Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 20, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Big Brother Facebook has claimed another conservative page in its purge of right-of-center content.
On Monday evening, the La Crosse County Republican Party learned that the social network giant had turned the lights out on its Facebook page — just two weeks before the November election.
“This page isn’t allowed to advertise because it has repeatedly posted content that has been debunked by third-party fact-checkers,” Facebook content cops wrote on the party’s page. “This behavior means the page hasn’t complied with our Misinformation Advertising Policy, which is a requirement for advertising on Facebook.”
So the $745.50 the La Crosse GOP spent on Facebook ads over the past couple of months have been disabled and it can’t create or run new ads, Facebook’s gatekeepers declared.
What was the local party’s egregious crime? Bill Feehan, chairman of the La Crosse County Republican Party, believes the page was censored because it posted an interview with President Donald Trump attorney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In the video, Giuliani discusses the bombshell emails that appear to show what conservatives have long contended: That Joe Biden’s derelict son, Hunter, made a mint off of his name and proximity to then-Vice President Joe Biden, now the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
Facebook and Twitter were widely criticized by President Trump, conservative allies and information freedom groups after blocking or limiting the distribution of the New York Post’s expose into the Bidens based on the emails found on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. Giuliani reportedly supplied the Post with a hard drive of the emails.
“I am absolutely shocked right now,” Feehan told Empower Wisconsin Monday night. “I view our First Amendment rights as foundational to our democracy.”
But as the law stands, the liberal social networks, despite their immense and, many say, abusive power to decide which content to keep or kill, doesn’t have to abide by the same access requirements as other media players.
Feehan, who has been chairman of the La Crosse County GOP since 2011, says Facebook is one of the principal forums the party has to get the word out about Republican candidates. That channel has disappeared with just two weeks before key elections in the La Crosse area, as well as the presidential contest, he said.
“It could influence the outcome of the election. They’re interfering,” Feehan said of Facebook.
The 94th Assembly District, pitting Dem entrenched incumbent Steve Doyle against Republican challenger Kevin Hoyer. Feehan says the race is close, and the margin of victory could be “razor thin.” Facebook’s decision to shut down the La Crosse County GOP’s advertising could bolster Doyle’s chances in the competitive contest, Feehan said.
The La Crosse County Republican Facebook page is one of the most active political sites in a 3rd Congressional District that helped win battleground Wisconsin for Trump in 2016. While La Crosse County stayed blue, it was sandwiched by western Wisconsin counties that went decidedly red. The 3rd Congressional District is seen as a critical piece for a repeat performance by Trump.
Feehan said he believes Facebook has “systematically been targeting” the GOP page for months. He said the page’s reach has been down, and it’s not because La Crosse County conservatives are less passionate about next month’s election.
“I’m 60 years old. Very few things shock me,” the chairman said. “I’ve seen more crap than most people could believe, but this truly shocked me. It goes right to the heart of democracy.”