MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle wondered Monday whether Twitter would — or should — “shut down” President Donald Trump’s social media account because he has “insulted” various individuals more than 400 times over the years.
“According to The New York Times, Trump has insulted someone via Twitter at least 487 times,” Ruhle (pictured above left) said Monday on “MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle.” The MSNBC figure then asked, “Is there a point in which Twitter says, ‘This is a violation of our ethics — we’re going to shut you down?'”
Ruhle directed her question at Recode co-founder Kara Swisher, an NBC News contributor (pictured above right).
“Funny you should say that. I’m writing about that this week in the next column,” Swisher replied. “You know, I don’t think so. I think Twitter sort of laid out the position that he’s the president, and what he says is important, and therefore we’re going to publish it.”
Although Swisher speculated that “there probably is a Rubicon” Trump “could cross” that would violate Twitter’s rules, she said that the president “hasn’t crossed it yet for Twitter, at least.”
“And it’s hard to say what it would take to do that,” Swisher added. “So the question is, will some of these social media companies, which have a lot of power, start to throttle things back?”
Ruhle’s question arose from a discussion her panel engaged concerning Trump’s Friday tweet targeting basketball star LeBron James and his recent interview with CNN host Don Lemon. Both men are black, which spurred many anti-Trump critics to label the president as a “racist” once again.
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” Trump tweeted.
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
GOP strategist Rick Tyler (pictured above, second from right) claimed that “everybody who comes into contact with Donald Trump and has pledged fealty to him seems to — they’re tarnished and tainted with that image.”
“The problem with Donald Trump is he holds old views. He holds very old views on race … and on women and the jobs of the future,” Tyler continued. “You combine all those things, and his base represents sort of the last gasp of a 19th-century mindset. We want to go into the future with ideas, new ideas, and Donald Trump represents the last gasp from the past.”
MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart (pictured above, second from left) also warned that Trump will continue to attack “people of color” as “long as it allows him to vent and he gets approval from his base.”
Ruhle’s question also came the same day YouTube and Facebook announced they had banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars content from their platforms.
Spotify and iTunes also removed Jones’ podcasts and “The Alex Jones Show” episodes from their platforms. As it so happens, Twitter has not yet chosen to ban Jones or InfoWars from its platform.
Although many conservatives denounced Jones and InfoWars, they also warned that social media platforms’ decisions to oust Jones could set a dangerous precedent for outlawing controversial or conservative voices.
“I don’t support Alex Jones and what InfoWars produces. He’s not a conservative,” Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell said Monday in a statement. “However, banning him and his outlet is wrong. It’s not just a slippery slope, it’s a dangerous cliff that these social media companies are jumping off to satisfy CNN and other liberal outlets.”
Ruhle’s question also came as ongoing discussions continue regarding social media platforms’ responsibilities to combat “fake news” and Russian attempts to infiltrate their networks as part of its interference in U.S. elections. Twitter , too, has faced accusations of “shadow-banning” conservative users — both prominent and otherwise.
What’s more, Google’s conduct raised questions last week when multiple outlets reported that the company was considering whether to create a search engine platform that catered to China’s censorship.