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MRC’s Brent Bozell Tees Off on Babylon Bee Censorship; ‘What Is Wrong with These People?’



Appearing Tuesday’s Fox News @ Night, Media Research Center Founder and President Brent Bozell partnered with host Shannon Bream and Democratic strategist Kevin Walling to roundly condemn one of the latest absurd acts of tech censorship as Facebook allegedly demonetized The Babylon Bee because a recent post satirizing Senator Maize Hirono (D-HI) was deemed capable of “inciting violence.”

Bream would explain that the article in question was clearly a play on an infamous Monty Python scene involving a goose and whether someone was a witch, but Facebook still found it to have been dangerous to Hirono’s well-being.

As Bozell put it, this was another reminder of “why people like [Jerry] Seinfeld won’t go to college campuses and do comedy anymore” since we’re apparently “not allowed to laugh” or engage in “pure satire” so as not to run ill of the Big Tech gods.

 

 

An exasperated Bozell also wondered: “The Onion does the same type of thing. Cannot The Onion exist? Can’t we just have a little chuckle, especially when the world’s gone mad? I mean, what is wrong with these people?”

Bozell said this story reminded him of other acts of censorship, such as Facebook banning a Mitch McConnell campaign ad for having shown violence on American streets and YouTube having demonetized “Dennis Prager because he was advocating violence in a — in a video that he did about The Ten Commandments because thou shalt not kill.”

For her part, Bream slammed so-called fact-checkers going after The Babylon Bee as “ridiculous” and then the Hirono article as “definitely not threatening or violent.”

Walling concurred because The Babylon Bee exists as “a satire website” and, more broadly, he’ll “always…come down…on the side of the First Amendment and free expression, and it becomes very problematic when Facebook starts policing the sites and determines what’s violent, what’s hate speech, what have you.”

Prior to that discussion, the trio sounded off on the reportedly hostile interview President Trump taped early Tuesday for Sunday’s 60 Minutes with CBS’s Lesley Stahl (and Trump’s threat to release the White House’s taping of it beforehand).

Bozell replied that he wasn’t sure “why he did this interview” seeing as how “you know what you’re going to get from 60 Minutes” and while “there’s nothing wrong with a tough interview, but you just know that it’s going to be gotcha on one end and it’s going to be softballs to — to Biden and that’s what I’m sure we’re going to see.”

He then added (and prior to Walling’s insane assertions that 60 Minutes and Steve Kroft were tough on Barack Obama) (click “expand”):

 

BOZELL: So, you know that’s what’s going to happen, so — so why did he consent to it? Why does he consent to it? He’s made the point that the media are out to get him. That is — everyone understands that now. He needs to be focusing on other things instead of picking these fights. I don’t think this served him well at all. 

BREAM: Kevin, do you give him some credit or sitting down for an interview he knows is going to be a tough one in a way that we haven’t really seen the former vice president pushed?

WALLING: Yeah, Shannon, it’s a good question. To Brent’s point, and we’re mostly in agreement, 60 Minutes is a tough interview. I remember back in the 2000s with Barack Obama and Steve Kroft. Steve Kroft would really go after then-President Obama with really tough questions. And I think to Brent’s point, you know, the fact that his White House team is allowing him to sit down with 60 Minutes, allowing him to sit down with so many interviews with Bob Woodward in the course of recording his book, I think that is really problematic for this president. We’re just two weeks out from the election and this President has yet to settle on a final message to the American people and attacking the media is what he’s been doing for the last five years. That’s not going to resonate with the middle voters that he needs to win over in these final two weeks. 

To see the relevant FNC transcript from October 20, click “expand.”

FNC’s Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream
October 20, 2020
11:44 p.m. Eastern

SHANNON BREAM: Indications tonight that a taped interview the President did with 60 Minutes today did not go as planned, including this tweet from the President calling out CBS’s Leslie Stahl for not wearing a mask in the White House after they wrapped. So, let’s debate what went down on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and another case of alleged censorship by Big Tech with Democratic strategist Kevin Walling and Media Research Center President Bret – Brent Bozell. Thank you both for being with us tonight. 

BRENT BOZELL: Hi, how are you?

KEVIN WALLING: Hey, Shannon, good evening. 

BREAM: I am good. Alright, Brent I want to start with you. The President said, I may release my own version or my own video of this thing because I want the American public to see how I was treated. We were told there were very aggressive questioning. That’s what the media is often doing, especially in the middle of a presidential election, but he wanted people to see and compare that with the way that former Vice President Joe Biden is getting treated. Well, Jonathan Swan of Axios tweets this out: “Not sure why the White House is giving 60 Minutes millions of dollars worth of free pre-air promotions but YOLO I guess.” You only live once. Brent, good move to cut it off and try to release it to yourself?

BOZELL: Well, take it a step further from — from what Axios said. I don’t know why he did this interview. Look, you know what you’re going to get from 60 Minutes. Frankly, it’s a head-scratcher. I don’t know why the White House consents to interviews they were going to go wrong from the beginning. They know that Lesley Stahl — you know, there’s nothing wrong with a tough interview. But you just know that it’s going to be gotcha on one end and it’s going to be softballs to — to Biden and that’s what I’m sure we’re going to see. So, you know that’s what’s going to happen, so — so why did he consent to it? Why does he consent to it? He’s made the point that the media are out to get him. That is — everyone understands that now. He needs to be focusing on other things instead of picking these fights. I don’t think this served him well at all. 

BREAM: Kevin, do you give him some credit or sitting down for an interview he knows is going to be a tough one in a way that we haven’t really seen the former vice president pushed?

WALLING: Yeah, Shannon, it’s a good question. To Brent’s point, and we’re mostly in agreement, 60 Minutes is a tough interview. I remember back in the 2000s with Barack Obama and Steve Kroft. Steve Kroft would really go after then-President Obama with really tough questions. And I think to Brent’s point, you know, the fact that his White House team is allowing him to sit down with 60 Minutes, allowing him to sit down with so many interviews with Bob Woodward in the course of recording his book, I think that is really problematic for this president. We’re just two weeks out from the election and this President has yet to settle on a final message to the American people and attacking the media is what he’s been doing for the last five years. That’s not going to resonate with the middle voters that he needs to win over in these final two weeks.

BREAM: Okay, look, a point of agreement from you guys. So, we’ll take it on that point. But I want to talk to you about The Babylon Bee. This is a Christian satire site that is sometimes fact-checked, which is ridiculous. But now they have been shut down, or demonetized — they say — on Facebook because of an article that they posted about Senator Mazie Hirono during the hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett last week. I read the article. It seems pretty — you know, definitely not threatening or violent. It’s talking about, you know, playing off an old Monty python joke of her — she’s going to weigh a duck versus Judge Barrett to see if Judge Barrett is a witch. Now, apparently, they were told that they were going to be demonetized because it could potentially incite violence. Seth Dillon with The Babylon Bee tweets this: “In what universe does a fictional quote as part of an obvious joke constitute a genuine incitement to violence? How does context not come into play here? They’re asking us to edit the article and not speak publicly about internal content reviews. Ooops, did I just tweet this?” Brent, it’s The Babylon Bee. 

BOZELL: You know, this explains why people like Seinfeld won’t go to college campuses and do comedy anymore. They’re not allowed to laugh. This is pure satire. You know, it’s like YouTube that demonetized Dennis Prager because he was advocating violence in a — in a video that he did about The Ten Commandments because thou shalt not kill. I mean, this is true. It is like Facebook banning an ad from Mitch McConnell about — because it was too violence [sic] when his ad was about the violence that was being perpetrated against him. You know, your head just spins around in circles. But at the end of the day, you can’t laugh, you can’t have satire. Babylon Bee is a whole — look, The Onion does the same type of thing. Cannot The Onion exist?

BREAM: Right.

BOZELL: Can’t we just have a little chuckle, especially when the world’s gone mad? 

BREAM: Well — 

BOZELL: I mean, what is wrong with these people?

BREAM: — I mean, yeah. We all need a chance to laugh. So, Kevin, that is the question. I don’t ever see The Onion being demonetized or getting fact-checked by Snopes. I mean, come on.

WALLING: You don’t, Shannon. This is a dangerous panel in that I’m going to agree with Brent again, which is not really what you see in these kinds of debates. It is a satire website. I went through some of these articles, funny enough the President actually retreated one of them not too long ago thinking it was actually real. I think it kinda fooled him. But I’m always going to come down and, Shannon, you and I have had these debates for a while on the side of the First Amendment and free expression, and it becomes very problematic when Facebook starts policing the sites and determines what’s violent, what’s hate speech, what have you. They have a real problem in terms of violent actors on their platform, and there are real needs —

BREAM: Yeah.

WALLING: — to take folks out —

BREAM: Okay.

WALLING: — of the conversation, but this —

BREAM: Yeah.

WALLING: — is clearly not the case here. 

BREAM: Yeah. Yeah. The Mazie Hirono thing — I would invite people to read it and see whether they can find the threat in there. In the meantime, we all need some laughs. So, Kevin and Brent, thank you both.

WALLING: We do.

BOZELL: Thank you.

WALLING: Thanks, Shannon. Good to be with you.



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