A month after Facebook sponsored an inauguration party with conservative website The Daily Caller, the social network shows no sign of slowing down its budding romance with the American right. Last night, The Daily Beast reported that Facebook is sponsoring the Conservative Political Action Conference, which begins today. CPAC is a yearly event, celebrating some of the most revolting ideas in American political discourse. It’s a festival of bile, with hundreds of hard-right creeps descending on the Gaylord National Harbor south of Washington DC to discuss the threat posed to the US by leftism, immigration, and the continued non-alive-ness of Ronald Reagan.
Like many events of this size, CPAC has corporate sponsors. This year, as in previous years, those sponsors include Facebook, which will reportedly be providing $120,000 in cash and in-kind donations to the event. The world’s largest social network will also be participating in three panels, including one that promises to “help you better reach and connect with voters on Facebook” and another with the Leadership Institute, which trains young conservative activists. The Leadership Institute once employed famed shit-stirrer James O’Keefe, where he recruited college conservatives as a student publications coordinator. Facebook will also sponsor a happy hour with Townhall Media, another hateful, dumb, pro-Trump outlet.
But what really raises eyebrows is one particularly vile CPAC panel that just begs to be noticed: “If Heaven Has a Gate, A Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” A great question, and I am now a conservative through the awesome power of logic.
This panel makes Facebook’s sponsorship of CPAC particularly inexplicable. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized the executive order that required “extreme vetting” of refugees, saying in a Facebook post, “We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That’s who we are.” Facebook was among the tech companies that signed onto an amicus brief opposing the executive order, as well as an open letter condemning it.
The company is also strongly in favor of reforming the H-1B visa and green card programs that allow it to hire foreign workers. With good reason: more than 15 percent of Facebook employees are on H-1Bs, which are difficult and expensive to obtain. Mark Zuckerberg founded a non-profit advocacy group on immigration, FWD.us, which supports a pathway to citizenship and increased numbers of visas for guest workers, and reportedly started with a war chest of $50 million.
Facebook didn’t respond to our request for comment, but told the Daily Beast that its $120,000 gift wasn’t an endorsement of the far-right views of CPAC:
“Facebook participates in events hosted by organizations across the political spectrum,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “Our presence allows us to facilitate an open dialogue where people can share their views and create content to engage their audiences, just as we did during other political events such as the Republican and Democratic Party conventions. Our involvement is not an endorsement of any particular position or platform.”
It’s hard to understand how its sponsorship lets the company “facilitate an open dialogue,” and what it would expect anyone to get out of that dialogue—a better understanding of just how Christian it is to turn away refugees? Facebook spends millions lobbying each year on issues that include H-1B visas and temporary worker programs, which are widely loathed by conservatives of the CPAC ilk, but somehow it’s also worth undermining that by spending $120,000 on teaching conservatives how to use Facebook to achieve their horrible policy goals?
Whether or not Facebook says it’s endorsing a particular platform by sponsoring this event, actions speak louder than words, and money speaks louder still.