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Acosta can’t manipulate head of Facebook Oversight Board: ‘You’re saying the same thing over and over’

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CNN’s Jim Acosta, the primadonna celebrity reporter who made his name by clashing repeatedly with former President Donald Trump, was rewarded for that performance by being given a weekend gig as anchor of “CNN Newsroom.”

On Sunday’s show, Acosta had as a guest Thomas Hughes, Director of the Facebook Oversight Board Administration and, proving his Trump Derangement Syndrome is as strong as ever, the CNN host tried his level best to get Hughes to agree that the former president would incite “more violence” if allowed back on the social media platform.

The board recently upheld Facebook’s decision to ban Trump from posting after the Jan. 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol but said the Big Tech giant must review the penalty again in six months, as opposed to an indefinite suspension.

Apparently disappointed with Trump not being permanently banned, Acosta characterized that decision as a “punt,” asking: “Isn’t the board’s job to make these tough decisions?”

“The board didn’t punt this issue at all,” Hughes said, calling their action a “clear and strong decision.” He further noted Trump’s suspension “was necessary to keep people safe,” claiming his posts on Jan. 6 “were encouraging and legitimatizing violence and therefore were a severe violation.”

(Video: CNN)

“At the same time, the board has clearly said that an indefinite suspension is not consistent with national human rights standards and that its rules have to be clear, consistent, and transparent,” Hughes continued. “And the failure to have rules that are clear, consistent, and transparent will have a chilling effect long term on the freedom of expression.”

Questioning whether that means Trump will not be permanently suspended, Acosta countered Hughes’ repeated concern about such a decision having a chilling effect on free expression to say, “Insurrection can have a chilling effect on democracy.”

Insurrection being the media buzzword to describe the riot at the Capitol in the worst possible light.

“You are not just talking about regulating any Tom, Dick or Harry out there. You are talking about somebody who incited an insurrection,” Acosta declared, stating opinion as fact.

Clearly concerned that Trump may possibly be reinstated at some point, the CNN host asked Hughes if he believes Facebook “would be responsible if his rhetoric led to more violence.”

“Facebook has to take responsibility for the actions, and the penalties that it lays out for different violations of its community standards,” Hughes replied. “And what the board is saying to Facebook is that it needs more clarity and consistency in doing that and, at the moment, is failing in that regard.”

Not getting the response he apparently wanted, Acosta pressed on this issue.

“If you give Trump the green light to be back on Facebook, wouldn’t you be responsible if he goes about lying about the election again and incites more violence in this country? Wouldn’t you, sir, be responsible, in part, for that?” he asked.

Hughes deferred to Facebook, prompting Acosta to question him saying the board’s decisions are binding. Hughes again spoke about consistency.

“You understand the question I am asking,” he said. “This is not just anybody. This is somebody who incited an insurrection. This is somebody who is still lying about the election.”

Acosta again made it personal, asking, “So, if the board gives him the green light to get back on Facebook and Facebook goes along with that, what I am asking you, sir, is would that make Facebook, and the board, and you in particular, sir, responsible if Trump’s rhetoric leads to more violence in this country?”

Ratcheting up the drama, he added, “I know you are in London, but you have to appreciate, this may feel a little bit different here on the other side of the Atlantic.”

“Of course,” Hughes replied, further explaining their decision. “The board has made a clear set of recommendations looking forward, which are to apply quite a detailed test that actually take into consideration the potential for harm. They are looking at issues like incitement to discrimination or violence or lawless action.”

Acosta went back to the question for a fourth and fifth time, desperately trying to get Hughes to acknowledge that Facebook and the board would bear responsibility for a hypothetical that he drove into the ground — which is that Trump would incite violence if reinstated.

“You are saying the same thing over and over again,” he told Hughes.

“I have to take it from what you are responding to this question with, that Facebook and the oversight board would not be responsible if Trump were to continue to lie about the election and there were to be more violence,” Acosta concluded. “I don’t mean to cut you off but I have asked you that question three or four times and you haven’t answered the question yes or no.”

Tom Tillison

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