After all three broadcast networks on Monday promoted the liberal excuse that Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race because of “fake news” shared on Facebook, on Wednesday, NBC’s Today continued to push the narrative by highlighting a “feud” within the social media company and parroting Clinton Campaign talking points blaming the social network for Donald Trump’s victory.
At the top of the 7:30 ET half hour, co-host Matt Lauer declared: “...growing controversy over whether or not to police fake news stories on social media platforms like Facebook. In the aftermath of the election, employees there are now reportedly taking on CEO Mark Zuckerberg over this very issue.”
Correspondent Miguel Almaguer warned: “The headlines are as shocking as they are fake: ‘ISIS King Paid off Hillary Clinton,’ ‘Pope Francis endorses Trump.’ Now growing concern these fake stories may have had real influence on voters.” He touted how Buzzfeed “is reporting the existence of a secret ‘renegade task force’ of Facebook employees” who “believe the company is only paying lip service to the problem.”
Almaguer then forwarded Democratic complaints:
Hillary Clinton's campaign is lashing out against the site. Her chief digital strategist, Teddy Goff, telling Politico they blame Facebook for enabling “the spread of misinformation,” saying they “saw zero percent chance Facebook was going to be compliant or work with us during the election.”
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Goff further whined to Politico: “We spend all day, every day on these platforms that encourage us to get pissed off, to piss off each other, to share information that's alarming. So you have rising despair and also a rising sense of helplessness, and that combination is extremely toxic, and contributes in a huge way to this 'throw the bums out' mentality.”
Reporter Nancy Scola explained:
Critics on the left say false headlines on Facebook harmed Hillary Clinton and helped swing the election to Donald Trump....Goff, who also served as digital director for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, said fake news on Facebook painting Clinton as corrupt, criminal or otherwise beyond the political pale did have an impact — and he said Democrats, even before the election was over, started looking at how to address it.
The only voices of dissent in the NBC segment came from Zuckerberg, who dismissed the influence of fake news stories, and USC digital social media professor Karen North, who cautioned: “You don't want to move down the slippery slope of deciding what's false versus what's an opinion versus what is sarcasm versus what is parody.”
To that point, on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times highlighted a list of supposed "fake news" sources that included several legitimate conservative news websites.
Here is a full transcript of the November 16 report:
7:31 AM ET
MATT LAUER: Let us begin this half hour, though, with a growing controversy over whether or not to police fake news stories on social media platforms like Facebook. In the aftermath of the election, employees there are now reportedly taking on CEO Mark Zuckerberg over this very issue. NBC national correspondent Miguel Alamaguer is at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California with more on that. Miguel, good morning to you.
MIGUEL ALMAGUER: Hey, Matt, good morning. It's believed more than 60% of Americans get their news from social media websites and Facebook is the world's most powerful social media platform. But now, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly under fire within the company for not doing enough to take fake news stories off the site.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Facebook’s “Fake News” Feud?; Employees Break With Zuckerberg, Start Secret “Task Force”]
The headlines are as shocking as they are fake: “ISIS King Paid off Hillary Clinton,” “Pope Francis endorses Trump.” Now growing concern these fake stories may have had real influence on voters. Google announced it's taking steps to ban fake news stories from its site. The company telling the BBC –
SUNDAR PICHAI [CEO OF GOOGLE]: From our perspective, there should just be no situation in which fake news gets distributed.
ALMAGUER: Facebook clarified it already prohibits ads, saying, “Our team will continue to closely vet all perspective publishers and monitor existing ones.” But just days ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he didn't want the company to become the arbiter of truth and downplayed the influence of fake news.
MARK ZUCKERBERG: The idea that, you know, fake news on Facebook – of which it’s a very small amount of the content – influenced the election in any way, I think is a pretty crazy idea.
SHEERA FRENKEL [BUZZFEED CYBERSECURITY REPORTER]: There's a lot of skepticism among Facebook employees that the top, sort of, echelons in the company are taking this seriously.
ALMAGUER: Now, Buzzfeed, partially owned by our parent company, NBCUniversal, is reporting the existence of a secret “renegade task force” of Facebook employees. Buzzfeed spoke to five of them. They believe the company is only paying lip service to the problem.
FRENKEL: When you mark something for nudity or for violence and it's taken down almost immediately, Facebook hasn't applied that same sort of rigorous standard to fake news.
ALMAGUER: While Facebook had no comment about the existence of a task force, Hillary Clinton's campaign is lashing out against the site. Her chief digital strategist, Teddy Goff, telling Politico they blame Facebook for enabling “the spread of misinformation,” saying they “saw zero percent chance Facebook was going to be compliant or work with us during the election.”
There were fake news stories against Trump as well. Asked for comment, his campaign did not respond.
KAREN NORTH [PROFESSOR OF DIGITAL SOCIAL MEDIA AT USC]: You don't want to move down the slippery slope of deciding what's false versus what's an opinion versus what is sarcasm versus what is parody.
ALMAGUER: Buzzfeed says its sources inside Facebook have not told them how they're going to get rid of those fake news headlines. Meantime, websites like Twitter and Google are also dealing with similar problems. Matt and Savannah, back to you guys.
LAUER: Alright, Miguel, thank you very much.