Open Society's Patrick Gaspard: Facebook used anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to silence critics
Gaspard: "It's astounding to see that one of the leading corporations in our country, one of the most powerful voices that we have globally on their platform, participated in that behavior"
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
From the November 15 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:
Loading the player reg...
ANDREA MITCHELL (HOST): Facebook is under intense fire following a bombshell investigation by The New York Times detailing how the social media giant allegedly tried to contain the fallout from the 2016 campaign data breaches. According to the Times, Facebook knew about Russian interference before 2016 and the election, and tried to cover it up. With top executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg ignoring warning signs and seeking to the conceal them from the public. NBC News has confirmed the Times' reporting that the Facebook team did in fact hire a Republican strategy firm that uses political campaign tactics to try and discredit Facebook critics by employing dirty tricks and conspiracy theories, including falsely linking billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros to a broad anti-Facebook movement. Joining me now by phone is Patrick Gaspard, president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, and Patrick it's good to talk to you. Patrick, this is a real crisis in your world, in our world. You've written overnight a letter to Facebook, to the executives, demanding explanations. Have you heard anything back from them?
PATRICK GASPARD (OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS): Andrea, thank you so very much for having me on, on this critical topic. I did indeed reach out to Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, she's reached out and has asked to speak, I really appreciate her prompt response to my inquiry and look forward to the conversation. But there are so many questions here Andrea, not just about George Soros and the Open Society Foundations and the abuse of our name and reputation, but there are broad questions about the the role that Facebook is playing in the integrity of our elections, our democracy. And frankly now that we know that they ran this black ops operation, there are questions about why they're following the model of people like Vladimir Putin. This is profoundly dangerous and disturbing.
MITCHELL: It certainly is also disturbing to the Democratic establishment if you will, because these are important people and players. We know Sheryl Sandberg, not just from her writing and her landmark books and her work at Facebook, and I know her as well, but I certainly covered her when she was in the administration in the Clinton years. So this is a very prominent Democratic figure.
GASPARD: You know, I have to say, Andrea, this is much bigger and much more important than that. This is not about one political party, this is about our small D democracy. As the New York Times investigation so ably demonstrates, the company fails to take seriously the criticisms, the concerns that were raised consistently by Americans at every level, from members of Congress to everyday users and communities around the country. And now they've compounded that problem by engaging in the most reprehensible, kind of systematic attack against the critics who are simply using their First Amendment rights and against competitors as well. And they did it in a way that lacked any transparency and any integrity. Andrea, you know that just a few weeks ago, George Soros was one of those Americans, one of those patriotic Americans who received a pipe bomb in his mailbox. That arrived after distortions from right-wing extremists, and from those who have been playing a hidden hand and laying up conspiracy after conspiracy that frankly has an anti-Semitic taint to it. It's astounding to see that one of the leading corporations in our country, one of the most powerful voices that we have globally on their platform, participated in that behavior as well. So I appreciate the spirit of your question, but this isn't just about Sheryl Sandberg as an individual, Mark Zuckerberg as an individual, or any partisan leanings they've had. This is something that profoundly threatens outcomes for all Americans.