Radical Rashad Robinson of the group "Color for Change" joined CNN Newsroom host Brianna Keilar on Wednesday to accuse Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of allowing President Trump to use Facebook to engage in voter suppression. Robinson's proof, which Keilar was all too happy to agree with, was that Zuckerberg refused to take Robinson's advice on how he should run his company.
After Keilar asked about him about Facebook's decision not to remove "Trump's inflammatory posts" about looters, Robinson condemned Zuckerberg's rationale. "Zuckerberg kind of gave this answer that, in some ways did not land for us at all, because he was sort of speaking to this idea that President Trump is the, as a person who controls the sort of military, that maybe he was making a demand from the state."
Robinson then shifted to other problems he had with Zuckerberg: "We were also in that same meeting talked about the ways in which President Trump is sort of pushing voter suppression by spreading lies about vote by mail."
Apparently disagreeing with Robinson was tantamount to lying, which was tantamount to voter suppression.
Robinson then argued that somehow Facebook should be a public utility: "No single person should control a platform that has 2.3 billion users, more followers than Christianity, without any rules or regulation. Sixty percent of the shares can make unilateral decision. It's why private people shouldn't own public squares in our country, and be able to make these unilateral decisions."
But Robinson is the one who wants to make the unilateral decisions, and is unhappy when Trump or anyone disagreeing with him gets to speak freely. This is the same man and group that worked to take Glenn Beck off Fox, for example, and forced Pat Buchanan off MSNBC. They want Trump removed from Twitter.
Robinson then condemned left-leaning Zuckerberg for not caring enough about racial issues: "I was surprised at a platform this large and this powerful, in this day in age, could have no one with civil rights expertise, racial justice expertise in their leadership. I spoke at their shareholders meeting last week and pushed for more civil rights and racial justice expertise, human rights expertise on their board."
By "more expertise," he means "more agreement with me" about canceling his opponents.
Keilar then asked Robinson to give an example of him explaining voter suppression to Zuckerberg. Instead of providing an example, Robinson just reiterated his earlier point: "Well, we really had to try to walk him through how voter suppression operates. You know, he's giving an exception, an exemption to Donald Trump to suppress the vote. It's sort of like a political exemption" and that Zuckerberg is allowing "politicians to lie about voting and lie about the census online."
After some more talk about how Zuckerberg is destroying democracy, Robinson concluded by praising Twitter, for doing what Facebook refuses to do even though they're "[n]ot enough, in our opinion, at all."
Here is the relevant transcript:
June 3, 2020
1:32 PM ET
BRIANNA KEILAR: I want to ask you, Rashad, about a meeting that you and other civil rights leaders had with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his decision to leave President Trump's inflammatory posts about the shootings, the looting starts, the shooting starts, for instance, leaving those up on Facebook. Tell us what he said in this call a what you thought about what he said.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Yeah, it was a video call with him and some of his staff. This is not the first time we've met with him. In fact, some of the policies that we are demanding that he enforces are policies that we fought to put up, fought for them to actually implement in the first place. You know, Mark Zuckerberg kind of gave this answer that, in some ways, did not land for us at all, because he was sort of speaking to this idea that President Trump is the, as a person who controls the sort of military, that maybe he was making a demand from the state. We were also in that same meeting talked about the ways in which President Trump is sort of pushing voter suppression by spreading lies about vote by mail.
As we pushed Mark Zuckerberg, it remained very clear that this is just a person who may be good intentioned, but no single person should control a platform that has 2.3 billion users, more followers than Christianity, without any rules or regulation. 60 percent of the shares can make unilateral decision. It's why private people shouldn't own public squares in our country and be able to make these unilateral decisions.
As I sat on the meeting and looked at the faces of Facebook leadership that was looking back at me, I was surprised at a platform this large and this powerful, in this day in age, could have no one with civil rights expertise, racial justice expertise in their leadership. I spoke at their shareholders meeting last week and pushed for more civil rights and racial justice expertise, human rights expertise on their board. And of course, because Mark Zuckerberg was against that proposal, it doesn't even matter what the other shareholders believe because, once again, he owns 60 percent of the shares as chairman and CEO. This is the problem with consolidated corporate power in this country. And it does deep damage to all of us when he can just sort of decide whether or not he thinks that something's a problem.
KEILAR: You've said that you had to explain things to him or that you and others had to explain things to him when it came to things about race. I think these were things that you communicated you thought he would already have a grasp of. What kind -- like, give us an example. What did you have to explain to him?
ROBINSON: Well, we really had to try to walk him through how voter suppression operates. You know, he's giving an exception, an exemption to Donald Trump to suppress the vote. It's sort of like a political exemption. He may say that he's not, but in practice, he actually is and we had to sort of help him understand that voter suppression is not just something that is about whether or not you like Trump or not, right? When you open up the sort of avenues for politicians to lie about voting and lie about the census online, you're not just opening it up to whether or not people are debating back and forth about what the President says on Twitter, which we may be able to push back on, on your platform and others, but it's about that sort of local sheriff in a town that may be targeting immigrants. It may be the local city council person that tells people that, don't show up to the polls if you think you owe back taxes because we'll arrest you. All the ways in which we have seen for literally generations, since we've gotten the franchise in this country, that powerful forces have sought to suppress the vote. He simply did not have a grasp on it. You know, to be clear, I probably don't have a deep grasp on the intricacies of a back end of a -- of a --- of Facebook's platform. I probably -- I definitely couldn't help you with the coding and that is why when people are in leadership, they need people in positions that can actually help --
KEILAR: Wait, I have a question, though. Do you think understanding sort of basic history about how voter suppression has been carried out is as difficult to a non-coder as understanding coding?
ROBINSON: -- I think that it shouldn't be, but as a person who continues to have to show up to these meetings, continues to engage, continues to push, I also want to say that we are also seeing an uprising of Facebook employees who are speaking out on Twitter on Facebook --
ROBINSON: -- themselves, who are outraged. We're not just on the outside pushing, but we are seeing folks on the inside. And I want to say to the Facebook employees that are pushing up and standing up for our democracy, that we see you and we appreciate you, because part of how change happens is not just on the outside, but folks on the inside pushing and fighting and demanding for change. Right now, we only have so many levers, because the rules of the road for big social media platforms were written before there were big social media platforms and so, we've dealt with this sort of interesting thing where, sometimes, Facebook has argued that they're a media platform, like you all. And then when the rules of media platforms have to apply them, they go to Capitol Hill and say, you know what? We're not a media platform and so, being able to have it all different ways means that they can keep moving the ball on what's acceptable or not acceptable on their platform. There are probably people who are watching right now who have had their content taken down or flagged, but the most powerful person, you know, in the world, can get on the platform, attack, target, harass folks, can --- can -- but also use the power to actually create problems in our democracy by -- by telling lies about voting, which could actually suppress the vote and have real harm.
ROBINSON: Those are things that Facebook has to make a decision about. Twitter has made some good steps. Not enough, in our opinion, at all, but actually, he’s, Mark Zuckerberg's on the record now, criticizing Twitter for the steps that they took. There’s a lot that has to change. Facebook has such a huge platform, such a huge reach, 2.3 billion users, and we need to make sure that this platform operates by some set of rules.
KEILAR: No, it is. I mean, it is -- the reach is extraordinary.