Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio and Trial Magazine Executive Editor Farron Cousins take a look at Social media giant Facebook, who recently announced that it would be investing $300 million into local news. Then, legal Journalist Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to talk about the scathing resignation letter from an NBC commentator who claimed that he couldn’t take the network’s constant pro-war propaganda anymore.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             We’ve learned in recent months that there was virtually nothing Facebook users could do to stop Mark Zuckerberg from selling their private data, including their private messages to third parties. The company has routinely violated our privacy rights and now they want to buy up local media outlets to help control the bad coverage the company’s getting. Farron Cousins with me from the National Trial Lawyer Magazine. Farron, you know, this story I saw on Reuters, you found it in Reuters. This looks like a press release that Reuters, it looks like the reporter for Reuters never thought through what does this really mean? He just takes this oh wow, this is good. They’re going to spend 300 kazillion dollars and they’re going to help. The word is we’re gonna help the news agencies. What is your, I mean your, your take on this was exactly mine. Let’s talk about this one.

Farron Cousins:                  This story is, is frustrating, but it’s absolutely something that people need to understand and read past these headlines, past this fluff piece by Reuters, which again, usually great Reuters is. This was a failed piece on their part because what Facebook is trying to do here is the same thing we’ve seen corporations do for decades. They want to come in to local news organizations, local new stations. They’re not going the corporate owned network route, so they go into the local ones and they say, listen, we’re going to help you. We’re going to give $300 million dollars to help you. You can hire journalists with this. We’re going to teach you how to use social media, how to attract more advertisers. Facebook’s going to be your best friend.

Mike Papantonio:             Well they sold our phone numbers, they sold our addresses, they sold our privacy, and and now we’re saying, how are you so naive? How has this reporter, this naive? This reporter should be working with Good Housekeeping. I mean, you know, doing fluff pieces, pieces for Good Housekeeping. How do, how do you take this story and not understand what Facebook is really up to? Okay? They’re censoring everything. If they don’t like it, if it doesn’t fall into their little snowflake view of the world, then it’s bad. Okay? If you’re too far left, you’re bad. If you’re too far right, you’re bad. It’s, and so how do we look at this and not say, yeah, this is a problem?

Farron Cousins:                  Well and here, here’s the thing too, just to kind of hit on that, you know, censoring far left far right, whatever it is, it’s because some of those on the far right say things that advertisers don’t want to be associated with and those are the far left are the ones who actually go in after the advertisers because they’re typically corrupt companies. So Facebook doesn’t want to make the people mad who paid their bills, who buy our data. So that’s part of the reason there. It’s all about the money too when you follow it on that trail, but this, this $300 million to local newsrooms, to me, they’re trying to do the Sinclair model.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  Because Sinclair has become hugely influential, pushing their own agenda through the local news stations. They don’t have to buy the MSNBC or Fox or CNN. They go local. Facebook saw that thought, hey, this is cheaper. This is more effective because people trust their local news more than they do cable.

Mike Papantonio:             News it local. I mean the first time you learn in journalism school, local, local, local. Okay. Let me put this in perspective how dangerous this is. We were trying to do a story, through a site, that where we were publishing a story about the addiction problem in the United States and the potential rehab possibilities. Now they, they didn’t, they wouldn’t publish the story. Facebook said, no, this doesn’t meet our standards. Veronica Brewer, the social media manager. Here’s what she says.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, Veronica Brewer was the one who got the message from Facebook.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, got… Excuse me. She gets the message from Facebook and from Facebook this is what she says, that they had issues trying to post the latest article that we posted on our Facebook page. It seems our page is not authorized to run content that refers to addiction, help and recovery. This is a new Facebook regulation. What is that? Okay. We can’t publish this because the article deals with addiction, help and recovery. So somebody in Facebook says, no, that’s not news, and so they don’t run this article where we’re talking about how the industry is killing 150 people a day and that the only avenue that they have is to be able to put together resources to help these addicts and that the companies should have to pay for it.

But Facebook says, some bird, bird brain up at Facebook says, no, we can’t do this because it deals with addiction, help and recovery. I don’t even know how to respond to it, but these are the people. These are the Facebook types that we’re going to, you said earlier, we’re going to have a Facebook network. Facebook news network, and when you and I do a story that they don’t like because it offends their politically correct mind, they’re going to say, I’m sorry we can’t do that because you know what, it deals with addiction and recovery.

Farron Cousins:                  I think to me they’re hiding behind the veil of political correctness. We don’t want to be too far right. We don’t want to be too far left and this note you’ve just read, to me, that kind of proves it. What they’re worried about is making the people who pay them money angry. You know, kind of what I, what I said earlier is they, they know that they could probably get a lot of money from these drug companies. Hell those drug companies are the same people, they’re going to be out there allegedly courting for these local news stations.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  And again, to hit back on this story, part of what Facebook is going to do in addition to just giving them $300 million, is we’re also going to sit down with you. We’re going to teach you.

Mike Papantonio:             Teach you what we want.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, and teach you how to attract advertisers.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, they’re not given out, they’re not giving out their money for free.

Mike Papantonio:             Military analyst and journalist William Arkin said goodbye to NBC after three decades and he pulled no punches about why he was leaving. Arkin explained his decision in a 2000 plus word resignation letter he sent to colleagues last week, citing a lack of real reporting at NBC’s support for endless war in this world. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins me now. This is not, Mollye you know, we’ve done, we’ve talked about MSNBC, we’ve talked about NBC. We always start this discussion in this, first of all, people need to go online and read the entire. It is scathing.

Mollye Barrows:                I thought it was wonderful. I thought it was heart, it made me feel good that they’re still freedom fighters within the ranks.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, that there’s still a journalist out there that’s really a journalist. So what’s happened, and I talked, the best way to explain this story is when in the lead up to war, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s Iran, whether it’s this new Cold War that the media is trying to start with both Russia and China at the same time. You all, you wonder, are they really an extension of the military complex? Now Eisenhower, you remember, believed that the media was part of that. He said, be very careful because this industrial military complex is going to be very dangerous and he actually anticipated the media might be part of that. Now we see that certainly MSNBC, if you watch MSNBC in a lead up to war, you’re going to see Boeing commercials. You’re going to see McDonnell Douglas commercials. You’re going to see these military commercial where it’s not like you’re going to go out and buy a missile. You’re not going to buy a cruise missile, right? So as you’re watching the ad, you’re going to wonder why they’re advertising on MSNBC. It’s because these cats like Phil Griffin and Andy Lack are sucking in the money and in exchange for sucking in the money from advertisement money, they’re willing to say whatever has to be said. What’s your take?

Mollye Barrows:                You’re exactly right. Now, he didn’t go into a lot of those details, but basically the picture that he painted is, hey, I’m a 30 year journalist, military analyst, author. I’ve been working at NBC on and off for three decades and every single time whether I’ve been covering 9/11 or I’ve covered the Cold War, when I tried to cover the real issues that led to us being in these conflicts to begin with, those issues get brushed aside. No matter what angle that he pitched, basically they didn’t want to hear it. They only wanted to continue the war cry. There was only room for one war cry and that was to go along with whatever our military leaders set at the time needed to be done. So if the war on terrorism called for going in and multiple strikes on Afghanistan with no real clear plan of leaving that region or what our plan of success would be in the Middle East. When you know, Trump even talks about leaving Syria, he hits on a lot of broad issues and in a nutshell he says, yes, we have a trump media circus. We’re wrapped up paying attention to all the little stuff and we’re not paying attention to the big stuff, but he’s bringing up points.

Mike Papantonio:             But Mollye, it’s not just Trump. It’s Obama…

Mollye Barrows:                That was his point.

Mike Papantonio:             Obama was just as bad. Bush before him was, of course got us involved in Iraq.

Mollye Barrows:                And that was his point as well.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, look, Phil Donahue, I lay this at the feet to MSNBC because it’s so tangible there. I know this Phil Griffin cat. I know how they think. I know Ed Schultz, of course, who you know used to be the anchor on this program. He and I were dear friends and he would often talk about the idea that they would not let them be critical of military issues.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s what he was saying.

Mike Papantonio:             Just like, just like TPP issue. Ed Schultz understood how dangerous the TPP issue. He talked badly about Hillary Clinton. They wouldn’t let him do this. And so, Phil Donahue, you remember Phil Donahue?

Mollye Barrows:                I remember Phil, the original talk show host.

Mike Papantonio:             Phil Donahue was the guy that came out against Iraq, one of the few people who had enough courage around NBC. All the other NBC cats had these big maps on the floor and they were talking about embedded journalist in the, you know, they’d follow around the map. It’s the entertainment game. It keeps you focused on the little stuff in the middle. And you talk about, oh gosh, it’s poor Obama can’t stop these inmates from being waterboarded. He can’t go close Guantanamo Bay and this is what Arkin was saying that it becomes, it’s just too big for him to be able to take on some of these big problems when they’re not even addressing the real problems. Why can’t we shut down Guantanamo Bay? What are the, what is our foreign policy when it comes to Syria, Afghanistan, and the war on terrorism, what does success look like? We’re not really holding our military leaders accountable. And he was saying, and we’re not even reporting on their mistakes. Progressives to some degree, I mean the really fringe progressives, have become warmongers all because they hate Trump so much.

Mollye Barrows:                You’re right.

Mike Papantonio:             And it’s a very dangerous thing.

Mollye Barrows:                And that’s not journalism.

Mike Papantonio:             No, it’s not journalism. They are absolutely, NBC I’ll say it again, is part an extension of the military complex in this country.

Mollye Barrows:                Well, thank you Pap and thank Arkin for getting this conversations started too.

Mike Papantonio:             No question about it, he’s an interesting character. Thanks for joining me, okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.