By Nicholas Fondacaro
While their competitors over on ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News used GOP infighting to muddy their reporting on the Facebook oversight board’s decision to uphold the ban on former President Trump, NBC Nightly News focused on the board’s criticisms of the social media giant and their unfair ban of the former President. In addition, nearly every soundbite, senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson used chided Facebook for their ban.
In contrast to ABC and CBS, who combined their ban reports with their coverage of the push to remove Congresswoman Liz Cheney (WY) from her position in House leadership, NBC separated the two.
Jackson kicked off her report by noting Trump was still banned from Facebook “for now” as the board told the company to revisit the issue in six months and review their policy. But she also jumped on Facebook using the board’s criticism that an “indefinite suspension” was inappropriate:
But the company’s independent oversight board is kicking the ultimate decision back to Facebook, saying the platform’s “indefinite suspension” of Donald Trump, in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection, is not appropriate; and giving a six-month window for Facebook to clarify the rules and decide what to do: put a concrete timeline on the suspension, permanently disable the account, or let Mr. Trump back on but remove posts that violate Facebook policies.
The first soundbite Jackson shared came from her interview with the board’s administrative director, Thomas Hughes who said Facebook’s actions were “not consistent with freedom of expression.” “It’s saying to Facebook although you were correct on the day [transition] it’s not proportionate to have an indefinite suspension,” he said.
When pressed on the platform’s handling of the ban, Hughes added that it was completely “arbitrary”:
JACKSON: Do you believe that Facebook mishandled this initial ban?
HUGHES: By using an arbitrary penalty, Facebook did not apply or did not handle the case in a manner that was transparent or consistent or predictable for the user.
“The board blasting Facebook for trying to ‘avoid its responsibilities’ as the platform now considers ‘clear [and] proportionate’ next steps,” she explained to viewers.
She even highlighted criticisms from conservatives:
JACKSON: Mr. Trump, who’s still banned from Twitter and YouTube, is calling his suspensions “a total disgrace” and warning the, quote, “corrupt social media companies must pay a political price.”
MARK MEADOWS (CPI): And what we see in this decision is really about chilling free speech.
The video portion of the report concluded with St. John’s University assistant law professor Kate Klonick hoping the scrutiny on Facebook would lead to “a move … towards more accountability and democratization of private platforms.”
Editor’s note. The appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.