President Donald Trump on Thursday held a summit at the White House in which he invited dozens of conservative social media celebrities, railed against what he called bias and censorship against the right by major social media platforms, and vowed action against Silicon Valley, per Politico.
During his remarks, the president raised eyebrows for a particular comment that he made about free speech.
“To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad,” the president said, as quoted by New York magazine. “To me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”
Many on Twitter scratched their heads, at the president appearing to argue that negative or critical writing somehow isn’t actually free speech, especially at an event in which free speech of controversial political speakers was being defended.
“In related news, the ghost of Alexander Hamilton just asked Aaron Burr to shoot him again,” Krown City King joked on Twitter.
“‘Right. ‘Free speech’ is when everyone agrees with him. Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” musician-turned-activist Jon “Bowser” Bauman tweeted.
Trump also said at the event that he will pursue “regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free speech rights of all Americans. Per Politico, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee declared that she will pursue such measures in the U.S. Senate, with the Senate Judiciary Committee convening a special task force for that purpose.
None of the tech companies were invited to the White House for the meeting, but the president plans to meet with representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other firms soon. Trump, per Wired, met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in April, and spent much of the meeting complaining that, due to bot purges, his follower count had dropped on that social networking platform.
A ruling on Twitter-blocking is likely to reverberate beyond the Trump administration. The court warned that any elected official using a social media account "for all manner of official purposes" and then excluding critics violates free speech. https://t.co/73IIN2YgkN
— AP Eastern US (@APEastRegion) July 9, 2019
Among those in attendance were pro-Trump tweeter Bill Mitchell, Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe, Diamond and Silk, former Whtie House aide Sebastian Gorka, Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, and the conservative meme maker known as @CarpeDonktum.
What the White House called the social media summit was not without controversy. Ben Garrison, a pro-Trump cartoonist who often draws comic strips of the president with large, exaggerated muscles, was disinvited from the event after he came under fire for previous cartoons that were condemned as anti-Semitic, per The Inquisitr.
Meanwhile, the conservative journalist Laura Loomer complained loudly that she wasn’t invited to the summit, per Jezebel.