How to do reporting when people won’t cooperate

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a congressional hearing this past week and was subjected to questioning by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who asked him about his “ongoing dinner parties with far-right figures.” As Jon Schwarz and Sam Biddle report, Zuckerbergs feelings must have been hurt by the impression being given that someone like him from the supposedly liberal tech industry was hobnobbing with notorious right wingers like “Tucker Carlson of Fox News; talk show host Hugh Hewitt; Ben Shapiro; former Free Beacon editor Matt Continetti; and Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center”, as odious a group of media personalities as you are likely to encounter.

So Zuckerberg gave his side of the story on (where else?) Facebook, where he said:

As Schwarz and Biddle write:

So obviously – given Mark’s thirst for meeting new people, hearing from a wide range of viewpoints, and the joy of learning – he’s also constantly hanging out with prominent leftists. All that remains now is to document it.”

The problem was that when they asked a Facebook representative which leftists he was meeting with for dinners, the spokesperson could not or would not elaborate. This is where stories sometimes die, when the person in the hot seat refuses to provide further information. But Schwarz and Biddle realized that there are not that many prominent leftist media groups so they asked around. But people at The Nation, Mother Jones, Democracy Now!, Jacobin, Black Agenda report, Current Affairs, and Fairness and Accuracy in Media all say that none of their outlets was even contacted by Zuckerberg, let alone invited to dinner.

“In a strange coincidence,” states [Current Affairs] editor Nathan Robinson, “all of the socialists I have spoken with have failed to receive our invitations. I blame the post office.” (Robinson predictably does not note that the post office, the organization that has failed him, is a socialist institution.)

These cynical cynics would point out that, despite constant accusations from the right-wing media that Facebook “silences” conservatives, the right-wing media is wildly popular on Facebook.

But the most likely explanation here is that Mark, with his intense quest for knowledge, did in fact share invigorating meals with these leftist individuals and organizations, and they’ve all just forgotten. They’re pretty busy; it’s easy to see how that would happen.

The only alternative is to believe, as Naureckas says, that large media corporations like Facebook hate being attacked from the left, but “do not mind being attacked from the right, because the right is fundamentally in favor of the kind of corporate power they represent.” It would also mean believing that Zuckerberg, one of the most powerful people on this planet, is an absolutely shameless liar.

Does anyone believe Zuckerberg when he says anything anymore?


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