Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted "secretive talks" and off-the-record dinners with conservative figures in recent months, reports Politico's Daniel Lippman. Among the delights were discussions of "free speech and partnerships" with nationalist Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally.
As part of the series, Zuckerberg met earlier this year with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who insinuated that Facebook had become a monopoly during a congressional hearing last year; Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has fingered Zuckerberg as contributing to "the death of free speech in America"; and conservative radio talk host Hugh Hewitt, who has cautioned against a DOJ enforcement action but has called for a "new regulatory regime" to minimize "big tech bias" against conservatives.
It puts into context his (and now Facebook's) recent attacks on Democratic presidential front-runner Elizabeth Warren. Conservative threats to Facebook are part of an effort to co-opt its influence over users and other media. But progressives will follow through on regulation or breaking up its monopoly. Zuckerberg's supplication to conservative politicians and media will, therefore, evolve into urgent support as the next election approaches.