MSNBC's Hayes Mocks Social Media Summit as 'Ice Cream Social For Trolls'

July 12th, 2019 4:26 PM

MSNBC host Chris Hayes devoted a two minute-long monologue to trashing President Trump’s social media summit on Thursday’s edition of All In. According to Hayes, “instead of social media companies like Twitter and Facebook, they invited a pack of Trump-supporting, race-baiting conspiracy theorists.” Hayes also described the event as an “ice cream social for trolls.”

For the record, attendees at the event included Lila Rose of the pro-life group Live Action, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Congressman Matt Gaetz; all well-established voices in the conservative movement. After playing some video clips from the event, Hayes warned that “what took place at the White House today threatens to further undermine the truth in American politics.”

Many of the guests at the summit have experienced this censorship firsthand. Twitter blocked an ad by Blackburn highlighting her work on behalf of the pro-life movement that referred to her work stopping “the sale of body parts,” describing the content as “inflammatory.”



Nearly two years after the censorship of Blackburn’s ad, another social media company, Pinterest “permanently suspended” Live Action’s account. During a brief speech at the social media summit, Rose brought up her organization’s censorship by Pinterest as well as its four-year-long ban on doing any advertising on Twitter; adding that the social media giant told the company “we’d have to stop calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and stop sharing our pro-life content.”

Not surprisingly, Hayes did not bring any of this up; as it would not advance his narrative that conservative censorship on social media is nothing more than a fringe conspiracy theory. Following a commercial break, Hayes trashed the President’s “performance” at the social media summit as “surreal and pathetic” before once again slamming the attendees as representing “very real vectors of disinformation that were very much responsible for electing the President in the first place.” 

Hayes brought on NBC News Reporter Ben Collins to discuss the summit further. Collins joined Hayes in painting the attendees with a broad brush, claiming that “These people who were invited today got famous because the algorithms made it so the loudest voices won; especially on YouTube, especially on Twitter. These people were able to build audiences and quit their jobs and get jobs just yelling at people on YouTube.” 

Hayes was hardly an outlier when it came to his outrageous analysis of the social media summit. MSNBC’s Ali Velshi portrayed the social media summit as a “coalition of dirty tricksters” while Bloomberg wrote an article with the headline: “What to Know in Washington: Summit Brings Fringe to White House.” From their rush to dismiss the situation at the border as a “manufactured crisis” to their insistence on smearing the guests at the social media summit, it looks like the media have a little problem with “disinformation” themselves.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s edition of All In is below. Click “expand” to read more.

All In With Chris Hayes


08:49 PM


CHRIS HAYES: They called it a summit, but this was no Yalta. This afternoon, White House hosted what they dubbed a social media summit to ostensibly discuss the challenges in today’s online environment but instead of social media companies like Twitter and Facebook, they invited a pack of Trump-supporting, race-baiting conspiracy theorists, kind of like an ice cream social for trolls. And the troll in chief, the man who is, and I mean this earnestly, literally more gifted at trolling than anyone in history, the man who trolled himself into the White House, stole the show. It was basically what you would expect.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I call Twitter a typewriter. That’s what I really call Twitter. I’m very, very careful. I…really, I’m actually a good speller. But everyone said the…the fingers aren’t as good as the brain. There’s no doubt in my mind that I should have millions and millions. I have millions of people; so many people, I wouldn’t believe it. But I know that we’ve been blocked. I used to watch it be like a rocket ship when I put out a beauty.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Like when I said…remember, I said somebody was spying on me? That thing was like a rocket. I get a call two…two minutes later. Did you say that? I said “yeah, I said that.” Well, it’s exploding. It’s exploding. I turned out to be right. I turned out to be right. Some of you are extraordinary, the…the crap you think of is unbelievable. I mean, some of you guys are out there. But even you should have a voice. But some of you; no some of you deserve…


PRESIDENT TRUMP: …some of you. I mean, it’s genius, but it’s bad. Our country is really powerful and really strong. Never been like this. Whoops. How did a fly get into the White House? I don’t like that. I don’t like flies. I don’t like flies.


HAYES: Just a note…he, he…it was not true that he was being spied on or wiretapped. Tapping his phones, I think, is the tweet…tweet he was referring to, which was false; like so many of the things the President tweets. The President then opened the floor for questions and called on former Deputy Assistant to the President, now right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka. But right as Gorka was asking his question about censorship, the audio was cut off.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: How’s your new show going? Good?

SEBASTIAN GORKA: Very well. Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I heard good.

GORKA: Thank you. Yes, indeed. America First, Salem Radio Networks. Sebastian Gorka.


HAYES: 15 seconds later, the video went to black and the press was escorted from the room. Now, it can be easy to laugh at the so-called summit but what took place at the White House today threatens to further undermine the truth in American politics. We’ll talk about that right after this.


8:55:16 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP: From the standpoint of, of, of, of somebody that maybe has used social media better than anybody, Judge, because I became President. I’m sure I could have done it, as we said, much…I would have, there’s no question I would have done it either way.

HAYES: The President’s performance today was surreal and comic and kind of pathetic, but the people he invited at the White House represent very real vectors of disinformation that were very much a part of electing the President in the first place. Joining me now, someone who has been closely covering disinformation on social media, NBC News reporter Ben Collins. What was today all about?

BEN COLLINS: It kind of felt like commencement of the first meme war, where he was, you know, saying…

HAYES: Yeah.

COLLINS: …like, hey guys, congratulations for all the work you’ve done in the past couple of years helping me out, you know, setting narratives on…on Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes using disinformation, sometimes not, sometimes just rabid support. And by the way, buckle up. We’re…we’re about to do this all over again. It really…any idea that this…this was labeled as a talk about censorship on social media. This was just…it was an awards ceremony basically.

HAYES: In which he is, I mean, these folks, I just read a book that’s coming out in the fall is great on this topic called Antisocial. You know, these folks, really, like they’re marginal figures in many ways…


HAYES: …but they were actually quite central to the ways in which vectors of disinformation and memes and attacks on Hillary Clinton and other people seeded into the public consciousness in 2016.

COLLINS: Yeah, I talked to a bunch of disinformation researchers about this meeting and seeing the names that were walking through that door today and they said these are the same people that are at the, the very center of these network graphs. You see like the center of the node and then these…then it explodes out with all these other smaller accounts. Right? In the public sphere, you may not know their names, but you definitely know the smears that they pushed out. And that’s the point. They…in fact, if you know their names, it’s probably…they’re not doing their jobs correctly. They want to lay low enough in mainstream media so they continue to push this stuff. That’s why today is sort of a double-edged sword. He wants to bring them in, he wants to say good job, nice job, everybody but he didn’t really want to, you know, he didn’t want to get rid of the anonymity they have, they have been provided.

HAYES: Well, and then you have, I just want to say this because this is sort of a perfect example of like the ridiculousness of this enterprise. This is Sebastian Gorka, who actually was…worked in the White House on the National Security Council of all places, like getting heckled and then yelling at someone in the Rose Garden? Can we have that? Can we play that?


SEBASTIAN GORKA: You are a punk! You’re not a journalist! You’re a punk!

CROWD: Gorka! Gorka! Gorka! Gorka! Gorka! Gorka! Gorka!


HAYES: That’s Brian Karem, who reports at the White House for Playboy, he only got a job as Gorka walked away but that’s like…that’s sort of the vibe. That vibe just there, contentious, sort of down the block tough; feist, like fighters.

COLLINS: It’s…it’s important to not disassociate this from the larger problems we have social…with social media right now. These people who were invited today got famous because the algorithms made it so the loudest voices won; especially on YouTube, especially on Twitter. These people were able to build audiences and quit their jobs and get jobs just yelling at people on YouTube.

HAYES: Off the algorithm. This is so key to…


HAYES: …understand. Like, the rea…like, it…there’s not just some like meritocratic playing field, it’s the things that activate a certain kind of emotional response; particularly like hatred or anger. Right? Those are the things the algorithm is pushing up to the top and these folks have benefitted from…they have had a thumb on the scale in favor of them at these major places like Facebook and YouTube.

COLLINS: Yeah, exactly. So, what…what YouTube’s algorithm did was here is a political video that…that you liked that’s benign. Here is a louder version of that and a louder version of that and a louder…that’s what auto play did on that service until a couple of months ago.

HAYES: Right.

COLLINS: So, that these people have grown immense audiences worthy of the President’s approval here is not surprising.

HAYES: And it’s why they and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and these conservative Senators and Trump are all obsessed…


HAYES: …with what rules Facebook and YouTube put into effect for these platforms.

COLLINS: Yeah, it’s hard to know actually at this point, I would say, who has power over who. Who’s…who’s creating the policy and who is catering to the people who want that policy passed. In a lot of the cases, you know, a lot of these sort of hit campaigns start and then make their way to the President and if you’re making policy based on the loudest possible voice on YouTube and Twitter, that’s where it gets really dangerous.