Overnight Tech: Sparks fly as Diamond and Silk testify | EU proposes new rules for internet companies | FTC back at full strength

Overnight Tech: Sparks fly as Diamond and Silk testify | EU proposes new rules for internet companies | FTC back at full strength
© Greg Nash

DIAMOND AND SILK GET A GRILLING: The conservative YouTube duo managed to go viral again on Thursday - this time thanks to a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill that lit up social media.

Democrats clashed with pro-Trump personalities Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson -- better known as "Diamond and Silk" -- over alleged social media bias against conservatives during a House Judiciary hearing on Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, bashed the entire premise of the hearing during his remarks.

"[Republicans] have prioritized this spectacle over every other kind of conversation we should be having today and we should have been having for the past year," Nadler said.

The New York lawmaker said claims the YouTube personalities had been censored or discriminated against by the social media platforms didn't stand up to any scrutiny, nor did broader claims of conservative bias.

"Diamond and Silk's tremendous reach and growth is evidence that they haven't been censored," he said.

During their questioning, the duo fired back, charging Democrats with being biased themselves.

"If the shoe was on the other foot and Mark Zuckerberg was a conservative and we were liberals, all fences and chains would have broke loose," Hardaway said.

Lawmakers also questioned Hardaway and Richardson about inconsistencies during their testimony...

 

Trump campaign money: Diamond and Silk claimed under oath at the hearing that they were never paid for their consulting work by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE's 2016 presidential campaign.

Federal campaign finance filings show otherwise.

"We have never been paid by the Trump campaign," Lynette Hardaway, who goes by Diamond, told Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeCongress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse Five takeaways from acting AG's fiery House hearing Democrat to acting AG: 'We are not joking here' MORE (D-Texas).

Filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show that the campaign paid the duo $1,275 on Nov. 22, 2016, for "field consulting."

Richardson dismissed the claim as "fake news."

Trump team's response: Bradley Crate, the Trump campaign's treasurer, issued a statement Thursday afternoon chalking up the confusion to a "reasonable misunderstanding" based on semantics. "The campaign's payment to Diamond and Silk for field consulting was based on an invoice they submitted reflecting their costs for air travel to a campaign event," Crate said. "The invoice was not supported by accompanying receipts, so as a technical matter, could not be reported as a reimbursement even though its purpose was to make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs."

 

Were they censored? Hardaway and Richardson repeatedly claimed that they had been censored by Facebook, relaying accounts of what they claimed were otherwise-unexplained declines in their viewership numbers and anecdotes from fans who said their videos have become harder to find.

Richardson also answered "yes" when asked if Diamond and Silk were "blocked" on Facebook, despite being unable to produce any record of this.

Democrats were skeptical.

"Diamond and Silk's tremendous reach and growth is evidence that they haven't been censored," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, responded.

 

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IVANKA TALKS SKILLS TRAINING: Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump, Harris, Ocasio-Cortez, Charlie Kirk among Twitter's most-engaged users Ivanka must recalibrate her paid family leave plan to make it tenable Four names emerge for UN position: report MORE and her husband Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDems open new front against Trump Dems launch investigation into Trump administration's dealings with Saudi Arabia The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? MORE hosted a group of CEOs and senators at their home last night and discussed reauthorizing the Perkins Act, which is aimed at improving the workforce through jobs training, according to a source familiar with the event.

The issue has been on the minds of many tech leaders and the source said that it was a "priority topic" for the president's daughter.

Among those who attended last night's dinner were Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise Trump: Bernie Sanders 'missed his time' for White House MORE (D-Minn.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Congress must move forward on measure dealing with fentanyl GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees MORE (R-Tenn.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants GOP senator: Border deal is 'a very good compromise' Push to include contractor back pay in funding deal hits GOP roadblock MORE (R-W.Va.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziWill Senate GOP try to pass a budget this year? Presumptive benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans are a major win If single payer were really a bargain, supporters like Rep. John Yarmuth would be upfront about its cost MORE (R-Wyo.), and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.). Business leaders in attendance included IBM chief Ginni Rometty, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush and Josh Bolton, the president of the Business Roundtable.

 

EU PROPOSES NEW REGS FOR TECH: The European Commission put forth a proposal today to regulate how internet platforms treat businesses that rely on their services to reach consumers.

The rules would require companies like Google and Facebook to lay out clearly in their terms of service how their algorithms might affect the prominence that businesses have in their feeds.

"These new online market places drive growth and innovation in the EU, but we need a set of clear and basic rules to ensure a sustainable and predictable business environment," Andrus Asip, the commission's vice president for the digital market, said in a statement Thursday.

 

Some tech groups are already concerned about the move: "The idea of regulation directed solely at platforms is questionable," Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, said in a statement. "We hope that the Commission's proposal on platform to business operations finds the right balance of allowing economic growth to continue while narrowly tailoring policy to ensure it addresses concrete concerns."

 

SENATE DEMS WANT TO HALT FCC MEDIA MOVES: A group of Senate Dems is calling on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to hold off on making any more moves on media ownership until the agency conducts a review of the broadcasting landscape.

"When combined with the troubling trend by some broadcasters of using corporately-developed national news content as a substitute for local journalism, your recent actions risk making the 'local' in local broadcasting a thing of the past," the 22 senators wrote, referencing Sinclair Broadcast Group's "must-run" programming.

 

Background: Sinclair is currently awaiting FCC approval for its merger with Tribune Media, a deal that Democrats have criticized as a worrisome consolidation of media power.

Dems have called on Pai to recuse himself from the Sinclair review after it was revealed that the inspector general was investigating the chairman's relationship with the company.

 

FTC BACK TO FULL STRENGTH: The Senate unanimously confirmed Trump's full slate of FTC nominees Thursday, bringing the agency back to full strength for the first time in more than 15 months.

Republican antitrust attorney Joseph Simons will be chairing the commission. Also confirmed Thursday were two other Republicans -- Noah Phillips, an aide to Sen. John CornynJohn CornynO'Rourke mulling another Senate run as well as presidential bid Texas senator introduces bill to produce coin honoring Bushes On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (Texas) and Delta Air Lines executive Christine Wilson -- plus two Democrats -- Rohit Chopra, a consumer advocate and former CFPB official, and Rebecca Slaughter, an adviser to Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (N.Y.).

The agency has been operating with just two commissioners for the past 15 months, and the one Democrat at the agency, Terrell McSweeny, was set to step down on Friday.

 

SPACE WEATHER: Lawmakers on Thursday held a hearing on ways to boost research on space weather, reports The Hill's Maya Lora.

The House Science Subcommittees on Space and the Environment held a joint hearing with witnesses who called for more funding and resources to predict how weather conditions in space could affect Earth.

The full committee chairman, Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithComstock joins K Street firm Congress can stop the war on science Yoder, Messer land on K Street MORE (R-Texas), said space weather such as solar storms could knock satellites out of orbit, damage the electric grid and expose astronauts or those in airplanes to radiation.

But Republicans grappled with the costs of addressing the problem, with Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) calling for private sector partnerships to expand research.

"As the private sector continues to move into low-Earth orbit, more and more companies will be relying on space weather predictions to protect their assets," Babin said. "Space weather is another area of great commercial opportunity in space, and, as we have in the past, we must continue to encourage and leverage these private endeavors for the benefit of all Americans."

 

ON TAP:

The House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on robocalls and caller ID spoofing at 9 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

British MPs are considering using summons power to force Zuckerberg to testify if he enters the UK  

Bloomberg: Facebook CTO says only verified accounts will be allowed to pay for political ads in the UK and users will be able to view all promotions paid for by a campaign

CNBC: Facebook admits it did not read terms of the app that harvested data of 87 million

The Ringer: Beware the data brokers

DHS chief on unfilled cybersecurity positions: We're working on it