Trump's 'social media summit' isn't fearsome, it's pitiful
It may only be July, but it seems Festivus is nonetheless upon us.
At least, at the White House, where President Donald Trump is set to host a so-called "social media summit" -- an airing of grievances for right-wing activists and social media personalities.
In typical fashion, he tweeted about it Thursday morning:
"A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer. The Fake News Media will also be there, but for a limited period."
This, of course, is not a social media summit -- and here's how you know: none of the major social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, are invited to attend.
Who is? Minds.com, the "anti-Facebook" platform that once gave safe harbor to several neo-nazi extremist groups, some noted and discredited conspiracy theorists, a number of conservative think tanks, a senator and a congressman, among others. Also included, if boasts on social media are to be believed: an activist who tried to attack Sen. Kamala Harris as "not an American black" after the Democratic debates.
A cartoonist who published a cartoon that many slammed as anti-semitic also was invited and then disinvited (an administration official did not respond to a CNN request for comment about the rescinded invitation).
For many on the left and in the establishment press, this is an unsavory cast of characters -- a group of unserious instigators and ne'er do wells whom the President of the United States should not be elevating.
This consternation is somewhat understandable — some of these figures are truly loathsome internet trolls who serve no purpose other than to harass, antagonize, provoke and spread misinformation. Some others have pushed hateful speech and racist memes. Still others are merely annoying gadflies.
But there also are a number of reasons this event should not get us all worked up.
For starters, who is remotely surprised by this? These are Trump's peeps, his bros, his ride or dies. Most of these folks have devoted some or much of their careers to protecting and promoting him, for some to their considerable professional detriment. As Reagan was fond of saying, you dance with the one that brung ya. Well, these are the ones that brung him, and Trump wants to reward them with some face time before the election ramps up.
He also, without a doubt, wants to get a rise out of us. Mission accomplished.
These are also not the first controversial guests to be invited to this White House or others.
Nearly every past administration has hosted an unsavory dictator or two, a war lord or a tyrant, people who were truly undeserving of their elevated surroundings. Then there are the celebs. George HW Bush had the late NWA rapper, one of my faves, Eazy-E, over for lunch. President Obama had Snoop Dogg, who bragged he smoked pot in the White House bathroom. Rick Ross also visited, while wearing an ankle monitor for his kidnapping and assault charges. And let's not forget, Harvey Weinstein also made the cut. How are they any more venerable or august? Selective outrage is a fickle mistress.
Finally, there are actually real issues confronting conservatives and social media. I hope they're addressed or at least raised in serious ways on Thursday, and not merely just the window dressing for a Trump pep rally.
More likely, though, the "summit" is just a front for the President's fan club to get together and complain about the "fake news" press and how they're so put upon, and brag about owning the libs. This is not something to fear, folks — it's something to pity.