Mainstream media’s contempt for colleagues on the right burst into view Thursday with their coverage of President Trump’s Social Media Summit at the White House.
“Trump praises Twitter trolls at ‘Social Media Summit’ read the headline on NBC News. Subhead: “President Trump hosted a group of race-baiting conspiracy theorists at the White House for what was dubbed ‘a social media summit.’”
“President Trump’s performance today was surreal and comic and kind of pathetic,” said Chris Hayes on the segment under that headline. “But the people he invited to the White House very real vectors of disinformation that were very much a part of electing the president in the first place.”
He then brought on a reporter whom he said had been covering disinformation on social media to say, “This was labeled as a talk about censorship on social media. This was just … this was an awards ceremony basically.”
Hayes responded by talking about a book he had read that said conservative social media people were “marginal figures in many ways, 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.”
Ben Collins, the reporter, said he talked to disinformation researchers “and seeing the names that were walking through that door today and they said these were the same people who were at the center of these network graphs …. In the public sphere, you may not know their names, but you definitely know the smears they pushed out. That’s the point. In fact, if you know their names, they’re probably not doing their jobs correctly. They want to lay low enough in mainstream media that they can continue to push this stuff.”
Hayes then showed – as “a perfect example of the ridiculousness of this enterprise” – a clip of Sebastian Gorka, a former presidential aide and now a media ally, confronting Brian Karam, the Playboy correspondent to the White House. It left out the part where Karam was shouting indiscriminately over the speakers at the program but left in the part where Gorka said he was a “punk” and “not a journalist.”
The story on National Public Radio’s website also expressed concern about “extreme” views being given a voice on social media. It quoted Angelo Carusone of the far-left Media Matters saying some of the guests at the event “alarm him. ‘There’s a couple of establishment players there, but for the most part they’re far-right extremists and a lot of people with ties to white nationalism.”
Ashley Parker of the Washington Post suggested without any evidence that President Trump tweeted about President Obama bugging his offices before the election just to get likes on Twitter.
Trump was “reminiscing on some of his greatest Twitter hits,” Parker wrote in “’Like a rocket’: Trump revels in his love-hate relationship with Twitter,” when he said, “Remember when I said someone was spying on me?”
“That ‘somebody’ was President Barack Obama,” Parker wrote. “And Trump was referring to a series of his own tweets in March 2017 in which he falsely – and with no evidence offered – accused his predecessor of committing what would probably have been an illegal act.”
She then wrote: “But to hear Trump tell it now, the entire controversy – which gripped the nation for weeks to come – was simply a lark, a convenient way for him to boost his social media following into the stratosphere while dominating the conversation here on Earth.”
She later wrote that Trump “repeated the bogus spying claim and continued. ‘That thing was like a rocket,’ he said, popping up his right thumb and shooting it skyward.’”
There now, of course, appears to be quite a bit of evidence Trump was spied upon by the Obama administration, and Attorney General William Barr has indicated he is investigating the origins of the entire Trump-Russia situation to see if the government improperly surveilled the president and his campaign.