A screenshot of the Ingraham Angle segment about the potential TikTok ban

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Trump’s sudden opposition to a TikTok ban has right-wing media divided, upsetting “a lot of conservatives”

A week after meeting with a major TikTok investor, the presumptive GOP nominee reversed his opinion on banning the app

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill with large bipartisan support that could potentially result in the popular social media app TikTok being banned from use in the United States. Former President Donald Trump, who has previously supported banning TikTok, seemingly reversed his position on the issue after meeting with a Republican donor invested in the company, claiming that banning TikTok would “make Facebook bigger” and that he considers Facebook “the enemy of the people.” 

Right-wing political and media figures have had mixed reactions to the bill and Trump’s new position — with some agreeing with the former president’s stance and others speaking critically of his flip-flopping or continuing to criticize the platform and support the bill.

  • As Congress considers whether to ban TikTok, Trump’s public stance on the company has shifted

    • On March 13, the House passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which would ban TikTok if it’s not divested from its China-based parent company ByteDance. President Joe Biden has endorsed the bill, saying he would sign it. [NBC, 3/13/24; The Associated Press, 3/8/24]
    • In response to the bill, TikTok sent out a notification on its app encouraging users to contact their representatives. According to some users, the message screen couldn’t be passed until they hit a “call now” button. Congressional offices were reportedly “inundated” with calls following TikTok’s notification. [Platformer, 3/7/24, Intelligencer, 3/7/24; The New York Times, 3/7/24]
    • In 2020, Trump pushed for a ban of TikTok and signed an executive order “prohibiting Americans from doing business with Beijing-based ByteDance.” The order was challenged in court and then revoked under Biden in 2021 in favor of one that called for “a broader review of a number of foreign-controlled applications.” [Forbes, 8/7/20; The New York Times, 6/9/21]
    • Trump has seemingly switched his stance on TikTok and ByteDance operating in the U.S. On Truth Social, Trump claimed on March 7 that banning TikTok would result in Facebook getting “double their business” and that the platform “cheated in the last Election.” On March 11, Trump claimed on CNBC that while he does view TikTok as a national security threat, he thinks that banning the app would make young users “go crazy.” He reiterated that while there is “a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok,” banning it would just “make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people.” [Truth Social, 3/7/24; The New York Times, 3/11/24]
    • The reversal came after Trump met with Jeff Yass, a major investor in TikTok and a Republican donor. Trump reportedly met with Yass on March 1 at a donor retreat for the conservative organization Club for Growth. In the March 11 CNBC interview, Trump claimed that he did not discuss TikTok in the recent meeting with Yass, but reports indicate that Yass has also “recruited several former Trump administration officials to help with the effort” of preventing a TikTok ban, including former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. Yass is also reportedly being considered for the position of Treasury secretary in the Trump administration in the event he defeats incumbent President Joe Biden in November, “according to people with knowledge of the discussions.” [ABC News, 3/11/24; Politico, 3/9/24, 3/1/24; The New York Times, 3/11/24; Bloomberg, 3/13/24]
  • Some right-wing media figures questioned or criticized Trump’s shift

    • Trump ally Laura Loomer posted to X that Yass is “leveraging Club for Growth to try to stop Trump from banning Tik Tok” and called it “disgraceful.” [Twitter, 3/13/24]
    • Fox News host Laura Ingraham said in a post on X that “this is a big mistake by the Trump campaign.” On Fox News’ Ingraham Angle, Ingraham also highlighted the relationship between Yass and Trump, saying, “It was reported that President Trump was not going to support TikTok — banning TikTok after a big donor who invested in ByteDance … had given a donation to President Trump. That upset a lot of conservatives and, you know, including yours truly.” [Twitter, 3/8/24; Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/8/24]
    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro stated that it's “not particularly clear” why Trump is not in favor of banning TikTok, and that he should be because it “pushes leftism harder than any outlet … on social media.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 3/12/24
    • Fox News host Steve Doocy observed that “a bunch of Republicans have been for a ban or for divesture for a long time,” adding that it’s “kind of weird that they're doing a 180.” Doocy also noted Trump’s reversal, saying that “at the eleventh hour now, a bunch of Republicans are doing a 180 on it. Donald Trump has changed his position on it.” Host Brian Kilmeade replied that Trump has said he was “staying out of it” and said that “the president was so right in 2022, or when he was in administration, to try to ban it. ” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/13/24, 3/13/24]
    • Former Trump advisor and War Room host Steve Bannon posted to Gettr, implying that the reason for Trump's TikTok flip-flop was “Simple: Yass Coin.” The post shared an article from Axios titled “Inside Trump's TikTok flip-flop.” [Gettr, accessed 3/14/24]
    • After Charlie Kirk asked Raheem Kassam, who is a former co-host of Bannon’s War Room, to “help me understand” Trump’s reversal, Kassam said, “the campaign needs cash.” During the exchange, Kassam said that he didn’t “want to speak out of turn” and asserted that “there is a lot of money on the table. There’s a lot of Club for Growth cash on the table. And one of the people who is funding the Club for Growth in a massive way at the moment is Jeff Yass.” He went on to say that he doesn’t “want to make it seem like there is a pay-for-play going on here” and is not sure that “President Trump is fully sold on the position of opposing the ban.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 3/13/24]
  • Some right-wing media and political figures agreed with and praised Trump’s new stance on TikTok and ByteDance

    • Failed Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said Trump’s right because “we need to end *all* forced data transfers to the CCP, regardless of ownership.” He also claimed that “bashing TikTok is easy. Understanding the actual issue is harder.” [Twitter/X, 3/8/24]
    • Right-wing X account Johnny Maga posted a clip of Trump’s interview and said he was “correctly” explaining “why U.S. Big Tech companies are no better than TikTok.” The post also quoted him as saying, “When you talk about highly sophisticated companies that you think are American, they're not so American. They deal in China and if China wants anything from them, they will give it.” [Twitter/X, 3/11/24]
    • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) praised elements of Trump’s previous policy on TikTok and ByteDance’s relationship, saying that he “helped solve” the “Tik Tok data problem” through a proposal to “store and secure all US users data in U.S.” His post went on to ask, “So why is the House GOP siding with Biden and still trying to ban Tik Tok?” [Twitter/X, 3/8/24]
    • Right-wing commentator Ian Miles Cheong claimed that Trump’s change in position is because he “values the First Amendment.” He also echoed Trump’s attacks on Meta, saying that “banning TikTok only helps Meta” and claiming Meta is “controlled by Democrats.” [Twitter/X, 3/8/24]
    • Right-wing pundit Darren Beattie, who founded Revolver News, wrote: “Trump is right to oppose silly Tik Tok ban.” He claimed that “Tik Tok is the consolation prize for GOPers afraid to go after Google.” [Twitter/X, 3/10/24]
    • Right-wing YouTuber Vince Dao said Trump’s flip-flop is “honestly the perfect scenario.” He claimed that the result would be “we ban TikTok but the blame with young voters goes on Biden and not Trump,” calling it a “5D chess game.” [Twitter/X, 3/8/24]
  • Several right-wing outlets and media figures expressed their support of the bill or criticized TikTok

    • An article from The Federalist titled “Congress Must Hold Firm Against TikTok’s Legion Of Lobbyists And Cut Off Chinese Espionage” celebrated that “legislators from both sides of the aisle are coming together to solve this unique challenge.” The article also noted the involvement of “Republican megadonor and ByteDance investor Jeffrey Yass” and said he has seemingly swayed some into “pearl-clutching in defense of TikTok.” [The Federalist, 3/11/24]
    • On Fox News, GOP strategist and former National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Matt Gorman criticized TikTok, calling it “very, very scary, the thought that so much of our youth is relying on what is essentially communist party in China spyware to get their information.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 3/8/24]
    • On Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claimed that “as long as ByteDance owns the artificial intelligence that powers TikTok, we got a Trojan horse living inside our country.” He also claimed that “if the Chinese Communist Party goes to them and says we want you to defeat Donald Trump, we want you to put out messages that are anti-Trump and pro-Biden, ByteDance has to do it. It doesn't matter that they are a company in China; by Chinese law they have to do it. If they say we want the data of all your users that live in Florida, they have to give it to them.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/11/24]
    • Fox News host Brian Kilmeade emphasized all the countries and states that have taken action against TikTok, saying that “everyone agrees that they [TikTok] have to do what the Chinese government wants.” He said that’s “why India banned TikTok in 2020, and 59 other devices. Why Australia, Canada, Britain and France and New Zealand have done that — 24 states have taken action here.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/12/24]
    • On BlazeTV’s The Steve Deace Show, host Steve Deace criticized TikTok and suggested some of those changing their tune were doing it for financial reasons. He said that “more cultural rotgut gets injected from that platform than any other” and claimed that the app “is the greatest recruiter for the — for bottoms and tops surgeries in the West, I would guess.” He also noted the flip-flopping from Republicans, asking if Vivek Ramaswamy is “hurting for money” and if Kellyanne Conway is “in a lower level Manhattan penthouse than she was in before.” Deace went on to claim that “this is why we always lose,” because “our guys just want to get a hundred million.” [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show, 3/12/24]
    • Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk said of TikTok: “I would love to see it just completely banned.” He also said that he thinks that TikTok is a “societal toxin.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 3/11/24]
    • Former Vice President Mike Pence posted to X that “TikTok is Chinese spyware that allows the Chinese Communist Party to manipulate the minds of young Americans at will and compromises the privacy of millions of Americans.” He also asserted that “the Trump-Pence Administration paved the path for this important legislation through an Executive Order intended to force the CCP to sell TikTok in 2020” and attacked the Biden administration, saying that it “demonstrated extreme short-sightedness and partisanship, revoking the Executive Order in 2021.” [Twitter/X, 3/8/24]