Facebook and the shameful media tradition of enabling Breitbart hate

Here we go again: Facebook just became the latest traditional media player to enable the right-wing hate of Breitbart News.

Unveiling its news tab initiative last week, on which Facebook is partnering with outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, the company also confirmed that the far-right conspiracy bastion Breitbart News is being included in the prestigious online rollout, even though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can’t give a straight answer for why the social media giant is partnering in a “high-quality” news initiative with a site that featured a “Black Crime” watch and publishes well-known white nationalists. “Part of having this be a trusted source is that it needs to have a diversity of views in there, so I think you want to have content that represents different perspectives,” Zuckerberg said last week.

“Perspectives”? Really? As Facebook was announcing its news tab cooperative last week, Breitbart was “cheering a right-wing campaign to spread revenge porn photos of Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA),” Media Matters noted, adding, “Breitbart is currently in ‘24-7 campaign mode’ for Trump, and its sham polling has been cited extensively by the president to push back against the impeachment inquiry.” It’s disgraceful, but hardly surprising. Breitbart editor in chief Alex Marlow has gone on the record saying that “rape” is just “sex a woman regrets.” Facebook must be so proud.

By the way, this Facebook situation could get worse, and very quickly. The company refuses to release the full list of media partners it has chosen to work with, leading to speculation that the complete roster will include a lot more Breitbart-type GOP swamps, thereby making a mockery of Facebook’s “quality journalism” initiative.

Facebook wants to win over Republicans, including lawmakers who have grilled Zuckerberg in Congress over shaky claims of ‘anti-conservative bias,’ as well as President Donald Trump, who has threatened tech companies with new laws and antitrust action,” The Verge noted. “Leaving out Breitbart might earn Facebook condemnation from these quarters.”

It’s all very sad, and it’s alarmingly common, as traditional media outlets, often fearful of offending conservatives, eliminate all commonsense guidelines and embrace the hateful, disreputable, and destructive work of right-wing media peddlers. Simultaneously, they often lock out thoughtful liberal players from gaining the same access.