clock menu more-arrow no yes

Facebook has been actively courting conservatives, but that won't stop it from getting spanked

Allegations that news curators routinely suppress news of interest to conservatives riled the GOP.

Facebook Exhibits Technologies At Innovation Hub Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Facebook seems destined to go through the Washington, D.C., spanking machine over allegations that the social network's news curators routinely suppress conservative voices and news sources on the platform.

The irony is: Facebook has been courting Republicans for years.

In the last week alone, Facebook was pilloried on social media for sponsoring the Republican National Convention — despite calls from progressive groups to withhold support from the Trump-led event. Meanwhile, some 19 million people used the platform to discuss the GOP's presumptive nominee (generating some 103 million "Likes," posts, comments and shares mentioning the bombastic billionaire).

It made a series of GOP hires in Washington, D.C., in recent years to serve as a counterweight to Facebook's Democratic-leaning Capitol Hill staffers — and to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, a savvy Washington player and supporter of the Democratic presidential bids of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

Consider Facebook's head of global politics and government outreach, Katie Harbath. Before joining the social network, she served as chief digital strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, led digital strategy for Rudolph Giuliani's 2008 presidential bid and worked for the Republican National Committee.

Harbath is well known in conservative circles and represented Facebook at the first Republican presidential candidates debate (which it jointly sponsored with Fox News). She has actively promoted the social network's tools as a way for GOP politicians to engage their constituents and court voters.

The head of Facebook's D.C. office, Joel Kaplan, was deputy chief of staff in President George W. Bush’s White House. He worked on Bush's 2000 presidential bid (and participated in the "Brooks Brothers." protest in 2000, when a group of Bush supporters crowded into a Florida room where supervisors were recounting ballots) and clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Greg Maurer, aide to former House Speaker John Boehner, joined Facebook as director of public policy. And its lobbying ranks include Myriah Jordan, who worked with Kaplan in the Bush White House and served as general counsel under U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Facebook's conservative bona fides won't keep it from being beaten up by Sen. John Thune, the Republican chairman of Senate Commerce Committee. That's because there's really no downside to the GOP picking a fight with the "liberal" media.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.