MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, NYT’s Kara Swisher complain about Facebook’s impact on the media: It ‘ruined our business’

MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd and New York Times contributor Kara Swisher bashed Facebook and its impact on the media industry. 

“I’m struggling to find the good that Facebook ever provided,” Todd kicked off the conversation on Wednesday’s “Meet the Press: Daily” amid the revelations from former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen. “Is Facebook recoverable and what would that look like?”

Swisher argued that it was recoverable, saying “lots of stuff on the internet” that are useful and positive but that Facebook has gotten “so big and so unregulated that they’re not compelled to do anything they don’t want.”

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“As you said, It’s as big as an economy. It’s a country,” Swisher said. “With 3 billion people, they’re not monitoring it correctly. And at the very top, we have someone who is unfireable, unaccountable and really can do whatever he wants and is spectacularly unsuited to the task.”

“I guess that’s the thing,” Todd responded. “There’s a feel of powerlessness to all of this here. You know, I look at what it has done to just the industry that I’m in, the industry you and I are in the world of media and journalism. You know, Facebook essentially changed the incentive structure and particularly for smaller news outlets, they have no choice but to essentially follow the Facebook algorithm in order to maintain traffic, which created this death spiral of news consumption.”

“Yeah, I think one of the interesting things is that a lot of tech people are like, ‘You are mad at us because you ruined our business.’ We’re like, ‘You ruined everything,’” Swisher said. “You decimated it.”

MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) -- Moderator Chuck Todd appears on Meet the Press" in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC)

MEET THE PRESS — Pictured: (l-r) — Moderator Chuck Todd appears on Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC)
(William B. Plowman/NBC)

Todd interjected, “By the way, I don’t mind our business being ruined, Kara. We don’t mind. Create or destruction. Ruin my business but make it better. You ruined the business and made it worse.”

Swisher agreed, saying Facebook “doesn’t care” what is shared on the platform whether it’s “cat pictures or journalism.”

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The “Sway” podcast host went on to say that “we kind of owe” former President Trump a “debt of gratitude” because his “bad behavior” on social media platforms proved they had no control since he was able to “run around and do whatever he wants and there’s no enforcement.”

“I’m not even blaming Facebook. I’m blaming Congress for not doing anything,” Swisher told Todd. “Other nations have done things, other states have done things but our Congress still has not. Now, there’s some great legislation coming and if they pass it, that would be fantastic. There’s bipartisan support and they just have to get it through. You know, even though they can’t agree on lunch, they could probably agree on this.”

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Journalist Kara Swisher conducts an interview with Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during LeadOn:Watermark's Silicon Valley Conference For Women at Santa Clara Convention Center on February 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for LeadOn:Watermark's Silicon Valley Conference for Women)

SANTA CLARA, CA – FEBRUARY 24:  Journalist Kara Swisher conducts an interview with Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during LeadOn:Watermark’s Silicon Valley Conference For Women at Santa Clara Convention Center on February 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for LeadOn:Watermark’s Silicon Valley Conference for Women)
(Getty Images)

The MSNBC anchor expressed his support for a “digital Bill of Rights” that “just never happened.” He then asked Swisher what exactly “we should be regulating.”

Swisher stressed it’s “lots of different laws” that range from transparency, hacking, data use, Section 230 to mergers and anti-trust legislation. 

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She went on to say “it’s probably a smart thing” for the Facebook company to under its name change since several divisions like Oculus and WhatsApp fall under the umbrella and that a new CEO could be appointed to the “big blue app” while its current CEO Mark Zuckerberg can be given “Mount Olympus” role.

“The problem remains though that he is completely in control of everything because of the way they do stock,” Swisher said. “So no matter what, he and his children and his children’s children are in charge of this thing for eternity.”

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