Donald Trump railed against social media in a freewheeling speech at a summit of conservative figures at the White House Thursday, accusing Silicon Valley giants of suppressing right-of-center views.
Ironically, Twitter went out worldwide on Thursday as attendees gathered for the social media summit in the White House East Room – but came back up before remarks in which he accused the tech brand of making it intentionally difficult for people to follow him.
The summit was billed as an attempt to promote transparency and fairness. White House reporters were thrown out and the live stream cut when Trump started to take questions.
In a free-wheeling speech akin to his performances at campaign rallies, Trump praised conservative social media figures for ‘the c**p you come up with,’ got applause for calling the mainstream media ‘fake news,’ and bemoaned his own apparent difficulties with Twitter.
He invited bloggers Diamond and Silk up on stage to speak, hailed the work of Project Veritas director James O’Keefe who has caught Google executives on undercover camera appearing to confirm claims of anti-conservative bias – something disputed by Google – and was starting to take a question from a former adviser turned broadcaster Sebastian Gorka when the livestream was cut.
In the course of the speech he claimed to be a victim of censorship himself.
‘I lot of bad things are happening. I have people, they come up to me: “Sir, we want to follow you. They won’t let us on,”‘ he claimed.
‘And it was so different than it was, even six, seven months ago. I was picking up unbelievable amounts of people, and I’m hotter now than I was then.
‘It used to take me a short number of days to pick up 100,000 people. I’m not complaining.
‘We’re like at 60-some-odd million. I was picking them up 100,000 people every very short period of time,’ he said.
‘Now it’s, I would say, 10 times as long. And I notice things happening, when I put out something – a good one that people like, right? A good tweet – it goes up.
‘It used to go up, it would say 7,000; 7,008; 7,017; 7,024; 7,032, 7,044, right? Now it goes 7,000; 7,008; 6,998. Then they go 7,009; 6,074. I said: “What’s going on? It never did that before.”‘
The speech, to a friendly audience, resembled a performance at one of his rallies.
And he used it to make a new, incendiary charge against Democratic 2020 candidates: that they were pushing ‘something worse than socialism, Communism,’ and wanting to turn the U.S. into ‘Venezuela.’
A source inside the room told DailyMail.com that duo Diamond and Silk spoke while the platform was down. So did House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
Representatives from Twitter, Facebook and Google were not invited to the White House event that was overshadowed earlier in the week by a decision to invite, and then disinvite, a conservative political cartoonist accused of using an anti-Semitic trope.
Trump said he’d be holding a separate meeting for them later in the month. ‘they see the unfairness of what’s happening,’ he insisted in his remarks. ‘Have a big meeting and a real conversation,’ he said.
On Thursday, the president accused Twitter of engaging in a conspiracy to suppress his message and the number of followers he’s getting.
He railed against the ‘fake news media,’ as well, claiming that CNN and other outlets are trying to silence his message. ‘We’re not going to be silenced,’ he said.
Trump repeatedly insisted that it’s a bipartisan issue.
‘I am not speaking for our side. I don’t even know if you’re on our side,’ he claimed, even though the guest list was carefully-curated. ‘Big tech must not censor the voices of the American people.’
The White House itself was accused of censorship this week.
Graphic artist Ben Garrison said in a statement that he had a discussion with the White House ‘and we came to the conclusion that my presence at the Social Media Summit would be a media distraction from the President’s message.’ Both parties decided Tuesday that he should not come, he writes.
‘They were nice about it, but naturally, I’m disappointed,’ he said, at first.
Garrison work has been derided as racist and anti-Semitic for its depictions of blacks and Jewish figures.
A cartoon of the Rothschild family, controlling billionaire George Soros, who is in turn pulling the strings on ex-CIA Director David Petraeus and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, in particular, resurfaced as the artist’s attendance was called into question.
He says he was driven to defend himself after the White House told a news outlet that his invited had been ‘rescinded,’ violating the pact it had made not to discuss the situation.
‘I was asked to remain silent about the whole thing. I said I would remain silent and I did remain silent,’ he said. ‘But then, overnight, they released a statement saying Ben Garrison will no longer be attending.’
He said the White House’s conduct was ‘disappointing,’ as he’d been promised that Donald Trump’s aides would be ‘ignoring the entire thing.’
‘It is obvious to anyone with common sense, I am not anti-Semitic,’ he said, blasting the Alliance Defense Fund for tarnishing his reputation by claiming that he is.
The White House’s only public comment all week about the summit had been about the goals of the event that tech titans like Facebook, Google and Twitter were being frozen out of.
‘Earlier this year the White House launched a tool to allow Americans, regardless of their political views, to share how they have been affected by bias online. After receiving thousands of responses, the President wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media,’ deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in an email to DailyMail.com.
Conservatives the president interacts with on Twitter said in posts over the last week that they received invitations, including Garrison, user Carpe Donktum, Scott Presler, O’Keefe, Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson and members of the Heritage Foundation’s policy and communications shops.
In a July 1 post that tipped off the public to the summit, Donktum thanked the president for the invitation and said he planned to attend the Washington, D.C. event.
‘After working out a few issues with childcare, I happily accept! It is a great honor to have been invited!’ he wrote.
Donktum, who says he’s a stay-at-home-dad, is behind the doctored, viral videos the president likes to share, like one of a Time Magazine cover that ends with Trump staying in office ‘4EVA.’ The president has posted the video multiple times on his accounts.
He’s also responsible for a satirical video of Joe Biden embracing himself after apologizing for inappropriate touching.
His trip to Washington for the event, he said in a later tweet, is being paid for by anonymous donors.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that social media giants like Twitter are colluding with Democrats to curb his following and silence conservative voices.
‘Twitter is just terrible what they do. They don’t let you get the word – I’ve had so many people come to me, ‘Sir, I can’t join you on Twitter.’ I see what’s happening, 100 percent,’ he claimed in a Fox Business interview at the end of June.
He’s accused Google of weighting its search results to bury positive information about him in the same phone call with Maria Bartiromo, which aired live on the network.
The president was unable to say whether Google was breaking any laws but told Bartiromo: ‘I tell you what, they should be sued because what’s happening with the bias – and now you see it with that executive yesterday from Google, the hatred for the Republicans.’
Trump appeared to be referring to an incident in October of 2018, when a design lead for Google vented on Twitter about Republicans’ confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.
He wrote, then deleted, a tweet that said: ‘You are finished, GOP. You polished the final nail for your own coffins.’
Spokespersons for Google were unavailable to comment on the White House’s social media summit. Facebook declined to issue a statement on the event.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment, as well, but denied that the company is singling out conservatives on the platform.
‘We enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation. We are constantly working to improve our systems and will continue to be transparent in our efforts,’ the spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
In the interview on Fox Business at the end of June, the president claimed that Twitter is making it difficult for his supporters to join the platform that he uses as the primary distribution method of direct communication.
‘You know, I have millions and millions of followers but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me in Twitter, and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message,’ he contended.
He claimed, ‘These people are all Democrats. It’s totally biased toward Democrats. If I announced tomorrow I am going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up 5 times more followers. I was picking up, 100,000 followers every few days and all of a sudden — I am much hotter now than I was a number of months ago. But a number of months ago and then all of a sudden it stopped. And now I pick up a lot but I don’t pick up nearly what I did.’
The president argued that Google should be investigated for its association with Russian bloggers attempting to meddle in the election.
‘Let me tell you, they’re trying to rig the election. That’s what we should be looking at not the witch hunt, the phony witch hunt which has proven zero. You know not even a phone call,’ he argued. ‘This is the biggest political disgrace in history.’
Trump also claimed that Google should be sued for alleged ‘bias’ against conservatives and support for Democrats.
‘It’s not even like gee let’s lean Democrat, the hatred. And actually, you know, I heard that all during my election. It’s hard that I won, they were – they were swamping us with negative stuff,’ he said.