What do you do when you get banned from places such as Twitter and Instagram because you say dangerous, hateful and flat-out wrong junk?
You start your own platform for your irresponsible and abhorrent rhetoric.
Or in this case, you take over such a platform.
Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, is planning to buy Parler — the social media app that has become home for conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists and many other nontraditional conservatives.
Ye said in a statement, “In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves.”
Also in a statement, Parler said, “The proposed acquisition will assure Parler a future role in creating an uncancelable ecosystem where all voices are welcome.”
Apparently even those with antisemitic views, which Ye recently expressed. Among them, a tweet that said he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” Besides expressing those disgusting remarks, Ye also claimed that George Floyd, the man murdered by police in Minneapolis in 2020, might have died from fentanyl. (Floyd’s family is considering a lawsuit against Ye.)
His remarks got him banned from Twitter and Instagram.
CNN’s Brian Fung wrote, “Buying Parler could make West the latest celebrity owner of a social media platform after former President Donald Trump’s bid to win over conservatives with Truth Social and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s proposed acquisition of Twitter. It also highlights how a small group of wealthy men, some of whom were banned or suspended themselves for incendiary remarks, are looking to own social media platforms in an effort to bolster what they call ‘free speech.’”
Parler was founded in 2018 and became more well known, although not necessarily that popular, following the 2020 presidential election when conspiracy theorists wrongly claimed that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. Fung wrote that, according to data, Parler’s daily user count peaked after the election, with an estimated 2.9 million daily users. Since then, Parler’s popularity has seriously waned — it now has a daily user count of about 40,000. (Twitter, by comparison, has about 237 million daily users.)
But that doesn’t make it less dangerous. As NPR’s Bobby Allyn wrote, “Parler has been a hotbed of vaccine misinformation, bigotry and right-wing conspiracies — content that usually does not expressly violate Parler’s guidelines.”
According to CNN’s Oliver Darcy, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem said on air Monday, “No one goes there for a dialogue on conservative ideas. They go there to find equally minded hate.”
Darcy wrote in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter, “… the platform once celebrated by right-wing figures as the future of ‘free speech’ online has quietly devolved into a social media graveyard haunted by extremists and very few others, including Kanye himself.”
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Parler was removed from the Apple app store and Google Play store because it failed to monitor violent rhetoric. After changes to its content moderation practices, Parler is back on both app stores.
There are no details on how much Ye is paying in the deal, which Parler hopes can be wrapped up later this year. Parler is owned by Parlement Technologies, whose CEO is George Farmer, husband of controversial conservative commentator Candace Owens. Fung reports that Parlement Technologies would remain involved by providing technical services and cloud support.
Oh, and this interesting tidbit from Fung: “Musk’s move to buy Twitter, if the deal goes through, also has the potential to upend Parler and similar services. Musk has repeatedly called for eliminating permanent bans and rethinking Twitter’s approach to content moderation, which could once again make the much larger platform a home for some of the users who jumped to small services like Parler.”
Finally on this item, I leave you with this tweet from podcaster and journalist Kara Swisher: “All kidding aside, as troubled as he clearly is, Kanye West is a stone cold anti-Semite. More of him is not better and this deal is a loser, definitely as a business. Same with Trump, and Truth Social will be in the dustbin of history too.”
A couple of Washington Post columns that I wanted to note in today’s newsletter. First up, Perry Bacon Jr. with “America should spend billions to revive local news.”
Bacon writes, “My vision for addressing the huge decline in local journalism involves hiring 87,000 new journalists for about 1,300 news organizations with more than $10 billion in funding. Such a massive investment in local news isn’t going to happen next week and probably not next year, either. But it is also not a pipe dream.”
Bacon notes, “Ten billion isn’t much money for the United States to spend on something the nation defines as a crisis.”
Bacon goes into great detail on how the money could be spent and concludes with, “All of the crises of the United States in 2022 — the decline of newspapers, the deep racial tensions in many cities, the nation’s growing partisan polarization — show the need to create a new and improved version of local news. Let’s do it.”
The other column …
The other Post column I wanted to note was Jennifer Rubin with “SNL has better coverage of Herschel Walker than the mainstream media.”
Rubin writes that you can “get a more exact picture of the election” by watching NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” than you can by following the mainstream media. She points specifically to coverage of Georgia Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker and his debate with Sen. Raphael Warnock. Rubin writes, “Mainstream media ‘takeaways’ mostly portrayed the event as clashes on abortion, inflation, President Biden and Medicaid. Walker beat expectations, some reported. He helped himself!”
Rubin claimed many reports aren’t calling out Walker’s obvious flaws, such as the inability to put together even simple sentences or full thoughts. Rubin writes, “That is a factual observation, yet reporters shy from conveying such information for fear of seeming biased. The result: They failed to inform voters that Walker is truly unqualified for the position.”
To find such information, Rubin claims, you need to turn to the opinion section.
I would argue that those who covered the debate — particularly those inside the state who have a finger on the pulse of Georgia politics — accurately portrayed how Walker did in the debate and how voters may or may not react to him. It might be difficult to understand how Walker is resonating with reasonable voters, but polls show he clearly is. Most have Warnock with an edge over Walker, but it’s close.
I would also argue that “mainstream media” has accurately portrayed Walker, including the interview Walker did with NBC News’ Kristen Welker that appeared on Monday’s “Today” show. Welker grilled Walker on whether or not he paid for a former girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 and claims that he is a police officer, including carrying around a badge that is actually an honorary badge.
Plenty of news outlets, even if it is in the opinion sections, have called out Walker.
Rubin says that this issue goes beyond just Walker, writing, “The mainstream media may not intend to help the GOP with their lack of candor or their refusal to force Republicans to contend with the crazy statements from their fellow party members. But that is precisely what their coverage accomplishes. Because they are unable to call out candidates as bonkers or unintelligible, they make Republicans more acceptable to voters. That’s a disservice to our democracy.”
The midterm elections
We’re only now three weeks away from the 2022 midterm elections and the latest story getting buzz is Shane Goldmacher’s piece for The New York Times: “Republicans Gain Edge as Voters Worry About Economy, Times/Siena Poll Finds.”
Goldmacher writes, “The poll shows that 49 percent of likely voters said they planned to vote for a Republican to represent them in Congress on Nov. 8, compared with 45 percent who planned to vote for a Democrat. The result represents an improvement for Republicans since September, when Democrats held a one-point edge among likely voters in the last Times/Siena poll.”
Some readers roll their eyes at horse race coverage of elections, particularly after many polls so badly missed in 2016. But I do believe they offer a valuable look at where Americans stand, particularly on important issues, and how independents might vote.
For example, Goldmacher writes, “Both Democrats and Republicans have largely coalesced behind their own party’s congressional candidates. But the poll showed that Republicans opened up a 10-percentage point lead among crucial independent voters, compared with a three-point edge for Democrats in September, as undecided voters moved toward Republicans.”
And there was this from Goldmacher: “The survey showed that the economy remained a far more potent political issue in 2022 than abortion.”
Film of the day
The use of film is making a comeback. “NBC Nightly News” did a story about it. And, check it out, they shot it … on film. The result was really cool.
Video of the day
Here’s a video of a Spectrum 1 meteorologist, who covers the weather in western New York, stopping her forecast to celebrate the Buffalo Bills beating the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Christina Reis tweeted, “This is why I shouldn’t be allowed to work during Bills games.”
I’m guessing most Bills fans watching TV at that time were already watching the game and not Spectrum News 1, but Reis’ reaction was nonetheless fun.
- Tonight (10 p.m. Eastern) on PBS’s “Frontline,” in association with The Associated Press: “Michael Flynn’s Holy War.” (Here’s the trailer.)
- In an adaptation from her new memoir, former Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan with “But her emails! Behind The New York Times’ maddening Hillary Clinton coverage.”
- The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern with “John Oliver Debunks the Right’s Weirdest Anti-Trans Conspiracy Yet.”
- Variety’s Brian Steinberg with “Fox Business Chief Plans New Financial Panel Show.”
- The New York Times’ Cecilia Kang and Tiffany Hsu with “The Rise of a Conservative Radio Juggernaut.”
- New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand reports that NBA analyst Charles Barkley, who is (in my opinion) the best analyst in all of sports, just signed a whopper of a deal. Marchand says it is a 10-year deal worth “well north of nine figures.” It certainly ends the rumors that Barkley was considering retirement.
- Speaking of Barkley, the NBA regular season opens tonight with two games on TNT. The 76ers visit the Celtics and the defending-champion Warriors host the Lakers.
The Washington Post’s Lizzie Johnson with “Profit, pain and puppies: Inside the rescue of nearly 4,000 beagles.”
For Esquire, Chris Heath writes about the foiled 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in “The Militiamen, the Governor, and the Kidnapping That Wasn’t.”
For New York Times Magazine, Robert Draper with “The Problem of Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at email@example.com.
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