Dems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech

Dems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech
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Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday tried to end a hearing on alleged conservative bias at social media companies and instead turn the discussion to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member, moved to go into an executive session on Russia’s election meddling. His motion failed 12-10.

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Tensions were high as the panel's Democrats blasted Republicans for holding a second hearing on whether conservative voices are targeted on social media.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDems seek probe into EPA head’s meetings with former clients Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech MORE (D-Md.) called the investigation a “fairy tail” and “pure fantasy.”

“While there are legitimate questions to be raised about social media practices in general,” Raskin said, “alleged conservative bias is not one of them.”

Prior to the hearing, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted that he fears the Judiciary Committee “is becoming a joke.”

“Dear Chair @RepGoodlatte: Can we do a hearing on Russian infiltration of @NRA by [alleged Russian agent] Maria Butina and others?” Lieu wrote. “Oh wait, you are about to gavel in a @HouseJudiciary hearing on how many Facebook likes [pro-Trump video bloggers] Diamond & Silk should be entitled to have.”

“This committee has oversight of the Department of Justice,” the Lieu added. “Our President also disparaged the Department of Justice. Are we having a hearing on that? No.”

The hearing was the second the panel has held on the issue of conservative bias at tech companies.

At an earlier hearing, the lawmakers heard from pro-Trump video bloggers Diamond & Silk, whose real names are Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson. The two have claimed they were censored by Facebook.

This is the latest instance of Democrats complaining that Republicans, who as the majority party control the hearings set by congressional committees, are avoiding controversial topics such as Russian election interference and family separations at the border.

Republicans on the panel, though, defended the hearing on Tuesday.

“The online environment is becoming more polarized — not less. And there are concerns that discourse is being squelched, not facilitated,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteGoodlatte: Administration undercut law, Congress by setting refugee cap Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers MORE (R-Va.).

“These platforms need to do better jobs explaining how they make decisions to filter content and the rational for why they do so,” he added.

Updated at 2:36 p.m.