MacCallum makes mincemeat out of Kirby who squirms over hypocritical Apple vs Twitter treatment

A Biden official struggled Thursday when pushed by Fox News to explain the administration’s response to Apple limiting services in China which supported protestors at the request of the Chinese Community Party.

Apple AirDrop, which allows users to share content between Apple devices using Bluetooth technology rather than wifi, has been an integral part of protests in the communist country by allowing participants to bypass internet content moderators.

(Video: Fox News)

The tool was used widely during Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests, with demonstrators sharing messages and protest literature with passers-by and visitors from mainland China through AirDrop’s open network. In mid-October, AirDrop was reportedly used to disseminate messages based on banners produced by a Beijing demonstrator known as “Bridge man.”

With a November 9 update unique to phones sold only in mainland China, Apple has shackled protestors’ ability to share information without interference from state-run censorship. The update limits AirDrop function to receive messages from “everyone” for 10 minutes before switching off, rather than the unlimited period enjoyed outside China.

“What do you say to Apple about helping the Chinese government to keep their people under control?” host Martha MacCallum asked NSC coordinator for strategic communications, Ret. Adm. John Kirby on Thursday’s episode of “The Story” on Fox News.

“Look, in general, we want individual citizens, no matter what government, to be able to communicate free and openly and reliably,” Kirby said. “We’ve made that clear with respect to Iran and certainly with respect to China.”

MacCallum didn’t let Kirby sidestep the question with that canned answer, pressing the Navy man for justification of the White House’s hands-off approach to Apple assisting the Chinese government in censoring its citizens.

“Why not say something to Apple?” MacCallum asked again. “We’re told the White House is keeping an eye on Elon Musk and Twitter. You didn’t say it, but Karine Jean-Pierre did, and not call Apple out for helping the Chinese government to suppress their own people.”

Apple is a private company and therefore outside the scope of Washington’s interference, Kirby said.

“We have been clear and consistent on this,” he said. “We’ve been open about our desire to see citizens communicate. If it’s a decision Apple is making, we should speak to that. We’re not in business of telling private companies how to execute their initiatives.”

MacCallum was dumbfounded by Kirby’s response, quickly pointing out again that the administration has not taken that approach with other privately-held U.S. businesses, namely Twitter, which the White House has repeatedly cited as deserving of oversight.

“Why is Twitter getting one treatment and Apple another? That’s my question,” MacCallum pressed.

The situations are apples and oranges, the Biden official essentially said, and cannot be compared.

“You’re talking about the potential for perhaps foreign investment and involvement in the management of Twitter,” Kirby stammered. “That’s a different issue than what we’re talking about here, which is a business decision by Apple with respect to how one of their applications is being utilized.”

MacCallum reiterated that China asked Apple to adjust the usability of services that benefited protestors, essentially muzzling those speaking against the CCP, and Apple complied, demonstrating clear influence in the running of an American business by a foreign government.

“That’s a fair question to ask Apple and try to make them communicate why they did this,” Kirby attempted to sidestep but MacCallum wasn’t having it.

“I’m asking has the White House done that?” the veteran journalist asked. “Have you reached out to them as a matter of national security, since we have national security concerns with China, who they seem to be aiding in this process?”

Kirby admitted that the White House has not spoken with Apple.

“I don’t have any communications to speak to with Apple executives,” Kirby said. “It’s a private company. They make these policies and should have to answer for that.”

While MacCallum agreed that Apple had a lot to answer for, she also held the White House accountable for hypocrisy, stressing again that there is a precedent for the Biden administration to interfere in private business when it suits their agenda.

“I just want to point out that Elon Musk helped protesters in Iran and in Ukraine by getting Star Link working. He did the opposite of what Tim Cook is doing right now,” MacCallum said. “He said the obvious reality as long-time users know is that Twitter has failed in trust and safety for a very long time and has interfered in elections. He’s talking about opening up communications that existed between the U.S. government and Twitter and suppressing the Hunter Biden story. Are you aware of communications between the government and Twitter to say put a handle on this story and it was suppressed?”

There was communication between government officials and Facebook about being very cautious about the Hunter Biden story before the election, she said.

“I’m certainly not aware of any conversations or dialogue in that respect, Martha, no,” Kirby said. “We want to make sure our elections are free and fair and open and transparent and any threat to that is a concern of ours. I’m not aware of what Mr. Musk is speaking about here. I look forward to getting more information about that so we can better understand what he’s alleging here.”

Kirby attempted to derail the interview, shifting the focus to Russian interference in elections but MacCallum wasn’t having it.

“You’re not suggesting that the Hunter Biden story was disinformation, to be clear,” she asked.

“I’m not suggesting anything with respect to that specific investigation,” Kirby responded.


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