President Trump used a White House conference Thursday to applaud far-right social media provocateurs even as he conceded that some of them are extreme in their views. Trump, who has weaponized social media to eviscerate opponents and promote himself, led a "social media summit" of like-minded critics of Big Tech, excluding representatives from the very platforms he exploits, the AP reports. The president used the event to air grievances over his treatment by Big Tech, but also to praise some of the most caustic voices on the right, who help energize Trump's political base. "Some of you guys are out there," he told them. "I mean it's genius, but it's bad."
Trump praised James O'Keefe, whose Project Veritas organization once tried to plant a false story in the Washington Post. In May 2010, O'Keefe and three others pleaded guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor in a scheme in which they posed as telephone repairmen in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office. "He's not controversial, he's truthful," Trump insisted of O'Keefe. Trump told the friendly crowd, "You're bypassing the very, very corrupt media." The meeting represented an escalation of Trump's battle with Facebook, Google and Twitter. The president has claimed, without evidence, that the companies are "against me" and even suggested US regulators should sue them on grounds of anti-conservative bias. He announced Thursday that he is directing his administration to explore "all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free-speech rights of all Americans."
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