In a sign of the challenges ahead for Trump from social media censors and their journalistic allies as the 2020 campaign heats up, the New York Times is pouting that Facebook won’t censor a Trump campaign ad attacking Joe Biden over his son’s sketchy dealings in Ukraine. Reporter Cecilia Kang fretted on the front of Wednesday’s Business Day that “Facebook Won’t Pull Ads That Lie.”
After avoiding it for decades, the Times has embraced the word “lie” during Donald Trump’s administration, and now uses it in a headline to pressure Facebook, in effect working the refs for Joe Biden and Democrats in general. Now it’s a “lie” to accuse Biden of helping his son’s business dealings in Ukraine, which is a step up from the paper’s previous favorite word for the controversy, “unsubstantiated” (click “expand”):
The 30-second video ad released by the Trump campaign last week is grainy, and the narrator’s voice is foreboding. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., it says, offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid if the country pushed out the man investigating a company tied to Mr. Biden’s son.
Saying it made false accusations, CNN immediately refused to air the advertisement.
But Facebook did not, and on Tuesday, the social network rejected a request from Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign to take it down, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election as well as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
In a letter to the Biden campaign, Facebook said the ad, which has been viewed five million times on the site, did not violate company policies. Last month, the social network, which has more than two billion users, announced that politicians and their campaigns had nearly free rein over content they post there.
Kang was disturbed not about the Biden campaign’s attempt to squelch an opposing view, but at Facebook for daring to run an ad unapproved by liberal fact-checkers (click “expand”):
Even false statements and misleading content in ads, the company has said, are an important part of the political conversation.
The decision by the company illustrates its executives’ hardened resolve to stay out of the moderation of political speech, despite the use of the social network to spread discord and disinformation in the 2016 presidential campaign. On Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a sobering report warning of fresh signs of interference by Russia and other foreign nations in the 2020 election.
The company’s position stands in contrast to CNN, which rejected two ads from the Trump campaign last week, including the one the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down. The cable channel said it rejected the ad because it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets.”
Facebook has been dogged by accusations of censorship by conservative politicians, including President Trump, who argue that the Silicon Valley company gives greater attention to liberal points of views on the social network.
There is no evidence that Mr. Biden, during his time as vice president, pushed for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor general to help his son Hunter Biden. The former vice president, along with other members of the Obama administration and other international leaders, pushed for the removal of the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because of accusations that he ignored corruption.
She cited Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz heavily, perhaps because he cited the mainstream press and a "fact checker" in Biden's defense:
Mr. Schultz wrote that the vice president’s call for a new prosecutor in Ukraine’s investigation of a company was supported by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He included clippings from The Washington Post and Factcheck.org that debunked the claims of Mr. Biden’s motives of squashing the investigation to benefit his son.
Kang really covered the waterfront, finding another Biden spokesman:
T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Mr. Biden, wrote in an email that “Donald Trump has demonstrated he will continue to subvert our democratic institutions for his own personal gain, but his shortcomings are no excuse for companies like Facebook to refuse to do the right thing.”
In August 2018, Kang wondered why it was so difficult for Twitter to “rid its site of harassment, misinformation, and the promotion of fringe hate groups.” (Defined by who?)