Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s team isn’t terribly thrilled about a new ad being run by President Donald Trump’s campaign. The Biden campaign got CNN to refuse to run it, though that’s hardly a stunner.
Somewhat more surprising, however, was that Facebook wasn’t willing to ban it — even after the media branded it as peddling a “false” narrative and the former vice president’s campaign tried to get it removed.
The ad states that “Biden promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company” and then launches into the now-infamous clip of Biden saying that “if the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a b—-, he got fired.”
Whether or not you believe the ad’s claim depends on whether you believe the ad argues that Biden pressured the Ukrainians to fire the prosecutor involved in the Burisma investigation because of that investigation.
That can’t be proven; the language is implicit. So it’s impossible to tell — and that may be the point. This kind of fuzzy language has been a staple of electioneering since Marc Anthony swore to the Romans that he was only coming to bury Caesar and not to praise him.
But from the conniption fit the media has fallen into, you would have thought the Trump campaign had invented this kind of brazenness.
“No evidence has surfaced that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son Hunter Biden by pushing for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin,” The New York Times claimed in its coverage of the ad.
“Members of the Obama administration, as well as other international leaders, had sought Mr. Shokin’s removal amid accusations that he ignored corruption claims.”
A Vox article was even more blunt, calling out the ad’s “false claims” and referring to the “false conspiracy at the center of the impeachment inquiry.”
Let’s look beyond whether or not the ad directly linked Shokin’s firing — and the fact that Biden bragged about initiating it — to Shokin’s investigation of Burisma, the company on whose board Hunter Biden served. The ad raised other significant questions, like the appearance of a conflict of interest and why Hunter Biden even worked with Burisma in the first place.
The Biden campaign wasn’t willing to answer those questions, instead just calling for the ad to be banned from Facebook. The tech giant was having none of that.
In a letter obtained by CNN, Facebook said its decision not to ban the ad was “grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is.”
Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo said that “objectively false information to influence public opinion poisons the public discourse and chips away at our democracy” and went on to cite the usual Trump/Russia innuendoes.
“Whether it originates from the Kremlin or Trump Tower, these lies and conspiracy theories threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections in America,” Ducklo said. “It is unacceptable for any social media company to knowingly allow deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform.”
While Facebook decided against banning the ad, CNN barred the Trump campaign from buying network airtime for it.
“Specifically, in addition to disparaging CNN and its journalists, the ad makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets, including CNN,” the network said in a statement, according to Breitbart.
Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh argued that the network was “spend[ing] all day protecting Joe Biden in their programming.”
“It’s not surprising that they’re shielding him from truthful advertising too, and then talking to other media outlets about it,” Murtaugh said.
“Our ad is entirely accurate and was reviewed by counsel, and CNN wouldn’t even describe to us what they found objectionable. This isn’t a cable news channel anymore, it’s a Democrat public relations firm.”
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