White House disinvites right-wing cartoonist from summit on social media bias due to his, er, political viewpoint

The point of the summit, I thought, was to provide an official Trump-sanctioned forum for righties to complain about being marginalized by social media behemoths like Facebook and Twitter for their political views.

So here’s the White House turning around and marginalizing one of the invitees for his political views.

The cartoonist is Ben Garrison, whose work you’ve doubtless seen if you use Twitter or Facebook. He’s … libertarian in his worldview, I guess? Alt-right? I don’t know. He’s emphatically anti-“globalist,” prone to cartoonish (in every sense) depictions of Trump’s heroic alpha-maleness, and ever eager to tie the world’s problems back to George Soros. He was excited about his invite to the social media summit…


…but others were less excited:

The Jewish Rothschilds puppeteering the Jewish Soros puppeteering interventionist military leaders is some next-level, ah, “anti-globalist” propaganda. Upon learning that Garrison was on the invite list, Jewish groups began reaching out to the White House to ask what’s up. With the summit set for tomorrow and Trump about to take a black eye from critics if he didn’t rescind Garrison’s invitation, the president and his staff had to make a decision.

That decision came this morning: Deplatform.

THE WHITE HOUSE told us last night that Ben Garrison, the cartoonist who drew this cartoon that has been widely labeled anti-Semitic, will no longer be attending the administration’s social media summit. As of Tuesday morning, Garrison was invited — he posted the invite he got on Twitter — and people in the administration were privately defending the invitation…

WE THEN started asking questions directly of people who have hailed Trump as a leader quashing anti-Semitism: Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and members of Congress. Greenblatt, Kushner and his spokesman Avi Berkowitz did not respond. It was then that a senior administration official told us that Garrison would no longer be attending the event. Members of the House Republican leadership — Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise and Liz Cheney — denounced anti-Semitic imagery.

Garrison issued a statement admitting that he’s “disappointed” but framing the decision to exclude him as a sort of mutual agreement:

He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email, however, that he “got kicked out.” If the Rothschilds cartoon had been his only controversial output, maybe the White House would have let him slide. But Garrison cranks out off-the-wall stuff all the time, if rarely quite as fragrant as the cartoon Tapper cited. Some of his lowlights on John McCain include Maverick on his way to hell, with a headstone marked “Songbird,” and a tumor being removed from Uncle Sam’s skull with McCain’s face on it. I’m guessing some White House advisor spent an hour or two tooling around on his webpage, realized that they’d spend the next week being asked to account for various dubious Garrison images, and decided it wasn’t worth the bother.

The Free Beacon’s Alex Griswold made me laugh with this tweet this morning, but it’s not really a joke. It makes a trenchant point.


The White House isn’t the only right-wing outfit that’s been policing its associations for prejudice:

“[C]razy that two separate events in the same week complaining about social media bans ended up bringing in bigots,” he sniffed. Right. The Garrison snafu is a microcosm of the logic of content moderation: If you extend a truly open invitation to the world to use your property to share its views, you’ll find that property quickly overrun by obnoxious garbage. The White House couldn’t book a single event about social media featuring a handpicked, limited number of voices without stumbling into that problem, it turns out. Forced to choose between honoring the spirit of the First Amendment’s ban on viewpoint discrimination and enjoying the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of association, the White House chose the latter — even though, again, the entire point of this confab is to let people kvetch that social media companies are prioritizing their own association rights over their users’ interest in free speech.

Why should some social media company be required to filter political content with “neutrality” when Trump’s own outfit won’t do it? You’re stuck arguing here that Facebook and Twitter are more the equivalent of public parks, open to everyone without conditions, than a small invitation-only meeting, where the First Amendment doesn’t apply. But that’s a poor argument to make when the meeting is being run by the seat of the executive branch, a bona fide state actor which obviously could choose not to exercise viewpoint discrimination if it liked. And it’s a poor analogy in that Facebook and Twitter have never been open to everyone “without conditions.” You accept the terms of use when you sign up for an account, just like you agree to a venue’s terms of use when you buy a ticket to an event. Either way, the White House had an opportunity to lead by example by shrugging off Garrison’s “Rothschilds” cartoon and insisting that the spirit of free speech required that they maintain his invite. Instead they validated the social media companies’ most basic claim, that some views are too ugly to host.

Exit question: Which person has Trump met with personally, the (now former) British ambassador to the UK or “CarpeDonktum,” master lib-trolling meme-maker? The answer may surprise you! But it probably won’t.