"The Bombs Are Still Falling" - MSNBC Urges Government Censorship Of Social Media "To Protect Democracy"

Authored by Chris Reeves via NewsBusters.org,

On Friday’s Morning Joe, Willie Geist hosted a panel to discuss the latest news on the Russian hacking narrative regarding Facebook ads that were purportedly used by Russian intelligence to stoke "racial tensions" during the 2016 presidential election.

The panel’s primary reaction, with only one dissenting voice, was to call for increased government "regulation" and financial “penalties in the hundreds of millions” to shut down alleged Russian influencers.

The segment started off with Geist introducing the latest reporting on the topic:

GEIST: Twitter says it has shut down more than two-hundred accounts that were tied to the same Russian operatives who bought political ads on Facebook. Of the 450 accounts released by Facebook as part of its investigation, Twitter was able to match 22 of them to its own site. The disclosure by Twitter followed a briefing by company officials to staffers of the Senate and House Intel committees yesterday. Following that meeting, the top Democrat on the Senate committee, Mark Warner, slammed Twitter for its presentation.


SEN. MARK WARNER [D-VA]: [playing clip] The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate Intel staff today was deeply disappointing. The notion that their work was basically derivative based upon accounts that Facebook had identified showed enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and, again, begs many more questions than they offered.




GEIST: The top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, also weighed in on Twitter’s briefing to his committee, releasing a statement that read, in part: "... it is clear that Twitter has significant forensic work to do to understand the depth and breadth of Russian activity during the campaign. This additional analysis will require far more robust investigation into how Russian actors used their platform as a part of their active measures campaign..."

Without any perceptible degree of skepticism about the Democratic Congressmen's claims, Geist then teed up Nicolle Wallace, host of the MSNBC afternoon show Deadline: White House, to talk about social media and the 2016 election more generally:

GEIST: You do get the sense, Nicolle, that Facebook, Twitter, social media was totally clueless about what was happening on their sites during the 2016 campaign.


WALLACE: It's worse than that [...]. The social media companies are sort of like the worst stereotype of a Republican political organization. They're reactive, they’re opaque, they're defensive, they are very slow to understand the value of transparency. They're totally lawyered up, lobbied up. And they are as a culture, the hubris of thinking that they're all about the public good, when if you take a low-tech analogy, it’s basically like someone got mugged in your backyard and their position is: well, it's not our problem, I mean, we just bought the lot on which the house was built, not our problem.

Donny Deutsch chimed in his agreement with Wallace’s analysis, mainly to suggest that perhaps internet news sites and social media sites need government regulation to make sure that what they post or allow up is accurate:

DEUTSCH: [T]here’s a tremendous irony with these guys, because, the tech guys, these young-, are, are the ones who are revolutionizing the world for betterment, yet the irony is, if I wanna take an ad out on NBC or anyplace else for a laundry detergent, the things I have to go through-


WALLACE: [interrupting] It has to work, it has to be real, you have to be real. Right!


DEUTSCH: [continues talking over Wallace] -[...] to prove that it’s got 5% more blue crystals in it, yet there is no regulati[on]. There is nothing more important for us, for people watching this show over the next ten and twenty years as the regulation of these companies. They control the flow of communication. [...] [W]hat's happening here, as far as our power versus what's happening over here [points to his smart phone], multiply it a thousand-fold and there is no regulation.

Ah, so here we see one of the real reasons for wanting to regulate internet-based news content: it’s out-competing (supposedly) respectable news outlets like MSNBC!

After Deutsch floated the idea of government censorship to get the internet under control, Wallace decided to try her hand at stand-up comedy, declaring:

“One difference though is that we have quality controls, we have standards. [...] [A]nd they [internet/social media] should be held to the same standards.”

Well, if we all only had to adhere to MSNBC’s standard for truth, that would make our jobs here much easier!

But on a more serious note, Geist subsequently moved the segment forward to allow New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor to summarize her latest findings on “racially divisive Russian ads on Facebook.” Alcindor said:

Facebook admitted to members of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the subcommittee on the House Oversight Committee that there were ads that were targeting Black Lives Matter and targeting, specifically, ethnic groups [...] and allowing people to target, not only for Russian influence, but also target housing ads, employment ads.




[A] lot of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are fuming because they're saying that Russia actually exploited a lot of the racial divisions that already exist in America and used both Facebook and Twitter [...] in this way to essentially make people hate each other more.

So, Alcindor and the Congressional Black Caucus think that decades of the Democratic Party and the far left exploiting racial divisions for political gain was totally normal and fine, but now, they demand aggressive government action to stop it when it is being used by the Russians?

Without addressing this glaringly obvious point, the segment then moved in a much more interesting direction as Geist turned to Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary Magazine, for his opinion on the whole Russia matter. Although Rothman acceded to the larger narrative about Russians hacking the DNC and weaponizing social media, he did offer some true background to the current story:

First, you probably have to know that Russian intelligence is going to exploit anything they possibly can to do precisely what she was talking about. This isn't new, this is the Kremlin playbook. They have been exacerbating racial tensions in the United States since there [has been] a Russian intelligence organization. As recently as 2014, you had RT talking about police tyranny and an Afro-Maidan, referring to the Ukrainian revolution that ousted the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. This is what Russia does. So if you're a media institution and you know that Moscow is going to target your audience, you have to be proactive and aware of that. And, as you say, you have, you had gatekeepers in most institutions. Institutions that are not, you know, aware that they're going to be targeted are the most irresponsible, I would say. But I'm not sure that regulation is something that you can even entertain. This is about responsibility.

Rothman’s point about past Soviet infiltration of the United States was correct, if lacking somewhat in details. Rothman would have done well to point out, in contrast to his characterization of Russian government-owned or funded media, that they actually frequently take stances in support of left-wing causes if those causes serve to diminish America’s international moral authority, particularly as regards anti-war narratives or movements like Black Lives Matter.

It was also refreshing to see someone push back against Wallace and Deutsch’s calls for government censorship and control over the Internet, but that didn’t last. Mark Halperin ultimately decided to make the most straightforward case for the federal government to crack down on "Russian operatives" and fake news with the support of both Wallace and Deutsch:

HALPERIN: [T]here’s some interesting intellectual debates to be had around all this stuff to be sure. But these companies are American companies making a lot of money, dominating our lives, hiding behind a lot of intellectual arguments. And, as the Congressional members of both parties are saying publicly and privately, they are using lobbyists and PR executives and their own platforms to try to limit the disclosure that they make to be accountable. American democracy is under siege and they are hiding behind intellectual arguments.


[Deutsch tries to speak at same time as Wallace, then stops]


WALLACE: And it's ongoing. I mean, they were involved, some of these Russian-linked Twitter accounts were involved last weekend in helping to sow-


EDDIE GLAUDE JR.: [interjecting] Exactly.


GEIST: [mumbles agreement] Right.


WALLACE: -hatred around the debate about the NFL. This isn’t, we're not at a forensic stage where we're gonna look back at what they did in 2016, we're not even there yet. This is still-


HALPERIN: [interrupting] The bombs are still falling.




ROTHMAN: [tries to speak, hard to hear] Wait, to what extent is there even a recourse?


DEUTSCH: [interrupting] By the way, we can regulate, I’m gonna give you, we can regulate, we can regulate this. We start-, instead of the FCC, it’s the FDC. The Federal Digital Communications company. And there is a body, a governing body there, regulatory body, that when something like this happens, the, the economic consequence, the penalties in the hundreds of millions, you hit ‘em in the pocketbook, they'll figure it out.

There are a lot of amazing comments here, particularly from Halperin and Deutsch.

It’s not completely clear what Deutsch means by using a "FDC" "regulatory body" to financially cripple people (or who precisely those people/organizations would be, although based on his following comments it might be Facebook and Twitter that would suffer fines in his mind). However, Halperin’s characterization of protecting people’s right to freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment, as “hiding behind intellectual arguments” was most chilling.

Thankfully, Rothman stepped in to voice some cogent defense of arguably this country’s most important founding principle: “I suppose there's any number of ways in which the federal government could target an institution that is a media institution that provides a platform for the exercise of the First Amendment. What is the limiting principle there? At what point are we targeting speech that we simply don't like?”

After a brief pause and Deutsch simply interjecting “um,” Wallace tried her Ministry of Truth argument out again:

WALLACE: Well you can't yell [...] fire in a movie theater if it's not true. I mean-


ROTHMAN: [interrupting] You can if it's on fire.


WALLACE: Well, I think the point on Twitter is that some of these things are not true, and-


ROTHMAN: [interrupting] That’s, incitement to violence is one thing-


WALLACE: -Twitter, Twitter and Facebook have done nothing. I mean money,-


ROTHMAN: -and it’s extremely difficult to prove incitement to violence.


WALLACE: -mon-, money has a seal to, so that we know when a dollar is real, when a dollar is counterfeit. There are groups that are trying to get the social media companies to have some sort of water seal or to verify the content, the veracity of it.

It was fun to see Rothman trying, ever so subtly, to point out the basic problem with Wallace’s argument, namely: who determines what is and is not true?

But then Halperin, skirting by having to address Rothman’s concerns, decided to seal the deal and make his position extremely clear: “[T]he government shouldn't be the recourse at first, it should be the boards of these companies.” That is, if Facebook and Twitter don’t start censoring in the right way or to the right extent, then Big Brother should do it himself.

It’s nice to know that the media’s support for the free speech rights of NFL football players extends to all of us rubes too!

The panel closed out the lengthy segment by chuckling at the prospect of quick action to "figure out" this "problem" and never addressed the more fundamental question about whether or not what they were proposing was anathema to the U.S. Constitution, either in law or spirit.

We strongly suggest putting down all sharp objects before watching the following...


AlaricBalth overbet Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:30 Permalink

The MSM does not report news. They provide entertainment for their demographic base of couch riding spectators. Controversy, salaciousness and division increase the amount of eyeballs, which allow these channels of distraction to charge exorbitant fees to advertisers who are selling crap most don't need or want. It's all just "chewing gum" for the eyes.

In reply to by overbet

NvrGivUp Future Jim Sun, 10/01/2017 - 03:21 Permalink

The truth and alternatives to their bs party line narrative threaten their "fame," income, inflated egos and legitimacy, they must fight back at all costs for their survival, it will get much worse before better. They are becoming characters of a tragic novel, responsible for their own demise. MSM Viewership down, MSM Radio down, ratings are all decreasing, they must try to kill the competition through nefarious and ill conceived schemes, their desparation is showing as fewer and fewer buy the BS. The boycotting of their sponsors will be the final nail... Their days of erroneous priviledge are threatened, the weakest will jump ship at the first real threats of loss, more will self immolate through a lack of verbal discipline, and the final few will go down with their ships in shame, begging for forgiveness from the people they purposely defrauded as their broken paymasters cast them aside. Nothing works for long without integrity. This 50 year disengration of jouranlistic integrity is coming to an end.

In reply to by Future Jim

AtATrESICI AlaricBalth Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:37 Permalink

But, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia. OMG! What happened?

This shit is a sad fucking joke...

In reply to by AlaricBalth

knukles JohnG Sat, 09/30/2017 - 20:11 Permalink

Ummm  I don't think that social media shit's gonna hold much water at this juncture.In fact, I'd encourage y'all out there on the bat shit crazy do dog bandwagon to keep pushing shit like thisAnd I want to help you support Hildabeast for president in 2020See, more Leftist OpEd crap making it's way onto the news pages. 

In reply to by JohnG

Ink Pusher MagicHandPuppet Mon, 10/02/2017 - 11:34 Permalink

Post date AUG 29-  From ADWEEK "MSNBC continues to thrive ratings-wise in 2017. The network finished August 2017 No. 2 basic cable both in prime time and in total day viewers. The network posted +63 percent prime time viewer growth, +55 percent growth in the prime time demo, +54 percent growth in total day viewers, and +40 percent growth in the total day demo versus August 2016." http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/basic-cable-network-ranker-august-2017/3…

In reply to by MagicHandPuppet

greenskeeper carl knukles Sat, 09/30/2017 - 21:56 Permalink

The left has really outdone itself here, combining their two favorite things: MUH RUSSIANS and MUH RAYCIZM. They have found a way to make one made up crisis responsible for the other, as though regular people somehow need help from some allegedly Russian guy on twatter to dislike a bunch of rioting NAPA's going around burning and breaking shit.

In reply to by knukles

Lumberjack AtATrESICI Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:56 Permalink

Mass Psychogenic Illness.


Background and epidemiology: Mass sociogenic illness refers to the “rapid spread of illness signs and symptoms affecting members of a cohesive group, originating from a nervous system disturbance involving excitation, loss or alteration of function, whereby physical complaints that are exhibited unconsciously have no corresponding organic aetiology.”

In reply to by AtATrESICI

Paul Kersey AlaricBalth Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:41 Permalink

"This isn't new, this is the Kremlin playbook. They have been exacerbating racial tensions in the US [for years]... "

So it's the Russians that have caused racial tensions in the U.S., who knew? Racial voting patterns in this country are almost the same today as they were before the Civil War. In any Presidential election, for instance, 95% of blacks vote Democrat, regardless of who is running, and over 80% of Christian Fundamentalists vote Republican, regardless of who is running.

During this last Presidential election, if you flipped the State of Virginia with the State of Pennsylvania, the election turned on the Mason-Dixon line. Unless the Russians can be blamed for the racism this nation was born into, it's probably absurd to blame today's racial tensions on them.

In reply to by AlaricBalth

SDShack AlaricBalth Sun, 10/01/2017 - 13:09 Permalink

The problem with the lamestream media is that they do the bidding of their globalist masters, and are nothing more then the mouthpiece of the libtard left...but they try to "sell" themselves as the protectors and purveyors of truth and objectivity. This big lie is being exposed more and more to the sheeple, and is why the lamestream media has earned the moniker "Fake News". But like true Goebbels propogandists, they can't admit their mistake because that would mean they have to admit their bias. But in their twisted mind, they are not biased, so they double down on their stupidity, which just leads to more and more people realizing their bias, which drives more and more viewers away.Their business model is failing, but since their business model has evolved to simply being the mouthpiece of rich globalists, the rich globalists just see the expense as "advertising" for their globalist NWO. So today's lamestream media isn't a profit center anymore for the globalists, but is merely an advertising expense. This will continue until the people refuse to buy the "globalist" product. So the way to combat this is to keep exposing the lamestream media as the main tool of the globalists whose only goal is to transfer wealth, and by extension... freedom, from the masses to the elite. This is the only winning argument against the globalists.

In reply to by AlaricBalth

Crazy Or Not Giant Meteor Sun, 10/01/2017 - 04:28 Permalink

In Barcelona Today (Sunday am) Social Media has been a critical tool for self organisation of citizens taking part in the Catalan Independence vote.UPDATE: 10:30hrs local timeSo far in the area we have been things have been peaceful. People have camped out all night....Mosos (local police) have been present, but totally outnumbered/blocked by citizens & therefore not interfered in the Voting process.In areas where Guardia Civil have been present in numbers they have gone in with force and there has been some injuries.In some situations they have been driven back by a greater number of citizens and in others with assistance from local Firemen. In some areas they have shut down voting in others it has continued.Tractors and construction gear, big trucks etc are being used to block streets to military/police vehicles.There have also been attempts by plain clothes Guardia to sneak in posing as locals and trying to run out with ballot boxes, this has largely been stopped by linked arms citizens and some "WWF" by the brave. General Strike is announced for Tuesday and more is planned for later in the days week(s) ahead....People want to be recognised as having a role in their own governance, so far No is not an acceptable answer.

In reply to by Giant Meteor

Crazy Or Not Giant Meteor Sun, 10/01/2017 - 10:19 Permalink

UPDATE 16:00 local:Still another 4 hours to go on the voting. In some of the high density population areas the Guardia Civil have gone in heavy, there's been broken jaws, beaten faces, collar bones, wrists, fingers and baton welts across ribs/backs/shins etc regardless of age or gender. Whilst we've got used to this type of police brutality over G20 demonstrations or when people have gone out to demonstrate with police....This has been people of all ages, many with very responsible jobs who never thought to demonstrate or confront anything....they only wanted to vote. .... in a European Democracy!Thousands of images coming in on Twitter, intagram, imgur #independencia#1Octobre#Catalunyaetc etchttps://twitter.com/catalanthings?lang=en

In reply to by Giant Meteor

Skeero Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:04 Permalink

"Black Lives Matter and targeting, specifically, ethnic groups [...] and allowing people to target, not only for Russian influence, but also target housing ads, employment ads." Shame on them for trying to get people to get a job!

Blankone Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:07 Permalink

How long until they declare antifa is a Russian sponsored terrorist org.?
I know it is not time yet but once the violence of antifa generates general rejection by the middle class due to fear - perhaps then they will throw them under the bus. And use antifa as justification for oppressive policies/laws.

UselessEater blue51 Sun, 10/01/2017 - 10:35 Permalink

It is insane the level of censorship for eg:American Free Press (they have a great newspaper and are also under heavy Stasi type attack!). Their courage in the face of some disgracefully sneaky censorship attacks is to be lauded. Without warning they’ve experienced:

  • Business PayPal accounts blocked & account funds frozen for an unspecified period (theft!) to create severe business disruption e.g. paying wages, utilities, small business suppliers.
  • Booted from internet search engines like Google (virtually a global tax free monopoly)
  • Banned by Amazon – (anti-competition, thinks globally & destroys locally, pro-corporate welfare funded by middle-class taxes).
  • Bullied by so-called NGO’s funded by George Soros, Pizza Podesta, H R Clinton and a couple of other big league billionaires,
  • Banned from advertising in every single media outlet (print and digital).

In reply to by blue51

any_mouse Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:12 Permalink

The Russians?

How about Jew Social Reformers.

Divide the Middle class and the Lower class for the benefit of the Upper class.

The essence of Marxism.

Honest John Sat, 09/30/2017 - 19:15 Permalink

The russians must be incredibly brilliant.  With a mere $100,000 in social media investing, they turned the US on its butt.  Wish our people were that smart.  And now the US will spend billions trying to figure out what they did (or didn't really) do.  It's a flip flop of what Reagan did.  They will bankrupt the US with endless investigations that prove absolutely nothing.

Anon2017 Honest John Sat, 09/30/2017 - 20:11 Permalink

As I recall, it would have taken Hillary a total of only 70,000 more votes in Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania to become president. Too bad for her that many of the blacks who turned out for Obama in 2008 and 2012 stayed home in 2016 when it was Hillary's turn, but you can't blame the Russians for that.

In reply to by Honest John