CNN’s Jim Acosta is backpedaling on a comment he made to Variety, calling President Trump’s sleights against the media (like “Fake News CNN”) an “act,” but claiming there are some people around the country who don’t know it’s an act, and "they don’t have all their faculties in some cases — their elevator might not hit all floors. My concern is that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days."
After getting slammed by conservatives for apparently implying that Trump supporters are violent mental defectives, Acosta claimed his comments had been twisted and he wasn’t referring to Trump supporters but to people who would attack journalists. Okay, I take him at his word that he was misquoted. After all, who can trust the media to get quotes right?
But I can’t let this story pass without calling attention to another self-pitying comment by Acosta: “They take attacks from Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders and what they do to us on a daily basis very seriously."
Seriously, Jim? You really think that when my daughter walks into that lion’s den that used to be a crib full of lap dogs when Obama was President, and has to put up with the constant hostility, ridiculous questions, and rude shouting and sniping and interruptions, that she’s the one who’s abusing you? If that’s what you think the rest of us see, then maybe it’s your mental elevator that needs repairing.
Since CNN’s Jim Acosta has suggested that President Trump's complaining about fake news is just an “act” designed to impugn journalists, I figure it’s time for another “fake news” round-up:
“Drew Cloud” is a well-known “expert” on student loan debt whose provocative polls of college students (“Nearly 8% would move to North Korea to free themselves of student loan debt”) have been widely quoted, including by CNBC, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. He also doesn’t exist. He’s a fictional creation of a website run by a student loan refinancing company. Oops!
The New York Times corrected its claim that it’s just a “right-wing conspiracy theory” that the Palestinian Authority paid $400 million in pensions to families of terrorists who were killed or jailed in Israel for attacking Israelis. In fact, many PA officials, including President Mahmood Abbas, have publicly admitted to making the payments and vowed never to stop. The Times had to concede that it was not a “right-wing conspiracy theory,” but the truth. To make it doubly embarrassing, this fake news appeared in an article about Facebook’s new efforts to police fake news. I hope they do a better job of it than the Times.
Although maybe the Times meant that the “fake news/conspiracy theory” part was the $400 million figure. Last year, it was just over $347 million; this year, they’re increasing it to $403 million. Fact-checking!
Finally, a very special “fake news” story, for two reasons: first, it involves me, personally, so I know the real story. And second, it involves Politifact, one of those alleged “fact-checking” sites that biased news sources like to cite as evidence that their news isn’t really biased.
In this case, Polifact “fact-checked” Sen. Ted Cruz’s suggestion that Facebook showed bias against Christians when it took down the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day page that I set up to promote an event in 2012, promoting support for the chain’s founder’s First Amendment right to hold a personal religious belief in the Biblical definition of marriage. Politifact quoted a Facebook rep as saying they got a lot of complaints that the page violated their “community standards,” so their algorithm mistakenly cut it off, but after investigating and discovering it didn’t, they put the page back up just 12 hours later. So Politifact rated Cruz’s claim as only “half-true.”
Had I spoken to Politifact, I would have told them the full truth, but I guess that would’ve required a little too much fact-checking. Here’s what really went on behind the scenes:
During the build-up to the event, we received thousands of hateful messages from the left, calling us bigots for not agreeing with the posters’ view of same-sex marriage. When our page was taken down, our Facebook rep at the time told us she didn’t know why, but didn’t think it would come back online very quickly, warning that it could take days to reappear. We discovered that it was because militant LGBTQ activists deliberately attacked our page by abusing the “report this content” function to flag the page as containing offensive material and trigger its removal.
Only after we started posting publicly, accusing Facebook of religious discrimination and threatening more exposure, was it put back online (that took 12 hours). Luckily, I had a TV and radio show, giving me a megaphone that other conservatives targeted by organized leftist hate campaigns lack. I wondered what would happen to those who didn’t have the ability to reach a mass audience to tell their story about Facebook censorship. Well, now we know because it’s become a well-established pattern, with black Trump fans Diamond and Silk being the latest example. If you don’t have an outside media outlet to call attention to the censorship, you’ll shout into the wind until you’re reinstated or you aren’t, with the decision made by a faceless arbiter of community standards in Silicon Valley who likely gets hourly emails from Daily Kos.
So the truth is, we were blocked by Facebook because we were falsely smeared for our beliefs, not for the page content, which in no way promoted bigotry or hatred of gays. The argument that it wasn’t really censorship because it was offline for “only” 12 hours fails to account for the fact that had we not protested vigorously, I believe we would have been kept offline for an indeterminate number of days. The point is that Facebook took us down because of a phony, Astroturfed protest and only then looked into it, instead of reading the page first to see if the complaints were legitimate. It was outrageous, and they realized their decision was not defensible so they got it back up quicker than originally planned, but that doesn’t change the fact that they pulled down our page not because it was racist, bigoted, etc. (it was not), but simply because radical gay activists didn’t like it — even though it was not about gays and never mentioned them. It was bullying pure and simple. Facebook caved to the bullies first, then asked questions later…much later. You can call that censorship by design or censorship by inertia, but either way, it effectively silenced us on Facebook until we forced the issue and made them reinstate us. And that's the whole truth.
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