Republicans Gamed Mainstream Media to Be More Conservative, Now They’re Coming for Social Media

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I have mentioned in a previous article, there is a Nazi phrase that if you repeat a lie enough times, eventually it becomes true. That’s the case with the phrase “liberal media,” a buzz word that’s been thrown around for the last 30 years. Eventually people began to believe it, even though the mainstream American media is effectively center right.

Most media outlets are owned by corporations. They’re only interested in helping sell the corporate line which is telling the masses to go out and buy more stuff. And because of media mergers and consolidation, you’re left with a landscape where the same corporation often owns the news station and the products it’s supposed to report on. So how objective can they really be? Case in point, during the 1990s, when “The X-Files,” was popular, I would often see local FOX affiliates doing stories on paranormal events. These were effectively PR spots for “The X-Files” show.

There are plenty of examples of the media being anything but liberal, for example New York Times reporter Judith Miller helped the George W. Bush administration sell the Iraq War and the media gave the Trump campaign billions of dollars in free media, because in former CBS chairman Les Moonves words, it was “good for ratings.”

But the “liberal media myth” was a Jedi mind trick planted by Republicans several years ago. The idea was to accuse the media of being liberal, so they would bend over backwards to avoid any hint of bias. And by doing so they effectively became center right. Ironically, media outlets such as CNN are still accused of being too liberal. Some conservative call CNN Communist News Network, which shows a total lack of understanding of the word communist. I guess they won’t be happy until CNN is as far-right as Breitbart, which has a “black crime” section!

But now the Trump administration is trying the same trick with social media. According to Bloomberg, Trump is considering drafting an executive order that would require Department of Justice officials to “thoroughly investigate” tech companies to “protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias.”

Not satisfied with trying to bend the print and electronic media to his will, Trump is now trying to force social media companies to lean to the right. Accusing Facebook and Twitter of being biased is even more ridiculous than accusing CNN of being too liberal. Social media companies are driven by algorithms and user content. Most social media companies tend to operate on the basis of pushing out information which is popular. The news stories that appear on the top of your Google search are the newest and most talked about.

Trump didn’t understand the reason why he sees a lot of negative stories at the top of his Google search is because his administration generates a lot of negative stories! (Bye the way, a quick way of suppressing negative information on a Google search is by swamping it with positive news. This pushes the negative news down the page and eventually to the second page of search results, which few people bother to look at.)

A similar situation happened at Twitter where CEO Jack Dorsey dragged his feet in cracking down on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has been posting vile material for years. Dorsey was afraid of being smeared with the “liberal” brush.

The real goal of attacking social media companies is to get them to shift the needle to the right. The Trump administration wants to bully them into moving away from using algorithms to curate news stories and add the human touch — more specifically the conservative touch.

And that’s happening, Facebook has already hired some media companies to assist with fact checking. One of the companies selected was the Weekly Standard, a conservative outlet, and they have already shown their bias.

Last week, a ThinkProgress story about Brett Kavanaugh story was flagged even though it was accurate. The conservative fact checker deemed it false, simply because he didn’t agree with the story. (If you study Trump’s use of the term “fake news,” it could mean anything he doesn’t like.)

“By deferring to the Weekly Standard’s judgment, Facebook is picking sides in an ideological debate. That’s not just appeasement of conservatives, it’s complete surrender,” said Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern.

The long-term goal of the Trump administration’s war on social media is not to make the news more accurate. They want to make the news pro-conservative. They won’t be happy until Breitbart stories, singing Trump’s praises show up, at the top of your news feed.

Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.

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