Facebook Trending Editor Ben Wagner: ‘What Is An Extremist, Exactly?’


How liberal is Facebook? The company is facing two lawsuits owing to its well-documented bias against conservatives on the one hand and its alleged softness to Palestinian terrorists on the other.

In the first of a multi-part series, we’re going to shine a spotlight on the political views of Facebook’s Trending News Team, a group that caused scandal in May after it emerged that topics of interest to conservatives were being suppressed on the site’s feature.

The buck stops at the top, so that’s where we’ll start: with Facebook’s managing editor of Trending News, Benjamin Wagner, a man whose views on counter-terrorism are likely to prove particularly worrying to the Israelis currently suing the company.

Wagner keeps his political views to himself, for the most part. Given that he was formerly a Senior Vice President at MTV news, keeping a low profile was probably wise. Unlike the pundits who work for them, corporate executives at mainstream media companies are usually expected to avoid political controversy. Yet dig a little into Wagner’s web history, and his political leanings become obvious.

Wagner readily admits to being an ardent opponent of President George W. Bush (we can only imagine how he feels about Trump). In 2007 he wrote that even on September 11, 2001, he maintained the belief that the Bush Administration was “the most dangerously inept group of politicians in the history of this country.”

This doesn’t immediately identify Wagner as a liberal, of course, nor as anyone with particularly outlandish opinions. Many Trump supporters would agree with his views. What comes next, however, is a commentary on one of the former President’s speeches that reveals some more unconventional views on the nature of terrorism and the war on terror.

After mocking the then-President for “prattling on about freedom,” Wagner objected to his use of the word “extremist.” Wagner joked that he had been “humming the National Anthem” throughout Bush’s speech.

“What is an ‘extremist,’ exactly?” wrote Wagner.

(Presumably, the Israeli groups currently suing Facebook have some idea of this, given that extremists fire rockets at them on a regular basis.)

In the same blog post, he objected to the idea that the war against Islamic terrorism was, as Bush said, the “decisive ideological struggle of our time.”

“Is it?” wrote Wagner. “Christianity versus, what? Dark skinned, tan guys in turbans? Guys with oil? Guys who talk funny?”

(The idea that Bush was fighting against Islamic terrorists on behalf of Christianity was a popular liberal myth at the time.)

Beyond his views on Islamic terrorism, there are other tell-tale signs that identify Wagner’s political views, from the oh-so-predictable rainbow filter profile picture on Facebook to his list of “likes” — a string of liberal news outlets including Vox, BuzzFeed, and The Daily Show, but no sign of any conservative ones.

Wagner is a liberal — and that would be fine, of course, if virtually every member of his team weren’t also liberals. Furthermore, by comparison to others on the trending news team, he’s one of the moderate ones.

Just wait until our next article. You’ll see what we mean.

Allum Bokhari is a reporter for Breitbart. He can be followed on Twitter at @LibertarianBlue. Milo Yiannopoulos is a senior editor for Breitbart. He can be followed at @Nero. Email them at abokhari@breitbart.com and milo@breitbart.com


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