Back to the Future for the AT&T-Time Warner Merger

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U.S. District Judge Richard Leon recently greenlighted the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, while failing to impose any conditions or restrictions upon the massive media consolidation.

The merger, about which reports have circulated since late 2016, was publicly opposed by President Donald Trump as well as by the Department of Justice, which in the fall of 2017 went to court to stop the transaction.

After a six-week trial, Judge Leon ruled that the merger could move ahead, belittling the government’s legal arguments.

In an unusual expression for a jurist, Leon, who also presided over the Comcast-NBC-U mega-merger in 2011, went so far as to urge the government not to appeal the decision.

Antitrust law exists to prevent monopolies that could potentially stifle competition and harm consumers. When the same company owns the means of media production as well as the means of distribution of media content, antitrust issues arise.

This is not the first time that media companies have been met with legal challenges over simultaneous ownership of content and the means by which the content is delivered. In the 1940s, Hollywood studios produced motion pictures while owning the theaters in which the very films were being displayed.

In a 1948 decision, United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled that Hollywood studios would be required to sell off movie theater holdings.

The landmark decision essentially ended the studio system of the “Golden Age” of movies, while fundamentally altering the way in which Hollywood movies were produced, distributed, and exhibited. It also fostered the idea that “vertical integration” should be restrained by courts and, based on antitrust principles, barriers should be put in place between corporate ownership of both distribution and content.

With regard to the AT&T-Time Warner merger, the Trump administration had argued that the resulting conglomerate would create the same vertical integration-dual ownership issue that the old Hollywood studio system faced, and as a negative consequence consumers would end up paying more for their television viewing.

This was the same position with regard to the proposed merger that then-candidate Trump held during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In addition to potential risk to consumers’ pocketbooks, the entertainment business will be significantly affected by the AT&T-Time Warner combination. Allowing the merger to proceed in its present fashion will have profound ramifications for the manner in which entertainment companies compete with one other.

Owners of news, movie, and/or entertainment cable television channels, who wish to be well placed on the AT&T-Time Warner system, will be beholden to a company that has control over the delivery system while simultaneously owning competing channels.

Producers of content that competes with that of AT&T-Time Warner may need to have the content distributed via the merged company’s delivery system.

It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the merged company would advertently or even inadvertently favor channels and content which the enterprise owns.

The court’s decision in approving the merger may also embolden other Hollywood studios to pair up with telecommunications companies in order to effectively deal with the cash-rich tech companies that have invaded the entertainment space of late, e.g., Apple, Amazon, Google, and Netflix.

One relevant case in point is that of Comcast, which has jumped into the bidding for 21st Century Fox’s assets that Disney had already been in the process of negotiating to purchase.

Consumers generally have very few options when it comes to cable, satellite, and broadband services. AT&T provides broadband and television via a cable media delivery service, U-verse. It also owns a major satellite television provider, DirecTV.

By acquiring Time Warner, the company obtains a major movie and television studio, which includes the DC Comics’ franchises, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, along with television programming on TBS, TNT, CNN, and HBO.

By owning content and delivery, the newly merged company has the same kind of vertical integration that the Court broke up years ago, when it forced movie studios to divest in the Paramount case.

 

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The Fourth Amendment Is Worth Protecting

Intelligence Chiefs Testify At House Hearing On National Security Threats

The New York Times recently published an extensive article that attempted to shine a positive light on an appallingly scandalous set of facts.

However, even with its extravagant spin efforts the newspaper could not exclude the information that the FBI employed secret counterintelligence tools to spy on the Trump campaign, including the use of a paid confidential informant who sought to extract damaging information from several people associated with the campaign.

It is a grave situation when, through the use of counterintelligence powers, a presidential administration targets officials associated with the campaign of the opposition party.

The same Obama executive branch engaged in a series of extraordinary actions to step-up government intrusions, including the following:

-The NSA was allowed to obtain private data on American citizens;

-Members of the press were spied upon;

-Hundreds of individuals were “unmasked” by the ambassador to the UN and the national security adviser;

-An unreliable dossier was used to obtain FISA warrants, and the parties submitting the applications failed to disclose key facts to the FISA court.

After all of these expansive actions were taken, the FBI counterintelligence probe, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” placed then-presidential candidate Donald Trump under surveillance.

It is the height of irony that in early 2017 President Trump was derided for his tweet that claimed he was being surveilled.

As these and other troubling facts emerged, the mainstream media did their dutifully best to rev up the spin engines.

The New York Times characterized the actions taken by the FBI during the above-referenced period as focused on Russia rather than spying, while the Washington Post attempted to twist the narrative into asserting that the FBI was “protecting” President Trump rather than targeting him.

In an appearance on CNN about the spying on the Trump campaign that had taken place via the hands of the government, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper channeled Martha Stewart as he indicated how the spying was a “good thing.”

Seemingly lost in the media coverage as well as in the continuing discussion is the damage being done to the fundamental principles of individual privacy rights, which are set forth in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Framers sought to protect citizens from unreasonable intrusions by the government. It was indeed a breakthrough notion by the Founding Fathers that the privacy of our persons, houses, papers, and effects are off limits to interference by government, unless and until a judge has signed off on a warrant that authorizes a search, seizure, or surveillance.

Judges may only issue warrants after finding probable cause to believe that the invasion of privacy or surveillance will produce evidence of criminal behavior. In addition, the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to specifically describe what will be seized and where a search will take place.

The norm in the Colonies during the pre-Fourth Amendment era was that warrants were issued in secret by British courts, without the inclusion of probable cause and/or specificity. In other words, the government could conduct a search without any legitimate judicial scrutiny.

It is now known that secret FISA warrants for surveillance on the Trump campaign were issued, based on an unreliable dossier purchased by the Hillary Clinton campaign, and that the FBI failed to disclose key information to the FISA court.

The use of so-called national security letters to gather documents on Trump campaign figures, however, constitutes a whole new level of government action that flies in the face of Fourth Amendment precepts.

According to the New York Times, the FBI “obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters – a secret type of subpoena…”

Several federal statutes allow intelligence officials to request certain business record information using national security letters, which are documents that compel the production of private materials.

National security letters are a type of administrative subpoena, which must be used solely in connection with national security investigations. The documents require individuals or organizations to provide materials that typically involve telephone, email, and/or financial records.

The national security letters include a gag order mandating that those responsible for complying cannot disclose the existence of the document or its content. When used in the manner in which the New York Times describes, national security letters are de facto warrants.

Simply said, phone records and other documents were compelled by a government agency from individuals connected with an opposing political party’s campaign, without a court, probable cause, or any judicial oversight whatsoever.

History demonstrates the danger of granting government agencies the ability to subvert constitutional norms.

Even in cases involving national security, the full requirements of the Fourth Amendment can and should be fulfilled in an expedited fashion, with no intrusions into citizens’ privacy without probable cause that is determined by a court of law, upheld by affirmation or sworn oath, which sets forth precisely what will be confiscated and the location that will be searched.

Tim Allen Is ‘Standing’ Again

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In May of 2016, ABC executives made an inexplicable decision, one that from a business standpoint seemed totally incoherent.

The Disney-owned network mysteriously cancelled its second-highest rated sitcom, which made no sense since the comedy had already received two prime time Emmy nominations and was on a solid upward trajectory.

“Last Man Standing,” starring Tim Allen, was in its sixth successful season at the time of its cancellation, with an average of more than 8 million viewers for the 2016-17 season. It was well on its way to the lucrative syndication level to which television producers, showrunners, and stars perpetually aspire.

Mike Baxter, the show’s lead character played by Allen, is a charmingly crusty outdoor sporting goods executive. He is also a refreshingly vocal and hilariously brazen center-right individual.

One rational explanation for ABC’s exercise in poor judgment back in 2016 may be that the company has an inherent disdain, as many in Hollywood do, for the show’s conservative-leaning content.

The fact that Allen’s actual political views are pretty much the same as the character he plays seems to give credence to the network’s likely motive in terminating the show. Adding possible fuel to the proverbial fire, Allen also happens to be a supporter of President Trump.

The comedic tension in the show comes from the nature of Allen’s character being a married father of three, who as a tried and true male head of the household attempts to safeguard his family fortress against attacks from left-minded relatives and the PC police.

A petition to bring back the show was launched by center-right TV viewers. “Last Man Standing” was described in the petition as a show that “appeals to a broad swath of Americans who find very few shows that extol the virtues with which they can identify; namely conservative values.”

ABC predictably denied that bias played any role in the decision to deep-six the original sitcom. Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, claimed that the reason the show was cancelled was due to high costs as opposed to Allen’s personal politics or the political content of the show.

Considering the fierce competition within the television industry as well as the difficulty of achieving the kind of consistent ratings success that Allen’s show garnered, ABC’s explanation simply does not hold water. As Allen himself told the Hollywood Reporter, “…there is nothing more dangerous, especially in this climate, than a funny, likable conservative character.”

After “Last Man Standing” was cut, ABC plugged the adult fairy tale drama “Once Upon a Time” into the time slot, which drew far lower ratings.

Then recently, in a sort of serendipitous Hollywood surprise, along came the refreshing reboot of the 1980s sitcom “Roseanne,” which took the TV world by storm and gave a starving center-right public (which incidentally is a huge demographic) a reason to laugh again.

Fox Television Group, led by chairpersons Gary Newman and Dana Walden, made a wise call and announced that they were bringing back the series.

“‘Last Man Standing’ ended too soon and the outcry from the fans has been deafening,” Newman and Walden said in a statement. “We’ve wanted to put the show back together since its final taping a year ago, and Tim never gave up hope either. Thanks to its millions of devoted viewers and the irrepressible Tim Allen, we haven’t seen the last of ‘Last Man Standing.’”

It initially appeared that key players Nancy Travis and Hector Elizondo were caught up in other television projects. However, in addition to Allen the show has been able to get Travis onboard, along with other original cast members Jonathan Adams, Christoph Sanders, Amanda Fuller, and Jordan Masterson. Hopefully the network can find a way to include Elizondo in the renewed show as well.

As for Allen, he issued a statement asking himself whether he was excited by the announcement that his show was returning to the air.

“Team LMS was in the sixth inning, ahead by four runs, stands were packed and then for no reason, they call off the game. It leaves you sitting in the dugout, holding a bat and puzzled. Now we get the news from Fox that it’s time to get back out on that diamond – hell yes, I’m excited!” Allen said.

In the same manner as his character would, Allen quipped, “When I heard the offer to create more episodes of ‘Last Man Standing,’ I did a fist pump so hard I threw my back out.”

“Last Man Standing” is expected to be part of the Fox schedule in the 2018-19 season, and much to the chagrin of ABC, many viewers will be doing fist pumps as they hand Fox a mega-ratings hit.

John Kerry’s Contemptible Collusion

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Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been colluding with the enemy, back-channeling with leaders of a totalitarian regime that fosters terrorism, and working against the national security interests of the United States.

Kerry has committed a textbook violation of the Logan Act, a 1799 law that has never resulted in a conviction. The law is violated when a private citizen negotiates without authorization on behalf of the United States in disputes with foreign governments.

The rationale behind the law seeks to prevent an individual with international contacts from thwarting the policy of the nation. This is exactly what Kerry has been attempting.

Why bring up a law from centuries past?

Four days into the Trump presidency acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, raised the very same Logan Act to claim that General Michael Flynn, a former Trump administration national security adviser, was in violation of the law due to Flynn’s perfectly proper discussion with the Russian ambassador during the transition period leading to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The law that Yates cited, which was passed during the administration of President John Adams, was not intended to apply to incoming officials during a transition period between presidential administrations.

The Logan Act was also used during the 2016 presidential campaign to attack then-candidate Trump when he humorously asked the Russians to reveal the 30,000-plus emails, which Hillary Clinton had illegally deleted from her server.

At least twice in the past two months Kerry has engaged in what Matt Viser of the Boston Globe termed “shadow diplomacy,” meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in order to seek a way to preserve the discredited and dubious Iran nuclear deal.

Kerry is apparently selfishly seeking to save what he believes is his personal legacy, while acting against current U.S. policy as well as the best interests of the Western world.

The Iran deal, which was struck in 2015 by the Obama administration, is now viewed as a toothless transaction at best, and at worst it is considered a dangerous pathway that enables Iran to become a nuclear power.

This is the same abominable deal that in January of 2016 the public learned that a jet carrying $400 million in euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies had landed in Tehran. The money was purportedly a partial payment of an outstanding claim by Iran. Soon afterward another $1.3 billion in cash followed, for a total of $1.7 billion in cash handed to the Iranians.

The Iran deal was one of the key policy issues litigated during the last presidential election, and the American people chose the policy that then-candidate Trump frequently enunciated, that the Iran deal needed to be terminated.

Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to continue on with the agreement. He has indicated that he intends to pull out of the Iran deal.

The Boston Globe called Kerry’s meeting with the Iranians “stealthy” and reported that Kerry is using his contacts acquired “during his time as the top U.S. diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside.” This is a Logan Act violation pure and simple.

Each day for a year and a half now news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC have been repeating the term “collusion” Meanwhile when Kerry colludes with a dangerous enemy to undermine a duly elected president, the appropriate media outrage is predictably missing.

If there were ever a clear cut example of a Logan Act violation it would be when a former top diplomat actively works against the United States with a totalitarian terrorist-supporting state, which is simultaneously seeking to acquire the capability to nuke both Israel and America.

This comes as no surprise when one considers Kerry’s history of cavorting with enemies and undermining American foreign policy. In the 1970s, Kerry traveled to Paris, France to meet with leaders of an enemy against which the United States was fighting a war, the North Vietnamese Communists. This, too, was a violation of the Logan Act.

In the 1980s, Kerry championed the Nuclear Freeze, which in response to Soviet placement of ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe, urged the U.S. to respond with a nonsensical policy of no response.

It has been reported that Kerry is considering a second run for president in 2020 to take on President Trump. However, Kerry’s contemptible collusion with Iran should utterly disqualify him as a candidate for any political office in the nation.

The Democrats Sham Lawsuit

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After more than a year, scores of interviews, mountains of documents, raids on witnesses, and tens of millions of dollars squandered away, there is still no evidence to support the allegation that President Donald Trump was involved in any type of “Russian collusion.”

In what appears to be a desperate attempt to get the “L” off its forehead, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has filed a lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks, putting forth a wild conspiracy theory to try and divert attention away from its embarrassing loss in the 2016 presidential election.

A host of federal laws that were supposedly violated are cited in the suit, including the Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and tried-and-true fave of the left, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The lawsuit is a redux of the 1972 DNC lawsuit during the Watergate investigation against then-President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee, which ended in 1974 when the Dems took a settlement of $750,000 from the Nixon campaign on the same day Nixon vacated the Oval Office.

In a statement contained in a press release, current DNC Chairman Tom Perez publicized the suit using identical phrases that CNN and MSNBC guests and hosts have been parroting for almost two years.

Perez claimed the lawsuit was filed because “Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy” in an act of “unprecedented treachery.”

The timing of the legal maneuver is a huge tell. Recent news coverage has been splattered with stories about the much-anticipated book tour of former FBI Director James Comey, which has not exactly been going according to plan and has even managed to elicit its share of ridicule and disdain.

Two news stories involving the Obama appointed Inspector General have cracked the liberal media firewall: 1) a criminal referral on the fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; and 2) the launch of a new investigation into Comey over the release of his self-incriminating memos.

Meanwhile President Trump’s poll numbers have hit a high-water mark and seem poised to go even higher with the historic news that North Korea may be willing to denuclearize. At the same time the Democrat generic ballot numbers appear to be falling.

Adding to a growing political anxiety for the DNC is the fact that the organization is running short of cash. It is for this reason and so many others that the group has seemingly adopted the Saul Alinsky strategy of pinning your political rival with the dirty deed you have committed.

Audaciously, this is the same DNC that rigged its own primary, as former interim DNC chairperson Donna Brazile has documented. It is also the same DNC that colluded with the Russians for real on the DNC bought-and-paid for fake dossier.

Legally speaking, the Democrats may rue the day that they filed this action. In civil lawsuits, defendants are entitled to conduct discovery, including having the ability to subpoena the production of documents and other evidence and depose witnesses under oath.

Republicans would no doubt jump at the chance to subpoena the DNC computer server and obtain the communications and documents that show how, in its own primary process, the DNC swindled the supporters of 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The DNC repeatedly refused to allow the FBI to access its server so that law enforcement could verify the allegation that Russia had hacked the server during the presidential campaign. Instead the DNC reached a dubious arrangement with the FBI in which a third-party company conducted forensic investigations on the server and shared details with the FBI.

The list of documents and witnesses involved with the purchase of the fake dossier and the subsequent FISA abuse scandal is lengthy and includes the names of McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, and Glenn Simpson, all of whom could be deposed as a result of the DNC lawsuit.

Additionally, defendants in the suit would be able to bring a host of counterclaims including ones that might involve defamation, conspiracy to defraud, and federal election money laundering.

Allegations that the Hillary Clinton campaign laundered millions of dollars in contributions from big name donors could also potentially become a part of the discovery effort.

As reporter Amy Chozick outlines in her book, “Chasing Hillary,” during the very same time period that the DNC lawsuit contends the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia, the Clinton campaign was engaging in an effort to elevate President Trump’s candidacy and tie him to the mainstream of the Republican Party.

Some Democrats are wise enough to see that the DNC lawsuit poses a whole slew of problems for them, as illustrated in the comments below:

— California Rep. Jackie Speier described the suit in a CNN interview as an “ill-conceived” idea that is “not in the interest of the American people.”

— Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the legal action is a “silly distraction.”

— Gloria Borger, the reflexively liberal chief political analyst at CNN, said that the DNC lawsuit is a “100% stunt” designed to “raise money,” adding that “they want to keep the story moving.”

The DNC needs to come to grips with the reality that it was a main player in the rigging of the 2016 presidential election, handing the nomination for president to a flawed candidate, who was under criminal investigation at the time of her nomination and who flat-out lost an election that diehard Democrats believed she already had in the bag.

Tech Oligarchs Censor the Right

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The technology companies that provide social media platforms have grown to gargantuan size and now possess an ominous power over the ability of citizens to express and communicate ideas.

This control over free expression, which is held by a few tech oligarchs, is unprecedented at any time in human history.

The most widely used social media platform, Facebook, claims 2 billion users globally and is the preferred source for news for 45 percent of American adults. Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to Google-owned YouTube every minute of the day. And Twitter indicates that it has 330 million monthly active users. It was inevitable that these three monolithic social media platforms would be replete with users who seek to influence public opinion.

At one time all three seemed to reflect the notion that the general Internet should be treated as a free and open forum for any and all points of view.

The three have now shown themselves to be untrustworthy with data. They have proven to be biased, and of late have made it clear that they are willing to utilize the same kind of censorship that authoritarian regimes impose.

The ability of conservatives to reach people through the use of social media is being slowly and steadily diminished by the implemented policies of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This is occurring under the guise of eliminating false information.

Videos, posts, and other expressions are routinely being taken down, accounts are surreptitiously being limited in scope, and in some cases users are even being exiled from the Internet.

Tech giants have consistently demonstrated hostility toward the convictions of Americans who dare to hold contrary views to the pre-ordained liberal script. This all seemed to have begun with the revelation in the spring of 2016 that news curators at Facebook were suppressing news stories from right-of-center outlets. The resultant negative publicity caused Facebook to actually remove its human editors.

Last summer Twitter blocked pro-life advertisements, labeling them “sensitive content.” Early this year Twitter claimed that it was purging the platform of suspected Russian bot accounts, but it ended up causing conservative Twitter users, including podcaster Dan Bongino, to suffer a loss of followers.

In what it claimed to be a hunt for “fake news,” YouTube shut down highly viewed non-liberal channels on its platform. It ultimately had to apologize for what it called “mistaken removals,” just one more admission that a video platform had engaged in ideological censorship. The organization’s use of an extreme left-wing group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, to determine what is “offensive” speech is a major tell of YouTube’s true intentions.

Oddly, the highly entrepreneurial Silicon Valley community has allowed itself to become a slavish patron of anti-business liberalism. As is typical of much of Wall Street and many major corporations, the tech world is devoted to leftist immigration policies that allow tech companies to access inexpensive labor.

Perhaps because the technology world considers itself to be scientifically minded, a huge portion of the tech community has become enamored with faux scientists such as Al Gore and have simply bought the notions of radical environmentalists hook, line, and sinker.

Those outside of the liberal circle, who happen to constitute a sizable segment of society, have made great strides in the past using digital technology to persuade the public. Presently, though, they are justifiably concerned about losing access to social media platforms at such a critical juncture in U.S. politics.

Where do divergent thinkers go to find a way to fight back against the free expression redactors? Here are some options for consideration:

–Litigation.

Lawsuits launched by those who feel as if they have experienced interference with their free expression on social media may find themselves in an uphill battle. However, it may be worth the struggle.

At the trial level, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh recently indicated that Prager University, a non-profit project by author, educator, and national radio talk show host Dennis Prager, failed to show in a lawsuit that YouTube infringed upon its free speech rights by placing age restrictions on its content.

The suit was filed over YouTube’s “Restricted Mode” setting on such topics it deemed offensive. The judge held that YouTube was not a “state actor,” but rather a “private entity” and as such was not subject to First Amendment protections.

The judge also dismissed a claim on another legal theory that YouTube engaged in false advertising by implying that Prager University’s videos were “inappropriate.”

The judge did encourage Prager University to amend its lawsuit to explore whether California’s state constitution would provide protection “in the age of social media and the Internet.” The decision can, of course, be appealed.

–Regulation.

The cumulative actions of social media giants have resulted in otherwise free market thinking individuals to begin eyeing the prospects of some kind of limited government regulation of the social media space.

One approach would be to classify social media platforms as “common carriers” and require that all users be treated equally. This is a variant of the much touted “net neutrality” about which tech blogs often rant.

A specific proposal that seems to have some merit involves mandating that users who are dissatisfied with either Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter be allowed to freely transfer their data to another platform, much in the same way consumers transfer their cell phone numbers from one carrier to another.

–Competition.

It is long overdue that a freedom loving social media provider appear on the scene.

Similar to the way in which the bias of the mainstream media gave birth to the alternative media, i.e., Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the like, those who hold non-liberal beliefs must create an alternative social media and do so before its too late.

Media Ignores Election Law Violations Related to Facebook’s Obama Campaign Connection

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Facebook is feeling the wrath of left-wing organizations and mainstream media outlets as a result of a recently publicized data breach, which involved the unauthorized gathering of Facebook users’ data by a British consulting firm that worked for then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.

When it publicly became known that Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked for the Trump campaign, harvested data from 50 million Facebook users, the news triggered intense reactions from a broad range of Democrats and others of a liberal persuasion. Curiously, there was no such similar anger expressed when former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was supplied Facebook data to use for political purposes.

The media quickly glommed on to the Cambridge Analytica story, using it as one more opportunity to excuse Hillary Clinton for her embarrassing presidential campaign loss.

Virtually ignored by the mainstream media, however, was and still is the manner in which the Obama campaign extensively utilized social network data in previous election cycles.

Recently, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook broke out on the social media, and a sizable number of celebrities and high-profile companies suspended their Facebook advertising and some even ceased using Facebook altogether.

–In a Facebook post, actor and comedian Will Ferrell announced that he was going to delete his Facebook account. “I’m reaching out to let you know that in 72 hours I will be deleting my Facebook account,” Ferrell wrote, indicating that he was not deleting it immediately, in order to give his message enough time to reach his fans and followers. He specifically cited, in his words, Cambridge Analytica’s “misuse of millions of Facebook users’ information in order to undermine our democracy and infringe on our citizens’ privacy.”

–Singer-actress Cher used her Twitter account to inform her followers that she was deleting her Facebook account.

–British hip-hop duo Massive Attack made an exit from the social platform.

–Elon Musk deleted the Facebook pages of his companies, Tesla and SpaceX.

–Playboy followed suit.

–Mozilla, creator of the Firefox browser, stated it would stop advertising on Facebook. The company also launched a new Firefox browser extension, which blocks Facebook’s ability to track activities on other websites that have integrated with the social network.

–Auto parts giant Pep Boys, Germany’s second-largest bank Commerzbank, and Electronics manufacturer Sonos halted their advertising on the social media platform as well.

It appears as though the indignation expressed by liberals and the mainstream media has little to do with Facebook’s misuse of data but almost everything to do with their visceral hatred for President Trump.

Meanwhile, what appears to continually be being given a pass is a far more egregious breach of privacy.

In 2012 Facebook presented to the reelection campaign of then-President Obama the data, free of charge, of about 190 million people. This is four-times the amount of people whose privacy was breached in the Cambridge Analytica matter.

Carol Davidsen, former media director for Obama for America, publicly stated that Facebook freely allowed the 2012 Obama campaign “direct access to the personal data of Facebook users, in violation of its internal rules, making a special exception for the campaign.”

Davidsen posted on Twitter that Facebook “came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

Political campaigns customarily must pay for access to the above-referenced kind of data. Under federal law, corporations cannot make contributions to federal candidates. This prohibition includes not only cash, but “anything of value.” Corporations therefore cannot provide federal candidates with free services of any type. Such free services are categorized under election law by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as “in-kind contributions.”

When Facebook gave the Obama campaign free access to data, when it would have customarily charged fees for such access, the social media giant may conceivably have violated a federal prohibition on corporate in-kind contributions. Additionally, the Obama campaign may have broken the law by accepting the in-kind corporate contribution.

In contrast, the Trump campaign does not appear to have this kind of legal exposure because it actually did pay Cambridge Analytica for its services.

Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the FEC, contends that the data transfer by Facebook to the Obama campaign is unlawful, and could even be a matter for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate.

These potential violations of federal campaign finance laws by Facebook and the Obama campaign are serious enough to warrant a much deeper investigation. Campaign finance laws are enforced administratively by the FEC, and civil fines can be imposed; however, the DOJ has concurrent criminal jurisdiction over violations of campaign finance laws.

As von Spakovsky reasoned, “It [the Facebook transfer of data to the Obama campaign] should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission and potentially the U.S. Department of Justice.”