The Biden administration has faced criticism for working with Facebook to flag what they deem “misinformation” and the President’s declaration that “Facebook is killing people.” Unsurprisingly, the liberal media justifies the efforts while ignoring the First Amendment issues. On CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront Monday night, fill-in host Kate Bolduan tried to excuse the severity of Biden’s remarks while talking to her guests.
When she asked if Biden went too far, former White House Counselor to Bill Clinton Paul Begala defended the president’s reckless comments and stuck with the narrative that “Facebook is hazardous to your health.” He attempted to explain why Biden would make the remarks only to later retract them: “I hope he doesn't think he went too far. You know, a lot of his personality is to try to calm the waters. And that was a very incendiary statement and very un-Biden-like in that sense. So, I understand maybe in terms of temperament, he wants to walk that back.”
Former Mitch McConnell advisor Scott Jennings, on the other hand, argued that Biden shouldn't have gotten involved in the first place:
I'm talking about Louis Brandeis…who once said, “the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” And who does that describe in American life right now? Well-meaning without – but without understanding, and of somewhat of a zeal? That's Joe Biden who frequently goes out and says things of a hyperbolic nature, they turn out not to be true, that he has to walk back. He did it on Facebook. He says they're killing people. Now he says they're not. Was it misinformation when he said they were killing people?
He asked whether Begala would have the same opinion if Donald Trump or another Republican got involved in censorship. Bolduan and Begala avoided answering this question, but the obvious answer is that the left would immediately smear Republicans as “anti-democratic.” Begala’s response was a straight-up lie: “It's a great point, it's just not apropos of this issue, because nobody is saying that the government should censor.”
Later, Jennings brought up another issue: what exactly will be flagged as “dangerous misinformation?” He warned that “we have a recent history of calling things misinformation on this topic that turned out to not be misinformation. Such as the origins of where COVID came from in the first place.” The takeaway from Jennings’s remarks was that even if the government colluded with Facebook to remove misinformation, people would make their own decisions and some would choose to remain unvaccinated.
Clearly, the left has no problem with disregarding the constitutional right to free speech in order to ensure they have control over information. In reality, it’s dangerous to America for the White House to go down this path because it sets a precedent that it is acceptable for the government to set the Constitution aside to achieve an unclear goal.
This segment was brought to you by Arby’s and Farmers Insurance.
Below is a transcript of the segment, click “expand” to read:
CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront
7:31 p.m. Eastern
KATE BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Biden versus Facebook. The President back-tracking on his bold criticism that Facebook is killing people by allowing COVID misinformation to spread on its platform.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Facebook isn't killing people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. My hope is that Facebook instead of taking it personally, that somehow I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation.
BOLDUAN: So Biden was referring to a report stating 12 people account for 65 percent of the anti-vaccine misinformation on Facebook. And the walk-back coming after the tech giant blasted the White House with an unnamed Facebook official telling CNN, quote, “The White House is looking for scapegoats for missing the vaccine goals.” Out front now, Paul Begala, former White House counselor to President Clinton, and a Democratic strategist, and Scott Jennings, former senior adviser to Mitch McConnell, and former special assistant to President George W. Bush. Paul, what do you think of this? Is this Biden admitting he went too far on Friday? Was Biden just trying to move on?
PAUL BEGALA: I hope he doesn't think he went too far. You know, a lot of his personality is to try to calm the waters. And that was a very incendiary statement and very un-Biden-like in that sense. So, I understand maybe in terms of temperament, he wants to walk that back. But this is based on our Surgeon General's report that came out on Friday. And he concludes, in my words, Facebook is hazardous to your health in the same way that in 1962, the Surgeon General said air pollution is bad for us. In 1964 the Surgeon General said cigarette smoking is. Facebook is damaging your health. So it's because of this misinformation that the president talked about. There's this phenomenon that is really important to understand called algorithmic augmentation. Facebook’s not just a neutral platform. They're not just a bulletin board. They add fuel, they add jet fuel, they add steroids to the negative, to the divisive, to the dishonest, because they make more money off of that. That's I think what the Surgeon General's report speaks to. People should read it, it's a terrific report. But that's the problem is that Facebook is force-feeding this misinformation to people, and they've got to stop.
BOLDUAN: So, then, Scott, you don't think Biden should have gotten involved in this in the first place. After you hear what Paul’s saying, why?
SCOTT JENNINGS: Look, I'm in Louisville, Kentucky tonight. Kate and Paul, and good to see both. And I'm talking about Louis Brandeis, the great Supreme Court justice, also from Louisville, who once said, “the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” And who does that describe in American life right now? Well-meaning without – but without understanding, and of somewhat of a zeal? That's Joe Biden who frequently goes out and says things of a hyperbolic nature, they turn out not to be true, that he has to walk back. He did it on Facebook. He says they're killing people. Now he says they're not. Was it misinformation when he said they were killing people?
Look, I took the vaccine, I studied the data. I think they work. I think everyone should get it. And at the same time, I would just warn everybody out there, if you want the White House getting involved in censoring free speech, ask yourself this, would you have the same position if Donald Trump or some Republican were the president, I bet you would not. This is a dangerous, slippery slope, and Biden ought to stay out of it.
BOLDUAN: Paul, I mean, does Scott have a point here?
BEGALA: It's a great point, it's just not apropos of this issue, because nobody is saying that the government should censor. I'm certainly not. They should never censor Americans.
JENNINGS: Jen Psaki said it. Our friend Jen said it. Our friend Jen said it.
BEGALA: Justice Brandeis also said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and Facebook is not being transparent, they're not opening up their algorithm to us. But "The Wall Street Journal" reported they obtained back in May, an internal Facebook document, this is what Facebook says about their algorithm and how they make money off of hate. Facebook's own memo says, "Our algorithms exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness. Left unchecked, that algorithm will feed users more, and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention and increase time on the platform. Facebook makes more money if they can divide us against each other. And if they feed misinformation, they make more money still. They've got to stop. That's what I hope our president, and everyone, will start talking about.
BOLDUAN: Look, Scott, I'm not going to quote Justice Brandeis because I honestly couldn’t think of one off the top of my head and feel like the odd woman out right now. But no matter what words Biden uses, this is a real problem. Millions of people get their news that they seem to trust from Facebook, and the misinformation and straight-up lies about vaccines. It is pervasive. Speak to people, where they get their information, and why they've decided they don't want to get the vaccine, a lot of it is from Facebook. So if something's got to give then, what should it be?
JENNINGS: Look, I think it is at some point, you have to acknowledge the fact that people are going to do what they're going to do. We all have access to information. Yes, I agree, there is misinformation about the vaccine. As I said, I believe in it, I took it, my family took it, I hope other people do, especially people in my party, the Republican Party. But at some juncture, we have to recognize there's going to be a cohort of Americans that simply aren't going to do it. There's also people that don't wear their seatbelts, and there are people that don't wear helmets when they ride motorcycles. They've got Facebook up in Canada, and as far as I can tell from the reporting --
BOLDUAN: But if you don't wear your seatbelt it doesn't kill me or my kids. If you don't wear your seatbelt...
JENNINGS: I understand.
BOLDUAN: ...it doesn't kill me or my kid. It kills you. It's different.
JENNINGS: There is never going to be a moment when you have 100 percent of people doing anything in this country, even if it's the right thing to do. Even if we all three agree that it's a smart thing to do. And to me, it is vastly more important that we protect the underpinnings of our free society, which is free speech. Look, we have a recent history of calling things misinformation on this topic that turned out to not be misinformation. Such as the origins of where COVID came from in the first place. I think it would be a dramatically bad thing for American culture if we go down this road of letting a White House pressure private companies into censorship. I'm just telling you, you don't want the government meddling in free speech on this or any other topic.
BEGALA: I totally agree, Scott. But don't you think, this was what Dr. Murthy is suggesting. Why doesn't Facebook amplify the truthful information from Dr. Fauci --
BOLDUAN: Well, they say they are.
BEGALA: -- from CDC, from Sanjay Gupta, why don't they promote the positive stuff instead of promoting the dishonest stuff?
BOLDUAN: Guys, it's good to see you, I'm glad we solved this all right here.