Say what you will about Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy, the man has a way with words.
Kennedy weighed in on the President Donald Trump Twitter controversy Tuesday by telling Fox News that far-left Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib are “left-wing cranks and they’re the reason that there are directions on a shampoo bottle.”
I mention this not because it’s funny (although it is), but because it was only the second most quotable thing that Kennedy said on Tuesday.
That same day, Kennedy, along with other members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, questioned David Marcus — the Facebook executive in charge of Libra, the company’s proposed cryptocurrency — about the company’s plan to create a new digital currency.
Given the fact that Facebook is a tech giant and controls much of the social media landscape, the fact that they’re proposing to release their own currency has drawn the attention of the government.
Sen. Kennedy, in particular, was drawn to how the company had handled the news media.
“We agree on this, that Facebook has now become the major news source for many, many people, probably the major news source,” Kennedy said to Marcus. “Is that true?”
Marcus gave the kind of bland response you might expect: “I don’t believe it is, senator. I believe that more and more people are interacting with other people,” he said.
“Well, 60 percent of your users say they get their news off Facebook as their primary source,” Kennedy replied.
And then — well, all I have to say is that I hope that C-SPAN had the censors on standby. I know it’s unusual to break out the bleeps during a Senate hearing, but Kennedy was in fine form.
“Isn’t it true, I really want your opinion, that Facebook has chosen to advance a set of values in which truthful reporting has been displaced by, uh, flagrant displays of bulls—?” Kennedy said.
WARNING: The following video contains language that some viewers may find offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.
Marcus was left nearly speechless — and certainly didn’t have many thoughts to expound upon.
“I don’t know how to answer that question, sir,” Marcus said amid a rumbling of laughter.
I know it’s frequently called a conspiracy theory, but there’s little doubt that Facebook has engaged in the suppression of conservative content.
Earlier this year, Facebook also censored a picture of an unborn baby in a pro-life advertisement, saying that it was “graphic” or “violent” imagery and adding a warning over the advertisement that said, “This photo may be sensitive to some people.”
Meanwhile, I still see plenty of NowThis videos on my newsfeed. I’m not saying that’s bias, I’m just saying there’s no accounting for taste in this world. There’s also not a whole lot of talk about NowThis videos being censored for spurious hate-speech claims.
Does this all count as “flagrant displays of bull s—”? I’m not quite sure precisely what Kennedy was talking about, but the fact is that Facebook has handled journalistic controversies and algorithm changes with all of the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. Now they’re looking to start a cryptocurrency.
However, it looks like the era of escaping Congress’ attention is gone. Kennedy was far from the only one attacking the company over its practices at the hearing.
Take the words of Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat: “We’d be crazy to give them a chance to let them experiment with people’s bank accounts.”
Or take those of Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican: “I don’t trust you guys,” she said. “Instead of cleaning up your house you are launching into a new business model.”
And if they’re not going to clean up their house, it looks like Congress is going to do it for them. Hopefully with a few more pithy quotes from Sen. Kennedy.
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