Reporters hit Biden for walking back Facebook 'killing people' comment: 'Not the administration's finest hour'
Media top headlines July 19
The White House getting blasted for supporting Big Tech ‘collusion’ on banning COVID ‘misinformation’ spreaders, a reporter’s candid assessment of progressives on Cuba, and President Biden getting roasted on MSNBC round out today’s media headlines.
Multiple reporters and pundits hit President Biden for walking back his comments that Facebook is “killing people” with COVID-19 misinformation, noting he had admittedly spread misinformation himself.
“They’re killing people,” Biden said of Facebook in response to a reporter’s question on Friday. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”
Asked to clarify those controversial comments on Monday, Biden narrowed down his targets to a dozen spreaders of what the government has deemed harmful misinformation about the coronavirus and the vaccines against it.
“Facebook pointed out that most of the disinformation came from 12 individuals,” Biden said. “I was asked, what is happening … “Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are killing people. My hope is that they would do something about misinformation — outrageous misinformation about vaccines.”
The Verge reporter Alex Heath responded to Biden’s clarification, quipping, “you shouldn’t take me calling you a murderer personally.”
“Not the administration’s finest hour,” agreed NBC’s Dylan Byers.
A few others, like The Atlantic’s David A. Graham and conservative CNN commentator Scott Jennings, wondered if the White House was guilty of the kind of “misinformation” the administration mentioned on Friday.
“So was the previous statement…misinformation?” Graham asked.
“Walkback on aisle 1600,” said The National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar.
Facebook released a defensive statement following Biden’s initial accusation, arguing that their platform “is helping save lives.”
“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” Facebook said. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”
The White House recently unveiled their partnership with Big Tech companies to crack down on so-called coronavirus “misinformation,” with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying the administration is “making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives.” Critics said the effort would do little more than hinder free speech and pointed out Facebook’s checkered history on identifying misinformation, such as when it flagged posts about the coronavirus lab-leak theory.
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