NBC & CBS Upset by Zuckerberg Refusing to Censor Political Speech

Listen to the Article!

On Friday, both NBC’s Today show and CBS This Morning labeled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to censor political speech on the social network as “controversial.” The coverage emphasized that 2020 Democratic candidates were particularly upset by move, after trying to pressure Facebook into banning ads from the President Trump’s reelection campaign.

“And just ahead this morning, Facebook doubling down. Why Mark Zuckerberg says the social media giant will not censor political speech,” co-host Savannah Guthrie teased on the Today show. Introducing the segment minutes later, she declared: “...a speech by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that has that CEO under fire.”

 

 

Referring to Zuckerberg delivering an address at Georgetown University about his decision not to censor political ads, fellow co-host Hoda Kotb explained: “Faced with growing calls to do more to control political speech and misinformation, Zuckerberg defended his company’s controversial hands-off approach.”

Correspondent Jo Ling Kent proclaimed: “Mark Zuckerberg doubling down on Facebook’s controversial decision not to fact-check Facebook ads from political candidates.” A soundbite followed of Zuckerberg telling the audience: “We think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”

Moments later, Kent touted Joe Biden’s campaign bitterly whining over the speech:

Last month, President Trump’s campaign stirring up controversy for using the platform to share misinformation on Hunter Biden and Ukraine through a campaign ad. Now, the Biden campaign striking back on Zuckerberg’s speech, saying, “his choice to cloak Facebook’s policy in a feigned concern for free expression demonstrates how unprepared his company is for this unique moment in our history.”

To NBC’s credit, Kent did briefly mention how “Republicans rail against Facebook for allegedly censoring conservative news.” A clip was featured of Fox News anchor Dana Perino interviewing Zuckerberg and asking: “Kamala Harris has said that she thinks that Twitter should shut down President Trump’s account. Do you think that’s a ridiculous idea?” Zuckerberg replied: “In a democracy, I don’t think that we want private companies censoring politicians and the news.”

“Coming up, Mark Zuckerberg’s controversial comments about censoring politicians,” co-host Anthony Mason announced on CBS This Morning. Of course the only controversy was that Zuckerberg was refusing to censor politicians. As the segment began in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, Mason warned: “In a speech at my alma mater, Georgetown University, Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s decision to allow politicians to post speeches and ads, even if they contain lies.”

In a soundbite, Zuckerberg argued: “We’re at another crossroads. We can either continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us.”

Mason touted how “That brought a sharp response from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who wants to break up Facebook.” The anchor then recited a tweet from the left-wing Senator: “Mark Zuckerberg’s speech today shows how little he learned from 2016 and how unprepared Facebook is to handle the 2020 election.”  

Fellow co-host Tony Dokoupil worried: “I don’t know if you can define lies as ‘ideas that challenge us.’” Mason bemoaned: “I don’t know how you can be happy, as someone – a proprietor of a company – that your company is essentially spreading misinformation.”

If only disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather had followed that standard.

On Tuesday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King actually defended Zuckerberg against left-wing complaints that the Facebook CEO had conducted meetings with conservative leaders over censorship concerns.  

The disturbing irony of the news media that make their living from the First Amendment actually being upset by a social media company refusing to censor political speech is stunning.

Here is a full transcript of the October 18 repot on NBC’s Today show:

7:42 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: This morning on In-Depth Today, a speech by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that has that CEO under fire.

HODA KOTB: Faced with growing calls to do more to control political speech and misinformation, Zuckerberg defended his company’s controversial hands-off approach. NBC’s Jo Ling Kent has our story here. Hey, Jo, good morning.

JO LING KENT: Hoda, Savannah, good morning to you guys. Mark Zuckerberg says he spent a lot of time putting together what he called an unfiltered speech about freedom of expression, after three years of scandal over Facebook’s role in the spread of misinformation and hate speech. He went on offense and defense. And that has both Republicans and Democrats firing back.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Facebook Doubles Down; Zuckerberg Says Social Media Giant Won’t Censor Political Speech]

Mark Zuckerberg doubling down on Facebook’s controversial decision not to fact-check Facebook ads from political candidates.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: We think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.

KENT: At a carefully orchestrated event at Georgetown University, Zuckerberg used teleprompters to give a 35-minute speech on freedom of expression, revealing for the first time how close he came to banning political ads entirely.

ZUCKERBERG: I have considered whether we should stop allowing them altogether. From a business perspective, the controversy certainly is not worth the very small part of our business that they make up.

KENT: Last month, President Trump’s campaign stirring up controversy for using the platform to share misinformation on Hunter Biden and Ukraine through a campaign ad. Now, the Biden campaign striking back on Zuckerberg’s speech, saying, “his choice to cloak Facebook’s policy in a feigned concern for free expression demonstrates how unprepared his company is for this unique moment in our history.”

After Zuckerberg invoked Martin Luther King Jr. for freedom of expression, Twitter lit up with this critique from the civil rights leader’s daughter, Bernice King: “I’d like to help Facebook better understand the challenges MLK faced from disinformation campaigns launched by politicians. These campaigns created an atmosphere for his assassination.”

The war of words comes as Republicans rail against Facebook for allegedly censoring conservative news.

TUCKER CARLSON [FOX NEWS]: Tech censorship.

KENT: Zuckerberg saying this to Dana Perino on Fox News.

DANA PERINO: Kamala Harris has said that she thinks that Twitter should shut down President Trump’s account. Do you think that’s a ridiculous idea?

ZUCKERBERG: In a democracy, I don’t think that we want private companies censoring politicians and the news.

KENT: Now, at the end of his remarks, Zuckerberg tried to crack a joke, saying, “It would be hard to be biased against both sides,” and that got a few laughs at Georgetown. But all this comes before he testifies before the House Finance Committee in Washington next week. And he’s going to be facing serious questions on privacy, security, and how Facebook and Instagram are using our personal data. Guys?

KOTB: Alright, Jo in Los Angeles, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of the report on CBS This Morning:

8:14 AM ET

ANTHONY MASON: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he does not think private companies should censor politicians or their messages. In a speech at my alma mater, Georgetown University, Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s decision to allow politicians to post speeches and ads, even if they contain lies. Facebook was widely criticized after it was used to spread misinformation about the 2016 presidential election.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Zuckerberg Fires Back; CEO Defends Facebook’s Ad Policy Involving Politicians]

MARK ZUCKERBERG: We’re at another crossroads. We can either continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us.

MASON: That brought a sharp response from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who wants to break up Facebook. She tweeted, “Mark Zuckerberg’s speech today shows how little he learned from 2016 and how unprepared Facebook is to handle the 2020 election.”

TONY DOKOUPIL: I don’t know if you can define lies as “ideas that challenge us.”

GAYLE KING: Right, right.

DOKOUPIL: The thing to remember here is that lies are powerful, and, therefore, profitable for Facebook. And that context cannot be forgotten as you evaluate that speech.

MASON: I don’t know how you can be happy, as someone – a proprietor of a company – that your company is essentially spreading misinformation. I don’t know how you –

KING: That’s certainly a discussion. The two of them should have lunch and let us sit there and record it.

MASON: Yeah, that would be an interesting lunch. Yes.  

KING: I think that would be a very interesting lunch.

MASON: Yeah, we can invite them to the table together.

KING: We should invite them – yeah, yeah. Thinking the same, thank you, Anthony.

MASON: They can debate their ideas right here.

KING: Yes, I would pay for that.

MASON: Yeah, me, too.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Facebook CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Mark Zuckerberg Anthony Mason Savannah Guthrie

Sponsored Links