Daily Media Links 11/12

November 12, 2020   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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Free Speech

Washington Examiner: A country where people are afraid to tell pollsters what they think

By Michael Barone

The hidden Republican trend may be due to what two Republican consultants derived from extensive interviews with suburban voters over six months. They told [National Journal’s Josh] Kraushaar that respondents complained about “the excesses of so-called ‘cancel culture,’ pointing to a stifling environment where employees worry they can be fired or punished for heterodox political views expressed at the workplace.” Such voters evidently hesitated before voicing career-ending or friendship-breaking views to callers who may have their names or addresses.

The Media

National Review: Against ‘Unity’

By David Harsanyi

Political unity is an ugly, authoritarian idea. No free place has domestic political unity, nor should it aspire to it.

What “unity” really means, of course, is capitulation. America is once again being subjected to the inane brand of pseudo-patriotic sloganeering we saw during the Obama years…

Time magazine, the same publication that helped erode trust in our electoral system with conspiratorial covers of the White House morphing into the Kremlin, now offers a commemorative cover featuring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris with the words, “A time to heal.” Unlike some of our progressive friends, I don’t believe in enemies lists or censorship, so my healing process is simple: It involves playing whatever small part I can in extinguishing the political fortunes of those who want to weaken the Constitution.

Online Speech Platforms

Protocol: Facebook’s political ad ban could last another month

By Issie Lapowsky

The announcement, which Facebook made in an update to a blog post Wednesday, fueled mounting frustration among Democrats, who say that the ban is limiting Georgia senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock’s ability to reach voters ahead of a crucial runoff election in January.

In its blog post, Facebook said advertisers can “expect this to last another month, though there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner.” …

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google may also continue its ban for at least a month. In response, Miryam Lipper, communications director for the Ossoff campaign, called for an exemption for Georgia candidates. “Facebook and Google’s unacceptable ad ban will block voters from learning how to register to vote, request absentee ballots and ensure their vote is counted,” Lipper told Protocol in a statement. “With 55 days until the election, Facebook and Google are putting their fingers on the scale for millionaire Republican candidates while ignoring the rampant disinformation on their platforms and engaging in their own version of voter suppression.”

CBS News: Candidates fear Georgia Senate runoffs could be hampered by digital political ad bans

By Sarah Ewall-Wice and Eleanor Watson

On Wednesday, Facebook confirmed its post-election ban on [political] ads will continue amid ongoing vote counting and legal efforts in some states…

Facebook’s Rob Leathern addressed Georgia specifically in a tweet Wednesday. “We know that people are disappointed that we can’t immediately enable ads for runoff elections in Georgia and elsewhere. It’s taken years to build the infrastructure that supports the Facebook Ad Library and ensure that political ads are transparent,” he wrote. “We do not have the technical ability in the short term to enable political ads by state or by advertiser, and we are also committed to giving political advertisers equal access to our tools and services.” … 

The Georgia Senate runoffs will determine the control of the Senate, since the makeup of the Senate following Election Day consists of 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats, with the two races in Georgia the last to be decided. If Democrats win both seats, they would have the majority since Harris, as vice president, would cast the tie-breaking vote. 

Candidates and Campaigns

Newsweek: Biden Campaign on Course to Spend $18 for Every Vote Won, 50 Percent Higher than Previous Record

By Darragh Roche

Former Vice President Joe Biden is on course to spend the most per vote of any presidential candidate in U.S. history in what has been the most expensive presidential race ever…

The Biden campaign raised a combined $1,380,583,483 this cycle. That figure includes contributions to the official campaign committee, Biden for President, and outside groups campaigning for the Democrat.

So far, $1,146,283,972 of that total has been spent and the Biden campaign is likely to burn through most of the remainder before the FEC filing deadline for the post-general election report on December 3.

Biden won 76,994,475 votes nationwide, meaning his campaign is on track to spend almost $18 per vote.

This is more than any previous candidate has spent, both in total and when broken down by cost per voter.

The Atlantic: The Folly of Just Throwing Money at Political Candidates

By Eitan Hersh

Online giving, large and small, suffers from a problem of discipline. Rather than stopping and thinking and planning a strategy-which candidate or organization would make the best use of my money?-many online donors are just acting expressively. They see an inspiring video, and they click Donate. They see a good politician take down a bad politician in a debate or in a congressional hearing, and they click Donate. They mourn the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and they click Donate. Sometimes this money goes to a great campaign or organization that will use it well. Other times, not so much.

Ideally, expressive donations would create an opportunity for political organizers to raise money when it comes in easy so that they can spend it later-much as the biblical Joseph stored up crops in the years of plenty to maintain supplies in the years of famine. That upside, of course, relies on Joseph-like party operatives to lay the groundwork, hire full-time organizers, plan a long-term grassroots strategy, and keep momentum strong for when the flood of donations ends.

More often, though, money that is raised quickly and nonstrategically is spent quickly and nonstrategically…

Furthermore, the candidates and messages that yield the most money online are not necessarily the candidates and messages that perform the best with voters. For instance, online fundraisers have long known that outrage is the key to those viral videos that bring in loads of cash, which is why highly provocative candidates such as Trump are so adept at bringing in low-dollar donations for themselves. But as Harrison and McGrath showed, candidates can raise enormous sums online while still losing by double digits.

Wall Street Journal: Silicon Valley Gets Another President Skeptical of Big Tech

By Sarah E. Needleman and Deepa Seetharaman

As a candidate, Joe Biden lambasted Facebook Inc. for what he considered failures to contain the spread of misinformation. His presidential election win puts him in a position to do something about it.

Facebook, Apple Inc., Google and other tech giants are bracing for continued attention on their operations in a Biden administration, with issues such as competition, innovation and social-media platforms’ policing of content likely to be in focus, according to industry executives, analysts and academics.

Companies are watching for hints of a Biden administration’s disposition toward Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which provides legal protections to internet platforms for content that users post. Mr. Biden called earlier this year for revoking the liability shield for platform owners.

“Biden will be under significant progressive pressure to crack down on large platforms,” said Darrell West, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation…

Mr. Biden will enter the White House following a shift in the way U.S. government officials view Silicon Valley. The nation’s biggest tech companies were once embraced as economic engines and U.S. success stories, but Democratic and Republican lawmakers now view their clout with suspicion, and recent polls suggest people who use their products feel similarly.

The States

Seattle Times: Appeals court upholds $18M fine against grocery industry group for violating Washington campaign law

By Jim Brunner

An appeals court has upheld a record-setting $18 million penalty imposed on a national grocery-industry group for violating Washington campaign-finance laws during a 2013 fight against a food-labeling initiative.

In a unanimous ruling Tuesday, the Washington State Court of Appeals found the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA) violations “serious and significant” and “represented an intentional attempt to conceal the identity of companies donating millions of dollars in a contentious ballot campaign.”

The case stemmed from the hard-fought 2013 battle over Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food products sold in Washington. Voters narrowly rejected the measure, with a record $22 million spent by the “no” campaign.

GMA – which has since changed its name to the Consumer Brands Association -spent more than $11 million to defeat the initiative. But its contributions were disclosed only as coming from the association, not the companies that bankrolled the effort, such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle and General Mills.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued, saying the group had failed to properly register as a political committee and flouted transparency laws. His attorneys unearthed internal GMA documents showing the trade group had sought to insulate individual companies from public blowback by hiding their names.


Tiffany Donnelly

Tiffany Donnelly


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