Background Briefing: October 24, 2021


How Facebook Turns Conservatives Into Extremists

We begin with the growing reaction to the trove of internal documents the former Facebook employee turned whistleblower Francis Haugen turned over to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC and the Congress which are now being analyzed by the press and the British parliament before which Haugen will testify on Monday. Joining us is Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, host of the podcast Another Way, founder of, and co-founder of Creative Commons. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court, and is the author of Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, One Way Forward: The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic, and They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy. We discuss the clear case emerging that Facebook’s controlling owner Mark Zuckerberg along with his mentor Peter Theil put the company’s growth and profits ahead of public safety and in response to complaints from the Right that they have a liberal bias, they have given the Right a free reign allowing extremism to flourish, breathing life into the “Stop the Steal” lie which culminated with the January 6 insurrection. Facebook’s own research shows how a 2019 test account set up in the fake name of Carol Smith, a 41 year old conservative woman in North Carolina, had the Facebook algorithm delivering Q-Anon content to her in 2 days and within weeks the 3 Percent Militia movement who stormed the Capitol were radicalizing her.


Will Delivering on Biden’s Promises Lead to Victory in the Midterms?

Then we speak with Lincoln Mitchell, a professor of Political Science at Columbia University, where he also serves as an associate scholar in the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. The author of numerous books on the former Soviet states, baseball, and democracy, he has an article at CNN “Doing right isn’t the secret to Democrat’s success next year” and we discuss how delivering on Biden’s policy promises is not necessarily the key to victory for the Democrats in the midterms. 


Again The Supreme Court Refuses to block Extreme Texas Abortion Law

The finally, with the Supreme Court again refusing to block the extreme Texas abortion law, we speak with Carol Sanger, a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School where she teaches courses on reproductive rights, family law, the legal profession, and law and gender. Her latest book is About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in the 21st Century and we discuss how the court will hear arguments on the case on November the first then on another abortion case on December the first, but a ruling will not come until late next year so the women of Texas will continue to have their constitutional rights denied.