Patterico's Pontifications


Open Thread: Trump and Biden Dueling Town Halls

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:53 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here we go!

About the dueling town halls:

They were scheduled after the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled Thursday night’s planned town hall-style debate between Biden and Trump in the wake of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. The commission sought to shift that debate to a virtual format; Trump rejected the change.

In this corner, Donald “Glow” Trump on NBC!

In the opposite corner, Jumpin’ Joe Biden on ABC!

Have your adult beverage of choice ready, because if you’re watching either of these town halls or especially if you’re bouncing between the two, you’ll need it! Maybe even make it a double.


What We Were Told, What They Were Told

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

In February, here is what President Trump was telling Americans about the coronavirus:

February 2 “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

February 7 “It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu… This is deadly stuff” [Trump in a private taped interview with Bob Woodward, made public September 9]

February 10 “I think the virus is going to be—it’s going to be fine.”

February 10 “Looks like by April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

February 24 “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

February 25 “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”

February 25 “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”

February 26 “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

February 26 “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 26 “Well, we’re testing everybody that we need to test. And we’re finding very little problem. Very little problem.”

February 26 “This is a flu. This is like a flu.”

February 27 “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

February 28 “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”

Interestingly, here is what Trump’s administration was saying behind closed doors:

President Donald Trump’s advisers expressed concern for the U.S. economy in private briefings with major Republican donors while the president was telling the public the new coronavirus was “very much under control,” The New York Times reports. Trump administration officials, including National Economic Council chairman Larry Kudlow, told board members of the conservative Hoover Foundation, many of them top Republican campaign financiers, that the virus’ upcoming impact on the economy was still unknown in February, according to the notes on the meetings written by William Callanan, a longtime hedge fund consultant. Callanan sent his notes to several clients and associates, and the sobering assessment offered to investors behind closed doors reportedly led many in the investment world to sell off or short stocks. The day before the meeting, Kudlow said in a television appearance that the virus had been contained in the U.S. The move echoes the trades of several senators following closed-door coronavirus briefings.

Wealthy donors benefitted in more ways than one:

Investors…were already selling off stocks at the time. But they understood the significance of administration officials appearing to support their fears: “The president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Mr. Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent,” The Times explained.


Social Media Platforms Block Sharing of New York Post Story About Hunter Biden Emails

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

The underlying story may well be Russian-planted disinformation, but this is still troubling:

Facebook and Twitter took action on Wednesday to limit the distribution of New York Post reporting with unconfirmed claims about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, leading President Trump’s campaign and allies to charge the companies with censorship.

Both social media companies said the moves were aimed at slowing the spread of potentially false information. But they gave few details about how they reached their decisions, sparking criticism about the lack of clarity and consistency with which they apply their rules.

Facebook is “limiting distribution of the story as so-called “fact-checkers” look at the story. Given the checkered history of fact-checkers, it’s hard to feel reassured. Meanwhile, Twitter is being even more aggressive:

Twitter went further. It is blocking users from posting pictures of the emails or links to two of the New York Post’s stories referring to them, spokesman Trenton Kennedy said, citing its rules against sharing “content obtained through hacking that contains private information.”

Users who try to share the links on Twitter are shown a notice saying, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”

If a user clicks on links already posted on Twitter, the user is taken to a warning screen saying, “this link may be unsafe,” which they have to click past to read the story. Twitter also required the New York Post to delete its tweet about the story.

Twitter said it decided to block the links because it couldn’t be sure about the origins of the emails.

The problem is that Republicans can point to many, many stories over the years based on sources that were anonymous or shaky, and yet those stories were shared freely on social media.

I understand the concerns of Facebook and Twitter here. Especially given the skeevy nature of the story and the fact that it was laundered through Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, companies that were blamed for being used by Russian troll farms in 2016 apparently feel the need to show that they are Paying Attention. I will add that I absolutely do not see this as justification for putting the heavy hand of government on private companies’ ability to control what appears on their own Web sites. My guess is that Twitter and Facebook would not do this if they thought Trump was going to win, but they see the Biden landslide coming (as does Rupert Murdoch, by the way), and with it the impending Democrat control of Congress . . . and so I doubt they’re terribly concerned about Republicans’ complaints.

But in the end, this seems like a reckless and one-sided action that is going to fuel the suspicion that social media giants are putting their thumbs on the scale in favor of leftists.

P.S. Your favorite blog is still open to discussion of such matters! I linked the story yesterday, here. And that link remains active and will not come down. Advantage: blogs!

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