Muslims go to Mecca, at least once. Catholics, well, we have smorgasbord of holy sites. Lourdes. Fatima. The Vatican. For Judaism, it is the Western Wall. To my Jewish friends, hurry, before political correctness leads to a ‘prayer space‘ and other politically correct zones of worship. For the non-believers, you may not agree, but you too have places you visit when in need of a recharge. Pilgrimages are important aspects of a culture or people. You’re embarking on a spiritual quest. While you want to arrive there, it’s the journey that matters. It is more than a vacation, or should be. While most are religious in nature, there are political pilgrimages too.
Every American should visit Washington, DC at least once; and the cherry blossom festival does not count! New York, Philly, Boston, and, yes, the great Commonwealth of Virginia, have their share of important places seminal in the formation of our great republic. If political parties are your thing, you have several presidential libraries as well as the, some, reputed birthplaces of the major political parties.
As far as political pilgrimages go, Menlo Park would not rank. Menlo Park, what’s that? Facebook’s corporate hometown. And just last week, a crew of conservative pilgrims embarked on political pilgrimage to visit with its leader. The group was comprised of #NeverTrump Republicans and moderate conservatives. Judging from their pre-meeting social media and post-meeting commentary, these whirling dervishes of the conservative movement had spun one time too many.
By agreeing to this odd meeting, you ruined a perfectly good oversight matter for Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) who a few days earlier had sent Mark Zuckerberg a series of pointed questions over allegations by a potential whistleblower that Facebook had, among other things, created an algorithm with an anti-conservative bias. I’ve embedded Senator Thune’s letter at the end of this post.
Legally, there is not much there for Facebook to concern itself over. They can, if they want to, make Facebook the Left Wing’s darling communication tool and there is not much Congress can, or should, do about it. I’m not convinced that Facebook is a “free” service. Collecting user click and view habits has value, value Facebook trades on the marketplace. But that is subject for another day. My point is that this meeting was all about politics and Senator Thune, rightly so, was shining a spot light on a company that does not want political controversies.
As CPAC President Matt Schlapp reminded people last week, Facebook has been “agitating against conservatives and conservative policies” for a very long time. Stand your ground man (and woman). Why afford an ideological enemy of the right any face time, much less on his own terms in a secret meeting? The fact is that Facebook needs conservatives a whole lot more than conservatives need Facebook. It was a potential teaching moment for the right, and this non-representative sample of conservatives, blew it. The only member of the group who I think made the trek for personal amusement, and as a reporter, was Tucker Carlson. So he gets a pass in my book.
Why the heck would any conservative muddle Thune’s or a Republican Congress’s messaging? Ego. Vanity. Clicks of their own? Likely all the above. All reasons that most of these good people should take a pilgrimage to Manhattan for a heavy does of raw capitalism. Trump Tower would have been a more proper venue, assuming that such a meeting was even needed. It was not. This trek was a Facebook publicity stunt designed as a political whitewashing that was made possible by a group of mostly moderate Republicans. You should be meeting with Donald Trump, but that’s a story for another day.