It’s a Mistake for Facebook to Woo The Daily Caller in a Quest for ‘Balance’

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Why is Facebook defending the Daily Caller? Carl Court/Getty Images

Tucker Carlson no longer has a day-to-day role at the Daily Caller, but his sensibility still pervades the site. And now it’s taking over social media.

In the same week Carlson worked overtime to defend the president on Fox News, media outlets took Facebook to task for its overly accommodating promotion of sites like the Daily Caller.

Ahead of their congressional testimony today, Facebook executives hosted a round table with news editors last week. And according to The Wall Street Journal, things got very heated.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith and HuffPost editor-ion-chief Lydia Polgreen objected to the fact that half the media outlets at the gathering were conservative.

They told Facebook’s head of global news partnerships Campbell Brown the site was going overboard in its attempts to avoid charges of bias, out of a false belief that mainstream outlets are more liberal.

The main target of their ire was the Daily Caller, which they said produced “trash” journalism even by conservative standards.

Polgreen was particularly incensed about a story that consisted entirely of tweets from a HuffPost staffer that the Daily Caller categorized as anti-Semitic.

Neil Patel, publisher of the Daily Caller (who also co-founded it with Carlson), reportedly said that story and others adhered to “basic journalistic guidelines.”

Facebook has not commented publicly on the contentious meeting, nor did the company respond to Observer requests for comment. The Daily Caller also did not respond by the time of publication.

The two sites have been chummy for quite a while, and even threw a presidential inauguration party together last year. Guests included Laura Ingraham, Scooter Libby and Martin Shkreli.

But the Daily Caller has been no stranger to controversy, and Facebook is taking a big risk by promoting their views (even for reasons of “balance”).

Tucker Carlson, who founded The Daily Caller.

Tucker Carlson, who founded the Daily Caller. Flickr Creative Commons

Carlson detests traditional media. He told Observer in 2016 that most journalists are “conventional, trite and stupid cowards” who “go to Twitter to figure out what they’re supposed to believe.”

The Daily Caller certainly doesn’t employ traditional reporters. One of the site’s first hires was David Martosko, a PR flack found guilty of driving while intoxicated (he’s now at the Daily Mail).

Carlson’s site also has a shoddy grasp of journalistic ethics. The Trump campaign sent 25 fundraising emails to the Daily Caller’s subscriber list, paying the site $150,000 along the way.

It’s also been accused of censoring columns criticizing Carlson’s employer, Fox News. In one case, a story was actually removed from the site, and the journalist who wrote it quit.

The Daily Caller’s former contributors also include Jason Kessler, who organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Coincidentally, the Daily Caller also provided fawning coverage of said rally. The site posted a video of a car plowing through protesters, set to a cover of Ludacris’ “Move Bitch.”

Even during the Obama administration, the Daily Caller courted controversy. Former reporter Neil Munro interrupted the president mid-speech in 2012, asking him why he favored foreigners over Americans.

Facebook obviously shouldn’t align itself with an outlet that has this much baggage. But of course, this isn’t the social network’s only journalistic dispute at the moment.

The social network also came under fire for allowing InfoWars to publish on its platform despite the site’s penchant for spreading conspiracy theories.

At a press event last week, Facebook’s Head of News Feed John Hegeman said “just being false… doesn’t violate our Community Standards” on news.

Needless to say, that’s not nearly good enough. Facebook needs to take a hard look in the mirror and decide whether or not it’s worth promoting extreme conservatives to maintain a false sense of balance.

It’s a Mistake for Facebook to Woo The Daily Caller in a Quest for ‘Balance’