Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company will let users opt out of political ads and will help register 4 million voters for the 2020 election.
Zuckerberg made the announcement in an opinion piece for USA Today, in which he also discussed Facebook’s efforts to prevent election interference.
Facebook has “a responsibility not just to prevent voter suppression — which disproportionately targets people of color — but to actively support well-informed voter engagement, registration and turnout,” Zuckerberg wrote.
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Facebook will encourage people to vote and will create a Voting Information Center with election-related information, including details about voter registration, voting by mail and early voting, he said. The new feature will also show posts from state and local election authorities. The center will be at the top of Facebook’s News Feed and on Instagram.
“This work is sorely needed: we surveyed adults in the U.S. and more than half said they believe people will need more information on how to vote in November than in previous elections,” he said.
Facebook has launched similar voter registration drives in the past but nothing this ambitious. It helped register 2 million voters ahead of the 2016 election and 2 million more for the 2018 midterm elections.
While the voting center can’t be disabled, a feature will allow users to turn off political ads. It is set to begin rolling out on Facebook and Instagram on Wednesday, and it will be available to everyone within the next few weeks.
Zuckerberg also discussed his platform’s free speech policies and work to prevent election interference.
Facebook has recently come under criticism for its unwillingness to moderate and remove offensive or inaccurate information espoused by politicians, including President Donald Trump. Zuckerberg addressed the criticism, saying it’s necessary to see what politicians are saying to hold them accountable. He argued that the better way to ensure accountability is through voting.
Facebook also faced intense scrutiny for its role in the 2016 election, including its use as a tool for Russian meddling. Zuckerberg said Facebook has a responsibility to “protect the integrity of the vote itself” and admitted that the company was slow to identify foreign interference in 2016.
He said that Facebook has since built “some of the most advanced systems in the world” to protect against interference and that it has done so in more than 200 elections globally.
“The 2020 election is going to be unlike any other. It was already going to be a heated campaign, and that was before the pandemic — and before the killing of George Floyd and so many others forced us yet again to confront the painful reality of systemic racism in America,” Zuckerberg said.
Maryland GOP governor releasing book on his tenure, politics – EverythingGP
Hogan, wrote that he will begin hosting a number of virtual events and conversations with some prominent Republicans later this month. They include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Govs. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As NGA chairman, Hogan has led the group of governors amid tensions with the Trump administration in response to the pandemic. In March, for example, he criticized the administration for confusing messaging. Hogan said at the time that the president’s timeframe for a national reopening appeared to be running on a schedule made of some “imaginary clock,” as states struggled to manage hot spots of the outbreak.
Hogan also clashed with the White House in April when the governor announced a $9 million purchase of 500,000 virus test kits from South Korea. Hogan said the Trump administration had made it clear that states had to “take the lead” on testing and “do it ourselves.” Trump criticized Hogan at a White House press briefing, saying Hogan didn’t need to go to South Korea and “needed to get a little knowledge.”
In 2018, Hogan, who is term-limited, became only the second GOP governor in Maryland to be re-elected in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.
Hogan’s book will include material about his challenging first year in office, which included riots in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who suffered a spinal injury in a police van.
Later that year, Hogan was diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2015 and underwent chemotherapy. Last month, the 64-year-old governor announced he had his final, five-year anniversary PET scan, which confirmed he was still 100% cancer free.
Brian Witte, The Associated Press
When American Politics Turned Toxic – The New York Times
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party
By Julian E. Zelizer
When did American politics take the wrong turn that led to our present era of endless partisan warfare and hyperpolarization? According to the Princeton University history professor Julian E. Zelizer, politics went pear-shaped in the period from January 1987 to March 1989, when the maverick Republican representative Newt Gingrich rose to power, which culminated in the forced resignation of Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright. Zelizer makes a convincing case that Gingrich not only “legitimated ruthless and destructive practices that had once been relegated to the margins,” he also helped to degrade Congress’s institutional legitimacy and paved the way for the anti-establishment presidency of Donald Trump.
Although “Burning Down the House” is not the first history to cast Gingrich as lead assassin in the murder of bipartisanship and effective governance, it is an insightful if deeply unflattering portrait of Gingrich himself, highlighting his signature traits of arrogance, ferocity, amorality and shoulder-shrugging indifference to truth. It’s not surprising that Gingrich declined the author’s interview request. And the book’s narrow time frame, which stops well short of Gingrich’s leading the House Republicans to their 1994 electoral triumph and his subsequent elevation as speaker, supplies a detailed and nuanced historical context that makes Gingrich’s actions more understandable if not excusable.
Gingrich first won election to Congress in 1978, representing a district based mainly in the northern Atlanta suburbs. It was a transitional moment when an older generation of Southern Democrats was being displaced in Congress both by reform Democratic “Watergate babies” and a rising wave of conservative Republicans like Gingrich. Zelizer’s masterly 1998 work, “Taxing America,” focused on one of those old Southern Democrats, Wilbur Mills, who chaired the powerful House Ways and Means Committee from the 1950s through the 1970s.
[ Read an excerpt from ”Burning Down the House.” ]
Gingrich’s adversary, Jim Wright, was a Texan born in 1922, from a political generation between Mills (born in 1909) and Gingrich (born in 1943). A protégé of Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson, he was sufficiently a part of the old Southern Democratic tradition that he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But he soon regretted that vote and supported the Voting Rights Act the next year.
Zelizer’s portrait of Mills made clear that many of the old Southern Democratic committee chairmen were inclusive dealmakers concerned to reach bipartisan agreements and move legislation forward — with the glaring exception of any issue involving race. Zelizer doesn’t quite spell this out, but while Wright clearly was not a racist of the old stripe, neither was he a dealmaker of the same caliber as they were. That was partly because the post-Watergate reforms prevented the kingpins from negotiating behind closed doors, and partly because of ideological sorting within the parties. But it was also because House Democrats by the 1980s, convinced that Republicans would be permanently in the minority, regularly abused their majority power.
Democrats denied minority legislators adequate staff, excluded them from committee deliberations, gerrymandered their districts and even, Republicans were convinced, stole elections. Wright piously recorded in his diary that Republicans were making it impossible to “rely upon the gentlemen’s rules which have prevailed for all of my 30 years in Congress,” but the speaker broke plenty of norms himself with his parliamentary rule-bending. And despite the Watergate babies’ desire to remove money from politics, the Democrats did little to halt the stream of funds from lobbyists, private money and special interests that flowed principally to the majority party.
Those to whom evil is done do evil in return. Democratic bullying made moderate Republicans willing to empower Gingrich — their support was critical to his election as minority whip in 1989 over a more conciliatory candidate — and to tolerate his scorched-earth tactics. Gingrich insisted that the only way to end the Democrats’ four-decades-long majority was for Republicans to destroy Congress in order to save it. They would have to “put aside their concern for governance until they regained power,” according to Zelizer. They would seek to persuade the public that Congress had become “morally, intellectually and spiritually corrupt,” in Gingrich’s words, and to overthrow Speaker Wright as the embodiment of that illegitimate establishment. In pursuit of these ends all means were permissible, including the shattering of traditional customs, the destruction of opponents’ reputations and the embrace of maneuvers long held to be off-limits, like shutting down the government.
Zelizer argues that Gingrich made the media unwitting accomplices to his partisan crusade, just as the unscrupulous anti-Communist demagogue Joseph McCarthy had done in the 1950s. “The number-one fact about the news media,” Gingrich observed, “is they love fights.” By provoking confrontations with the Democrats, Gingrich would gain media attention — even more so when he succeeded in goading the Democrats into retaliation, which he portrayed as further evidence of their tyranny. The Woodward-and-Bernstein-inspired influx of young investigative reporters into Washington, most of them educated and well intentioned but ignorant of the practical operation of politics, offered a decisive opportunity for Gingrich, who “instinctively grasped the possibilities for taking advantage of their idealism.”
Zelizer sees Gingrich’s “masterstroke” as the co-option of reform-oriented institutions that, in Watergate’s wake, were supposed to make government more accountable and progressive. The ethics charges that Gingrich brought against Wright were, in Zelizer’s view, mostly spurious. But scandal-seeking journalists served Gingrich’s cause by churning out so many thinly sourced stories about Wright’s supposedly shady involvement with Texas oil executives and bankers that the leading good-government organization, Common Cause, felt compelled to call upon the House Ethics Committee to investigate him. This instantly transformed what otherwise would have seemed “a shabby partisan coup” into a respectable campaign, giving cover to Republicans who previously were reluctant to enlist in Gingrich’s vendetta and undercutting Wright’s Democratic defenders. From then it was just a matter of time until Wright was forced out.
Zelizer provides a moving description of Wright’s farewell address, in which the resigning speaker decried the “mindless cannibalism” that had overtaken politics, and he delivers an eloquent indictment of all those responsible for Wright’s downfall. These include Gingrich, of course, along with the journalists and good-government organizations he made his patsies. But they also include the Democrats who failed to stand by Wright, thus incentivizing Republicans “to ramp up their efforts and engage in even more brutal fights,” and Wright himself, who couldn’t adapt to a new era of partisan warfare.
Zelizer reserves some of his harshest verdicts for the Republican Party leaders who naïvely believed they could harness Gingrich’s insurgency. He acidly observes that while Republican gatekeepers of the early 1950s used McCarthy to attack their opponents, they never made the renegade senator their leader. Many, perhaps most of the Republicans of the Gingrich era deplored what the minority leader Bob Michel called “trashing the institution.” But Republicans who upheld reasoned opposition, bipartisan compromise, civil discourse and mutual respect deceived themselves about their ability to control the revolution and ended up being devoured by it. To quote the Talking Heads song that shares the title of this book, “Watch out — you might get what you’re after.”
Many social scientists believe that the partisan polarization that now afflicts us was all but inevitable, a byproduct of geographic and ideological sorting that led to more consistently ideological parties. If Newt Gingrich hadn’t pursued no-holds-barred partisan warfare, according to this line of thinking, someone else would have. But Zelizer forcefully counters that this view “denies agency to the politicians and leaders who pushed partisan combat into a deeper abyss at very specific moments.” The battle to overthrow Wright, he concludes, was one of those critical turning points “from which Washington never recovered.”
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