Now Trending on Facebook: Conservative Crybabies.
Actually, scratch that. Conservative Crybabies can’t be trending, because the “conservative movement”—which is itself the fancy brand name created by the for-profit conservative media to describe the corporate-sponsored manipulation of economically aggrieved white citizens—has spent decades cultivating a mindset that reframes its paranoid aggressions as legitimate and necessary forms of self-defense.
Consider Donald Trump, the Capo di tutti capi of this scam. The moment some hapless pundit works up the nerve to confront the presumptive GOP nominee for president, he opens his gaping mouth-anus and excretes his go-to phrase: Politically Correct!
Yes, it’s the mean old PC police who are the antagonists here, who are trying to silence innocent billionaires by raising moral questions about, for instance, his fascistic plan to register Muslims, or his eerily terroristic call to kill the families of alleged ISIS members, or his triumphant slandering of entire nationalities.
This rhetorical jujitsu has become such a habitual and unchallenged aspect of conservative agitprop that it’s often hard to detect, even in plain sight. Think of it as the right wing’s very own “PC movement”—a relentless blaring Persecution Complex meant to drown out any facts deemed inconvenient to the narrative.
You will, for instance, remember the fake “climategate” scandal, in which a bunch of renegade researchers were supposedly being frozen out because their data contradicted the scientific consensus on climate change. Only that story turned out to be total bullshit.
As did the whole notion of death panels, which the Obama administration was going to institute to rub out any conservative grannies who dared to oppose the Affordable Care Act.
The conservative PC movement is what allows gun-toting madmen to see themselves as religious martyrs when they gun down human beings whose “crime” is that they provide reproductive health services to poor women. At its extreme, it’s what prompts men like Timothy McVeigh to perpetrate acts of mass murder in response to the “tyranny” of the U.S. Government.
And the conservative PC movement is on full display right now, even as we speak, in the manufactured controversy over Facebook.
A brief summary of the current silliness ensues:
Last week, the tech site Gizmodo published a report in which a former Facebook employee—who remained anonymous, conveniently—alleged that the social networking site suppressed news stories from conservative media outlets in its Trending Topics section.
This allegation fit right into the narrative fostered by decades of conservative trolling: that the good old lamestream media is out to get white folks who believe in guns, God, and corporate tax loopholes.
The result was an immediate PC Red Alert, with Mandatory Grandstanding. Senator John Thune—chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee—took a break from his busy schedule of not confirming Supreme Court nominees or voting on any meaningful legislation to fire off a letter to Facebook Boss Mark Zuckerberg demanding answers, dammit! With publicity circus hearings to follow.
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg went into a predictable corporate panic and immediately invited a bunch of Conservative Crybabies to a meeting, including Glenn Beck, who is apparently still alive, along with a senior Trump advisor.
Zuckerberg will no doubt plead forgiveness, while also, perhaps, serving these luminaries ecologically sourced Freedom Fries.
Why? Because Zuckerberg is the head of the largest media company in the world—one that is pretty much an unregulated monopoly—and he can ill-afford the perception that his website has a bias against conservative users, whom he prefers to think of as loyal customers.
And does his massive platform have a bias against conservatives? No, it appears to have a bias against irresponsible, propagandistic news outlets, which, in the eyes of the conservative PC crowd amounts to the same thing.
After all, the underlying claim against Facebook is that its “curators” chose to “suppress” news items from conservative websites such as Breitbart.com and Newsmax.
Those not familiar with Breitbart.com can get a taste of its journalistic standards by examining the case of Shirley Sherrod, a federal employee who delivered an eloquent speech about the necessity for racial tolerance. The late blogger Andrew Breitbart edited the speech to make her appear racist, and Sherrod was fired. When the full tape of the speech emerged, it became clear that Breitbart had engineered (to restore some dignity to the phrase) a “high-tech lynching.” She was immediately rehired, and his estate later settled a lawsuit Sherrod filed against him out of court.
Even within the mangled definition of media, there’s a clear and discernible difference between news sources that make some effort to report stories based on facts and sources, and websites that retail right-wing agitprop.
Again: fearing a hit to his bottom line, Zuckerberg will no doubt bow and scrape before his conservative guests.
In fact, he should be celebrating the fact that Facebook has human beings who make editorial judgments, and who have a bias against phony news sources. Because in the absence of such judgment, Americans will continue to confuse propaganda with information.
In fact, it is the Orwellian raison d’etre of the conservative PC movement to obscure this distinction, to equate the evidential and sourced reporting of newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to the partisan hackery of the Daily Caller. Think of it as moral relativism, Karl Rove style.
Whatever else it might be at this point, Facebook ranks as also the largest media company in the world. Zuckerberg wants to portray his site as a kind of neutral playground where everybody gets a voice, a kind of public utility.
But it’s not. It’s a massive private company, one that is now in the news business. Thanks to the First Amendment, Zuckerberg has the right to employ editors. Heck, those editors even have a right to pursue a moral agenda, as may have happened when so-called “curators” allegedly decided to list Black Lives Matter as a trending topic even though it wasn’t among the most popular on the site.
Yes, Virginia, that happened—actual human beings with actual consciences made an editorial decision that superseded its almighty algorithm—here in America. Gasp!
Facebook could do the whole country a big favor, right now, by using this kerfuffle to announce its intention not to traffic in any stories that aren’t supported by facts. Period. No more fever dreams about Benghazi. No more phony disputes about global climate change. No more indulging Donald Trump’s expanding shitpile of lies.
A guy with power and ambitions of Zuckerberg needs to decide if he wants his company to advocate for truth and moral progress. Or if he wants it to be another profit source that traffics in whatever sort of pathological opinions keep the sponsors happy.