Facebook says the ad violates its policies on violence and incitement while Twitter blocked the video from being shared.
Facebook has removed a campaign video by Republican Missouri US Senate candidate Eric Greitens that shows him brandishing a shotgun and declaring that he is hunting RINOs, an acronym that stands for Republicans In Name Only.
RINO is a term of derision that former President Donald Trump and his allies use to label moderate or establishment Republicans.
In the video campaign advertisement on Monday, Greitens, a former Missouri governor who resigned in disgrace in 2018, is flanked by an armed tactical unit outside a home on a tree-lined street as he whispers: “The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice”.
The armed tactical team then breaks through the front door and throws what appear to be flash-bang grenades inside. Greitens enters an empty living room through the smoke and says, “Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit and it doesn’t expire until we save our country”.
Facebook said the video was removed “for violating our policies prohibiting violence and incitement”.
Twitter said Greitens’s post violated its rules on abusive behaviour but was leaving it up because it was in the “public’s interest” for the tweet to be viewable. Twitter’s move prevented the post from being shared any further.
Greitens responded by saying “Big Tech” — a term Trump frequently used in reference to large technological companies — were “meddling” in elections and “putting their thumb on the scale”.
“When I’m U.S. Senator, I will fight against the disgusting tech oligarchs from stealing any more elections,” he wrote on Twitter.
The video comes at a time of renewed focus on violence in politics following fatal mass shootings and threats to government officials.
Two weeks ago, a man carrying a gun, a knife and zip ties was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house after threatening to kill the justice.
Around the same time, a gunman killed a retired county judge in Wisconsin before fatally shooting himself, and he had a list that included the names of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.
On Sunday, Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of two Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, said he recently received a letter at his home threatening “to execute me, as well as my wife and 5-month-old child”.
Greitens is among the Republican candidates in a highly competitive August 2 primary to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Roy Blunt. The provocative advertisement appeared as Greitens looks to improve his standing in the polls, boost lacklustre fundraising, and move past graphic allegations of domestic abuse made in a sworn affidavit filed by his ex-wife in March in their child custody case.
Other candidates in the Senate race also condemned the video. Republican state Senator Dave Schatz called it “completely irresponsible”.
“That’s why I’m running. It’s time to restore sanity and reject this nonsense. Missouri deserves better,” Schatz said in a tweet.
— Dave Schatz (@DaveSchatzMO) June 20, 2022
Greitens’s campaign dismissed the outrage that erupted over the new advertisement.
“If anyone doesn’t get the metaphor, they are either lying or dumb,” campaign manager Dylan Johnson said in a statement.
Once a swing state, Missouri has become more reliably Republican in recent years.
But the Senate race is nonetheless receiving national attention because some in the Republican establishment are anxious that Greitens would be vulnerable against a Democrat in November. With the Senate evenly divided, the Republican party cannot afford to lose what would otherwise be a safe seat.
Can’t comment on NewsClick’s China link, respect media freedom: US
The US government has seen reports of NewsClick’s alleged links to China and is aware of concerns around it though it can’t independently comment on the veracity of those claims. But, as a general principle, the US continues to urge Indian government as well other governments across the world to respect the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression online and offline.
At a regular State Department briefing on Tuesday, when asked about the raids on the proprietors, staffers and contributors of NewsClick and a New York Times report that the news website was a part of a Chinese influence operation funded through an American businessman, State department‘s principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, “So we are aware of those concerns and have seen that reporting about this outlet’s ties to the PRC (People’s Republic of China), but we can’t comment yet on the veracity of those claims.”
Patel added that, separately, the US strongly supported “the robust role of the media globally, including social media, in a vibrant and free democracy”.
“We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian Government, with countries around the world, through our diplomatic engagements that are, of course, at the core of our bilateral relationship. And we have urged the Indian Government, and have done so not just with India but other countries as well, about the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression both online and offline.”
Patel, however, said that he did not have any additional information about “this particular circumstance or any of the underlying issues that may or may not be related to this outlet”.
India’s Latest Media Arrests Put Washington in an Awkward Spot
(Bloomberg) — India’s latest media crackdown puts the US in an awkward position as it seeks to balance promotion of human rights with courting New Delhi to counter the influence of China.
Police in the South Asian country’s capital arrested the editor-in-chief and another employee of online newspaper NewsClick Tuesday under sweeping anti-terrorism laws. Authorities also raided the offices of the publication, without giving a reason.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been targeting critical independent media since he took office in 2014. NewsClick came to prominence in 2021 for its extensive coverage of farmer protests against government plans to liberalize agriculture. India has previously accused the media organization of having funding ties to China, which it denies.
For Arati Jerath, a New Delhi-based political analyst, the arrests create a challenge for Washington.
“The US does not want to get too involved in India’s domestic affairs,” she said. “They are looking at India through a geopolitical prism and with China in the picture, India is a strategic partner.”
US Department of State spokesman Vedant Patel said he couldn’t comment yet on claims NewsClick has ties to China.
Patel also stressed the importance of press freedom globally. “We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian government, with countries around the world,” he told reporters in Washington.
India has often argued its democracy and vibrant press are a counterpoint to China with its one-party state and heavily controlled media. The US frequently finds itself torn between its efforts to defend human rights around the world and the pragmatic need to partner with governments accused of rights abuses.
India’s government has often used its anti-terrorism law to intimidate and punish journalists. The law, which doesn’t allow for bail, empowers the police to detain suspects for years without leveling official charges.
India has also scrutinized many mobile app and technology companies for alleged links to China after a Himalayan border clash between New Delhi and Beijing in 2020.
In 2021, authorities raided NewsClick’s office and the homes of seven staff members for what they described as improper foreign investments. Several of them were questioned and NewsClick called the allegations “misleading, unfounded and without basis in fact or law.”
In August, the New York Times cited NewsClick as an organization allegedly being used for Chinese propaganda overseas. India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said at the time the media outlet was being funded by Beijing.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Thakur said he didn’t need to justify the raids. “If someone has done something wrong, the investigative agencies will work on it,” he said.
NewClick’s human resources head Amit Chakravarty was also arrested. Several employees’ laptops and mobile phones were seized. Local media reported at least 30 premises were raided, including the homes of six NewsClick reporters.
India fell to 161st of 180 countries and territories in a press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, a press advocacy group, this year. In February, authorities raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi, weeks after the British broadcaster aired a documentary about Modi’s role in 2002 riots in his home state of Gujarat.
Last year, Mohammad Zubair, a journalist running a fact-checking website, Alt News, was arrested after highlighting anti-Islamic comments made by former BJP officials.
The Press Club of India expressed concern about the arrests and raid, saying it wants the government to explain its actions. The group plans to protest the detentions at a march Wednesday.
Jerath, the analyst, questioned India’s move to arrest the people under the terrorism law without providing details or evidence.
“You have already labeled them as terrorists,” she said.
(Updates with details on the crackdown. An earlier story corrected paragraph 11 to show authorities raided the homes of seven NewsClick staff members in 2021.)
What is NewsClick? A look at India’s media crackdown – Al Jazeera English
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