Diamond and Silk Clash with Rep. Hank Johnson in Explosive Hearing on Censorship

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Posted: Apr 26, 2018 2:55 PM
Diamond and Silk Clash with Rep. Hank Johnson in Explosive Hearing on Censorship

Pro-Trump conservative media personalities Diamond and Silk, sisters whose real names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday on the topic of bias against conservatives by companies like Facebook, in a hearing that frequently went off the rails. The sisters defended their claims that they were censored by the tech giant, often in very strong terms.

They said that if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was censoring liberals, “Democrats would be in the streets right now marching and calling him all types of racist.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) implied the sisters were making a lot of money off of Facebook, a characterization they strongly denied.

“You ladies are very impressive to me,” Rep. Johnson said, “you have taken something and moved forward with it, exercising your First Amendment rights, and you've made a ton of money off Facebook, is that correct?

“Absolutely not,” Hardaway replied angrily, “Facebook censored us for six months.”

“The point I'm trying to make is you all have been bashing Facebook and you've been making a ton of money, isn't that correct?” Johnson pressed.

“We didn't bash Facebook,” Hardaway said. “We brought the light on how Facebook has been censoring conservative voices like ours... They won't let us monetize on Facebook. They stopped it for six months, 29 days. They limited our page.”

“And Youtube did also by demonetizing 95 percent of our videos for no reason at all,” Richardson chimed in, “deeming it as hate speech.”

Johnson continued in his attempts to discuss the sisters’ profits, saying “you still sell merchandise.”

“Even if we sell merchandise that don't have anything to do with Facebook,” Hardaway replied. “Facebook censored our free speech, and shame on the ones that don't even see that we have been censored.” 

Hardaway then highlighted what she claimed was a double standard in the way Facebook treats conservatives like them.

“When the Black Lives Matter people come in, everyone is up in arms,” she told Johnson. “Let me just say this here, if the shoe was on the other foot and Mark Zuckerberg was a conservative, and we were liberals, oh all fences and all chains would have broke loose. You know it and I know it. What I find appalling is that these Democrats they don't want to take up for our voice because we support the president.”

“Democrats would be in the streets,” Richardson agreed. “Democrats would be in the streets right now marching and calling him all types of racist.”

Johnson concluded his questioning with a comment that the committee is “giving you a tremendous platform with this hearing to make a ton of money when it’s over.” 

“That’s right, and I hope everybody goes on Facebook and follows us," Hardaway replied. "Because that’s what it’s supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about obtaining the American dream. We are African-American women. If illegal aliens can come over here and build businesses, why can’t we? We were born on this soil. You don’t have a right to silence my voice.”

Johnson then mocked Diamond's name saying he's "always heard diamonds are a girl's best friend" but "rather than diamonds you're seeking money with Facebook."

Hardaway wasn't having any of it.

“If Facebook is a platform for you to make money, then so be it, everybody else do it," she told Johnson. "Don’t stop us from making any. Don’t make us feel guilty because we and other people that have built their brand page want to make money. We’ve spent plenty of money.”

The sisters maintained throughout the hearing that Facebook had not directly contacted them in response to the censorship claims until April 12th, following Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress.

They also answered claims that they were lying about never having been paid by the Trump campaign. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) asked them to respond to an FEC filing showing the Trump campaign paid them $1,274.94 for field consulting in 2016.

“Nobody is lying,” Richardson told Jeffries. “However, there may have been a mistake from the Trump campaign whenever they wrote what the $1,274.94 was for.”

“This was for, because we were asked to join the Women for Trump tour back in 2016,” she said, “and Miss Lara Trump asked that our airline tickets be refunded back to us because we paid for those tickets when we went from New York to Ohio.”

“It was for a reimbursement,” she said. “Not field consulting.”