All Americans have the right to speak freely, not just supporters of one political party or another, President Donald Trump told social media platforms at a White House “summit” featuring mainly influencers who have supported him.
“I am not speaking for ‘our side.’ You could be some of the most liberal people in the world in this audience, and I don’t care,” Trump told the assembled guests in the East Room on Thursday.
For most of the speech, however, he pointed to social media companies repeatedly deplatforming, suspending, shadowbanning or otherwise suppressing his supporters.
Big Tech should not be silencing the voices of the American people.
“In all fairness, some of you I could almost understand,” he joked, looking at the crowd. “Some of you guys are out there! But even you should have a voice!”
Calling free speech “the bedrock of American life,” Trump said he would be summoning the heads of social media platforms to the White House within a month or so, presumably to give them an earful about censorship going into the 2020 election.
“They have to be here,” he added, making clear that the invitation was not optional.
During the speech, Trump did mention he was surrounded by “friends,” and singled out several prominent supporters, such as vloggers Diamond and Silk. However, among those invited to the meeting were self-described liberals such as video journalist Tim Pool.
Currently at the White House Social Media Summit.
These boards define many terms in the censorship argument.
I disagree with “demonetization” being squarely political pic.twitter.com/iQSZ3ER4ck
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) July 11, 2019
Mainstream media outlets, which Trump denigrated as “corporate gatekeepers” and “fake news,” were less than charitable towards those in attendance. CNN’s Oliver Darcy – who has led the charge to deplatform Alex Jones and others he declared “hate figures” – complained about “right-wing extremists” and “trolls” who have “pushed conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation.”
CNN’s complaints had already resulted in the White House disinviting Ben Garrison, a web cartoonist and Trump supporter.
Even the usually sedate National Public Radio described the summit as a gathering of “far right” personalities, choosing to counterbalance the quotes from two of those invited – meme maker Carpe Donktum and radio host Bill Mitchell – with statements from Media Matters, a Democrat nonprofit that specializes in attacking conservative media voices.
Those who paid attention to the president’s speech might have noticed his explanation for why the White House puts out few old-fashioned press releases any more: Trump is convinced they would get ignored by the media giving him hostile coverage.
If I put it out on social media, it’s like an explosion: Fox, CNN, crazy MSNBC.
Trump added that CNN – a frequent target of his barbs – chooses to focus on his typos, such as the now-legendary “covfefe,” a printout of which was on display at the White House for the event.
“I’m actually a very good speller, but the fingers aren’t as good as the brain,” said Trump, 73.
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