- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2020

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough unloaded on Facebook executives Wednesday for allowing misinformation and extremist ideologies to flourish on the company’s flagship social network.

Mr. Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress in Florida, took aim at the tech titan’s top officials during the latest episode of his “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC.

In an emotional, nearly seven-minute screed, the “Morning Joe” singled out both Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively — for contributing to what he described as the “undermining of American democracy.”

Mr. Scarborough began the diatribe by noting that Facebook has continued to do nothing about President Trump using his popular account on the platform to spread misinformation, such as repeatedly accusing the “Morning Joe” host of murdering a former staffer nearly two decades earlier and pushing conspiracy theories about an elderly protester recently injured after being pushed by police officers in Buffalo, New York.

“In this age of Trump and gaslighting, I’ve seen a lot of insincere statements put out,” Mr. Scarborough said. “I’m going to say Mark Zuckerberg talking about how deeply saddened he was by the things he’s seen the president’s say is near the top of it considering that he makes billions of dollars off him spreading lies and letting people spread lies, hateful lies, that I can tell you, in my case, is torturing the lives of a family who lost their daughter and their wife 19 years ago.

“But you can say the same thing about a 75-year-old man who’s fighting for his life, has a cracked skull, can’t walk, and it’s spread all over Mark Zuckerberg’s site that he may be Antifa, while we have other members of Congress saying that maybe they should gun down Antifa,” he said.

Mr. Scarborough subsequently proceeded to recall a segment from earlier in the show in which it was reported how members of the “Boogaloo” right-wing extremist movement have recently taken to Facebook.

“Those people are becoming billionaires, and for Mark Zuckerberg to say he’s sad because he’s making billions of dollars off of lies being spread, off of hate groups germinating on Zuckerberg’s website and Sandberg’s website, it is so disingenuous,” Mr. Scarborough said later. “And if Congress doesn’t do something to make Mark Zuckerberg liable and to make Mark Zuckerberg’s website liable for the hatred and the lies and the libel that is being spread on his website, then American democracy will remain at risk.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly posted on social media recently about the 2001 death of an aide whose body was discovered at Mr. Scarborough’s congressional office in Florida. Although an autopsy has long determined that the aide had an undiagnosed heart condition that caused her to lose consciousness, fall and hit her head, he has speculated that the future MSNBC host was responsible.

The president has also baselessly speculated recently that Martin Gugino, the elderly protester injured in Buffalo, is an anti-fascist, or Antifa, “provocateur” who may have been trying to interfere with police communications before being pushed by two officers, hitting his head and cracking his skull.

But while social media platforms such as Twitter and Snapchat have recently begun to rein in Mr. Trump’s accounts, Mr. Scarborough noted that Facebook has failed to follow suit.

“Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have proven they are interested in one thing,” Mr. Scarborough said. “More than truth, more than the protection of 75-year-old men who were brutalized in a march for black justice. More than the protection of American democracy, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are only interested in protecting their billions.

“And so when you find that a federal officer is mowed down, is killed by a right-wing extremist group, and it’s Mark Zuckerberg’s whose platform is promoting that group by pushing people to that group, then his words are meaningless,” he said. “He is lying to you. He is lying to himself. He is lying to the American people. And Congress and the next president of the United States need to stand up to the billions and billions of dollars in Silicon Valley and hold these people, hold these billionaires accountable for their lies and for their undermining of American democracy!”

Facebook did not immediately return a message seeking its reaction to Mr. Scarborough’s remarks.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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