By Curtis Houck
On the first Sunday morning political talk shows since the Facebook trending topics scandal broke, the major network Sunday shows and CNN’s State of the Union (with NBC’s Meet the Press preempted for a Barclay’s Premiere League game) failed to cover or debate this reported suppression of conservative stories by the social media behemoth.
Meanwhile, both of the news media-centric shows (CNN’s Reliable Sources and FNC’s MediaBuzz) devoted segments to the scandal that the tech site Gizmodo exposed on Monday morning.
Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter reserved a full segment to discuss what he deemed was something that “should alarm and impact everyone in media, despite your political persuasion” since, in his mind, Facebook has become “the most powerful name in news.”
As for why, he explained it’s “[n]ot because Facebook does any actual reporting, it doesn’t, but because it is the single biggest social network on the planet, growing bigger every day” and “where hundreds of millions of people see lots of links to news.”
Stelter noted the pushback from Facebook and particularly a post from founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg from late Thursday night before welcoming on Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute and The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway (who was given the inaugural Noel Sheppard Media Blogger of the Year Award last year).
Asked for both her reaction and conservatives at large, Hemingway opined that the allegations of the Gizmodo piece struck such a chord because “it confirmed the suspicions that so many conservatives and conservative media outlets had had for — going back quite some time about suppression of conservative news stories and sites and also elevation of other topics.”
Hemingway added that The Federalist has encountered suspicious situations with Facebook and one issue that conservatives truly noticed a larger media blackout was the Planned Parenthood baby parts video scandal:
Or perhaps the worst example was when the Planned Parenthood story broke and went viral within minutes. It took a very long time for Facebook to acknowledge that this was a trending topic. And then when they did, they didn’t link to the conservative sites that were actually breaking the news and doing the investigations. They linked to a few Planned Parenthood sponsored items instead. And that is — that really affects the way public opinion can be shaped and how other media figures respond. And so, this is not a healthy thing, particularly since they present this trending topic thing as if it’s just an algorithm and as if they are neutral.
Over on MediaBuzz, guest Shana Glenzer agreed that it’s “a black eye on the Facebook brand” but won’t affect how often people visit the site:
You know, we assumed trending topics were surfacing the biggest, most neutral stories from across the web. You’d love it from Facebook — you’d expect your friend’s to be biased but you don’t expect that from the site itself. Now, however, I’d be very surprised if this affects how often people log into Facebook. You know, they are still going to go there and post pictures of their kids and their dogs. I don’t think that’s going to change.
Glenzer and host Howard Kurtz both agreed that this new perception of Facebook being biased wasn’t the surprising and while it “has an appearance problem,” they concluded that the site will sufficiently alleviate the concerns.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters.