is there anything to it, or is this just another don't believe what you are seeing and hearing stunt? The truth always comes out at the magic wall. I don't even know how it gets in there -- next.