Shortly after taking office in January 2021, President Joe Biden’s administration pressured Facebook to stifle The Daily Wire’s reach on the platform and boost the reach of legacy media outlets, according to meeting notes recently turned over to Congress.
The newly released documents, which were reviewed by The Daily Wire, show that Facebook repeatedly confirmed to the White House that it was working to re-engineer its platform in order to accomplish the administration’s directives on suppressing content that clashed with its COVID vaccine agenda.
The meeting notes, first reported by Just The News, detail discussions then-White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty had with Facebook executives in 2021 where the Biden staffer pressured the Big Tech company to moderate content related to COVID vaccines in order to enforce the administration’s policy goals. During one meeting on April 14, 2021, Flaherty asked Facebook about “chang[ing] the algorithm” to push content from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal over news from The Daily Wire and other “polarizing” entities.
“If you were to change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people. You wouldn’t have a mechanism to check the material impact?” Flaherty asked Facebook employees in a conversation about changing Americans’ attitudes about COVID vaccines, according to typed notes from the meeting.
At the time of the meeting in April 2021 and in the months following, The Daily Wire was the leading publisher on Facebook, getting far more clicks and reactions than the NYT, WSJ, and every other conservative and liberal news site. The meeting notes show the Biden administration telling Facebook that it was concerned about “misinformation” on the platform that caused many Americans to be “hesitant” about rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated against COVID.
“We have to explain to President, Ron, people, why there is misinfo on the internet, bigger problem than FB,” Flaherty was quoted as saying. “Where issues are, what interventions are, how well they are working, for products, want to engage in things that you know to be effective. I don’t even care about specific methodology, you have better, richer data than we’ll ever have.”
“What are the things driving hesitancy on your platform? What is it? How big is the problem? When you are intervening, how are you measuring success?” Flaherty asked, according to the meeting notes.
At one point in the meeting, Flaherty became frustrated that Facebook could not provide some of the data the White House wanted and pushed the company to “play ball.”
“I feel like we’re running around in circles. Some partners give us lots of information, some partners tell us to f*** right off. This feels like we’re chasing our tails. If you don’t want to give information, just say that,” Flaherty is quoted as saying. “I don’t want to feel like I’m going to a dog and pony show. My dream for FB to play ball. It’s about will we get out of this f***ing mess.”
The Biden administration’s collusion with Facebook was also detailed by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who chairs the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Jordan has been releasing information on the lengths the Biden administration went to pressure Facebook to censor Americans, and in his latest post, the congressman highlighted the administration’s targeting of The Daily Wire.
“The Biden White House wanted to control what you saw on Facebook,” Rep. Jordan wrote Thursday. “They questioned whether Facebook could change its algorithm so users saw more posts from the New York Times and less from [The Daily Wire] and [Tomi Lahren].”
“Why did they do that?” he asked. “Because they didn’t think you were smart enough to decide for yourself.”
But that’s not all.
The Biden White House wanted to control what you saw on Facebook.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) August 3, 2023
Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro responded to the communications between the White House and Facebook, telling Just The News, “The Biden White House’s pressure on Facebook to target Daily Wire for traffic reduction is an obvious, disgusting, and predictable First Amendment violation.”
“Government action is still government action even when the government is cudgeling private corporations to do the dirty work of censorship,” Shapiro added. “We sued the Biden administration to stop the OSHA vaccine mandate, and we’re not afraid of taking them to court again to preserve free speech rights. We’re looking into all available remedies as we speak.”