This just in…Donald Trump still banned by Facebook!
This was such a monumental move, so crucial to the fate of western civilization, that Politico had no fewer than four advance stories at the top of its home page:
“The Facebook Ban Hurt Trump in Surprising Ways.”
“If Facebook Takes Trump Back Today, Will Twitter?”
“Why Trump’s New Blog Could Lead to More Social Media Takedowns.”
“‘It Really Fs the other 24 Wannabes’–How Facebook Could Give Trump a Huge Boost.”
It’s become a common refrain that the maestro of Mar-a-Lago is fading as a media presence in the Biden era. And what’s happened this week has dramatically demonstrated that’s not true.
Sure, his online interactions are down because he’s barred from social media (and no, the one-way blog he just launched is not his social media comeback).
But he is at the heart of so much coverage. The huge media controversy over whether Liz Cheney will be booted from her House leadership post is of course a Trump story, since they are battling over his unproven claims of election fraud in 2020. And the former president, who yesterday backed Rep. Elise Stefanek as her successor, keeps stoking the flames, saying “Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership.” The Wyoming congresswoman invariably punches back, and that keeps generating new headlines. Trump is again being attacked on CNN and MSNBC around the clock.
Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump followed the Capitol riot, which of course prompted the ban by Mark Zuckerberg’s company on grounds that the president was inciting violence.
Yesterday’s decision by the Facebook oversight board of global luminaries also highlighted the global interest in Trump and his ongoing war with Big Tech.
Trump of course responded, with the relative snail mail of a press release, saying: “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway.”
One small detail is that he’s no longer POTUS. I’ve long argued that while a temporary ban might have been justified by the violence and ongoing threats in the aftermath of Jan. 6, there was no way to defend an indefinite ban against someone who has left office.
And that’s where the board was critical of Facebook, saying it failed to follow its own rules in issuing this “arbitrary penalty.” So the group, which was under enormous pressure, punted back to Facebook, saying it must decide within six months how the rules would change for everyone if it wants to keep Trump permanently disbarred.
I’d say the chances of the left-leaning site allowing Trump back on next fall are close to nonexistent. Which means this is not really about fomenting violence but punishing someone that Silicon Valley views as evil. Twitter isn’t even going through the motions of reviewing its ban.
Some Republicans are now determined to retaliate against Facebook, and such liberal Democrats as Elizabeth Warren want to break up the Zuckerberg empire. But these companies, which are big-time donors, still have plenty of political clout.
As for the media’s Trumpian hunger, look at it this way: Joe Biden is the dutiful parent. He gives bland speeches about the need to get vaccinated and why we should spend trillions to help the economy and the middle class. His tweets look like they’re written by committee. Rhetorically, at least, he doesn’t pick fights and tries to ignore the former guy.
Donald Trump is the fun parent. Freed from the responsibilities of governing, he fires off ALL-CAPS INSULTS, regularly insisting the election was stolen. He attacks not just Biden but Republicans, not just Cheney but Mitch McConnell, providing the kind of fodder the media love.
Regaining the Facebook megaphone would have helped, but it’s not clear he really needs it.