Have you noticed how establishment media doesn’t label January 6th a domestic terrorist attack, in spite of FBI Director Wray specifically labeling it as such in a hearing? Or the way social media goes out of its way to appease Republicans who violate its rules, only to have them turn around and accuse the same media of catering to liberals?
It’s called working the ref. Republicans have been doing this for decades, accusing the media of being liberal even as media has been consolidated by right wing power brokers, billionaires, and far right demagogues.
In order to appease the right, media enforcement has to gaslight the rest of us about known facts and obvious threats to our own safety, including the proliferation of gun-fetishizing incels, racially-radicalized failures intent on harming people of color to excuse their own inadequacies, and anti-government terrorists who are so angry about being asked to wear a thin paper mask that they plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor. We might note that many of these types also identify as Trumpzis, and they were represented on Jan 6th, and many were wearing a mask to hide their identity.
The recent far right attempt to elevate the “Twitter files” to mean the opposite of what the evidence provided suggested worked in so far as it sucked up the oxygen in the room so it seemed few noticed the story being told by the evidence, and so conservatives are nursing their self-pity and victim status in what is a typical abuse manipulation tactic comprised of deny, attack, reverse victim and offender (DARVO).
They do it because it works. It works on establishment corporate media and it works on establishment corporate social media.
Tech Dirt pointed out we “learned is that Trump and other Republican leaders were actually given special treatment over the years, because they tended to violate policies way more often than Democrats. But, knowing that Republicans would flop to the ground and fake injury any time they were faced with even having to take the slightest bit of responsibility for violating policies, all the big social media platforms went above and beyond to better protect the high profile accounts of Republican rule breakers.”
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“Do you want to have more blood on your hands?” a Twitter safety employee asked top Twitter executive Del Harvey when Harvey questioned whether Trump could inspire more violence in the insurrection’s aftermath.
The exchange, relayed by former Twitter employees to the Jan. 6 committee, was included in a summary of investigative findings prepared by committee staff and obtained by Rolling Stone, “most of which were not included in the committee’s final report.”
“Twitter reportedly told the committee that it instituted the draft coded incitement to violence policy once rioters made it inside the Capitol, but former employees said the on-the-fly implementation was vague, confused, and ad hoc. The result of the delay, they argued, meant that “members of the Safety Policy Team were manually taking down violent tweets, including those including ‘#ExecuteMikePence,’ using only the Twitter search function.”
“The sheer scale of Republican post-election rage paralyzed decision makers at Twitter and Facebook, who feared political reprisals if they took strong action.”
In a jointly published Just Security/ Tech Policy Press piece adding context for what didn’t make it into that report that Rolling Stone obtained, investigators wrote that right-wing networks played a key role in driving the spread of content behind the attack:
“While Trump played an instrumental role in driving the attack, right-wing networks – comprised of everyone from mainstream talking heads to extremist armed groups – drove the mass spread of conspiracy theories and far-right content on social media.
“That spread could not have occurred without corporate policies of social media platforms and other enterprises that allowed dangerous rhetoric to proliferate online and ultimately contribute to violence in the real world. As investigators for the Committee, we were charged with examining the role these factors played in the events of January 6th. In this essay, we aim to call attention to the role that social media activity irrefutably played in the insurrection and to highlight the continuing threats to American democracy, as well as to share lessons learned that may help prevent future political violence.”
We have long been told that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were just catering to their bottom line in allowing the proliferation of hate. But this additional reporting shows that it was not their profit they had in mind. It was fear of Republicans.
“While it is possible this is true more generally, our investigation found little direct evidence for this motivation in the context of the 2020 election. Advocates for bold action within these companies – such as Facebook’s “break glass” measures or Twitter’s policies for handling implicit incitement to violence – were more likely to meet resistance for political reasons than explicitly financial ones.”
Why does it matter? Because even when Trump is gone, the rising threat of domestic terrorism will not go away. By focusing on Trump as the driver, the real power behind him, such as the elites driving the Republican Party platform, get off scot-free to rinse and repeat, just as Trump was a repeat on steroids of Sarah Palin’s hate.
“While skeptics of social media’s role in the attack might say that the causal relationship between these tools and the violence itself is tenuous, this is a strawman argument. Regardless of whether online activity is a direct cause of extremist violence, social media platforms are responsible for conducting due diligence against abuse of their services.”
“The events of January 6th resulted from many interrelated factors, including increasingly radical rhetoric from leading conservative voices both on- and offline, and an alarming uptick in people who believe political violence to be a viable solution.
These threats to U.S. democracy are likely to outlive Trump’s political relevance, and they were not outside the purview of the Committee…
Our findings suggest that the intersection between social media and violent extremism remains pervasive and, in fact, a central component of the Internet.”
And lastly, because facts matter, “One clear conclusion from our investigation is that proponents of the recently released “Twitter Files,” who claim that platform suspensions of the former President are evidence of anti-conservative bias, have it completely backward. Platforms did not hold Trump to a higher standard by removing his account after January 6th. Rather, for years they wrote rules to avoid holding him and his supporters accountable; it took an attempted coup d’état for them to change course. Evidence and testimony provided by members of Twitter’s Trust & Safety team make clear that those arguing Trump was held to an unfair double standard are willfully neglecting or overlooking the significance of January 6th in the context of his ban from major platforms. In the words of one Twitter employee who came forward to the Committee, if Trump had been ‘any other user on Twitter, he would have been permanently suspended a very long time ago.’”
So why is everyone pretending they don’t smell the stench? Why did the committee leave this important context out? Why is our media pretending January 6th was a “riot” instead of domestic terrorism, other than to appease right-wingers?
If we are too afraid to use the proper labels for things like domestic terrorism because they might offend people, we are incentivizing them to further political extremism and violence, because it is working for them. Might I suggest that we instead incentivize them to stop committing acts of terrorism by not catering to their threats, by not giving them what they want and hoping they don’t get angry. They’re always angry. They’re going to be angry and make accusations no matter what. That’s the nature of the beast.
What else comes to mind here is that for all of their accusations of liberals being snowflakes and their mocking of the use of pronouns, it is conservatives who are so sensitive about being labeled that our entire media structure is bending over backward to avoid the elephant in the room.
Yes, using threats of violence to get a political outcome is domestic terrorism. End of story. For the safety of all citizens, these people need to be held to account. Social media companies need to stop bending the rules to accommodate violent and dangerous rhetoric.
Next time we’re doing to dive into how law enforcement has obstructed attempts by lawmakers to get information about domestic terrorism.
This is Sarah Jones on the Politicus Pod for PoliticusUSA’s The Daily. If you’re tired of billionaires controlling the news you see and you want to be a part of the movement supporting news for The People, subscribe to our Substack.
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