Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

Ring of truth: House Intel report reveals Giuliani, Nunes, and White House call records

December 5, 2019

Call records obtained by impeachment investigators have given them new ammo against President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—including details on his interactions with the White House, several Ukraine associates; and Representative Devin Nunes (R-California), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, The Wall Street Journal reported on December 3.

The records of those calls were included in a draft report by the House Intelligence Committee released Tuesday. The panel alleged that Trump had abused his office for personal and political gain by pressuring Ukraine for dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter—with the help of the Giuliani.

According to the Journal,” the phone records suggest Giuliani’s deep involvement in several key episodes that have become a focus of the impeachment probe.” The frequent contacts between Nunes and two figures at the center of the inquiry—Giuliani and one of his indicted associates—are viewed as highly unusual and are likely to redouble calls from Democrats for Nunes to face an ethics inquiry.

A lawyer for the Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, said his client’s conversations with Nunes in April were focused on corruption investigations in Ukraine. However, by that point, Parnas had for months been helping Giuliani push Ukraine to investigate Biden and alleged interference by Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election—the effort that set off the impeachment inquiry.

A spokesman for Nunes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Tuesday that the phone records showed “considerable coordination” among the parties under investigation, including the White House. The records only show the timing and length of calls placed and don’t include their content.

The phone records show that on April 24, the day that Marie Yovanovitch, then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was recalled to Washington, Giuliani spoke at least eight times with a White House phone number. He already has acknowledged pressing the president to remove Yovanovitch from her post, and Trump subsequently ordered her to be recalled, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Giuliani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the news outlet. He and the president have denied any wrongdoing.

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump campaign refuses to issue press credentials to Bloomberg News reporters

December 4, 2019

Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign has announced that it no longer will approve credentials for Bloomberg News reporters after the financial media company said it wouldn’t cover Democratic presidential candidatesonly reporting on  Republican and Independent candidates—while its owner and founder, Mike Bloomberg, is out on the trail seeking the party’s nomination.

It’s anybody’s guess what effect the newly restrictive Trump campaign policy might have without a similar decision by the White House, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bloomberg News occupies one of a handful of permanent seats in the White House press corps travel pool, which means a Bloomberg News reporter currently is with the president wherever he travels, including campaign events.

A White House spokesman declined to comment, but the POTUS weighed in on Twitter on Monday evening.

“Mini Mike Bloomberg has instructed his third rate news organization not to investigate him or any Democrat, but to go after President Trump, only,” @realDonaldTrump tweeted, adding it was “not O.K.!”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale commented that continuing to investigate President Trump, whom all of the Democratic presidential contenders are attempting to unseat, was an unfair reporting practice.

“The decision by Bloomberg News to formalize preferential reporting policies is troubling and wrong,” Parscale said in a statement obtained by the Journal. The campaign will engage with Bloomberg News reporters only on a “case-by-case basis,” he said.

“Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events,” Parscale added.

John Micklethwait, editor in chief of Bloomberg News, said Parscale’s accusations “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign,” he said in a statement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “It is unusual for major-party presidential candidates to ban news outlets from events, but not for Trump. During his 2016 campaign he barred several media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed News, from his campaign events for certain periods.”

Research contact:@WSJ

Cosmetic changes: Kylie Jenner sells $600 million stake in beauty business to Coty

November 19, 2019

Kylie Jenner will continue to give “lip service” to her line of lip kits, makeup, and skincare essentials—however veteran beauty brand Coty announced  on November 18 that it will pay $600 million for a controlling stake in Kylie Cosmetics—wagering that the reality star’s brand can revive a tanking  beauty business based on CoverGirl, MaxFactor, and Rimmel.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the fragrance and cosmetics company plans to buy 51% of Kylie Cosmetics, valuing it at $1.2 billion. Jenner, the youngest of the five Kardashian-Jenner sisters, founded the brand in 2015. She will remain the public face of the brand.

Known for nude lip liners and lipsticks, Kylie Cosmetics this spring added a skincare line.The retailer, Ulta Beauty,  last year started carrying the makeup at its more than 1,100 stores nationwide.

Kylie Cosmetics is on track for roughly $200 million in sales this year, Coty said. It is part of a wave of fledgling cosmetics lines–including Glossier and Fenty—that are capitalizing on celebrity founders and social media-driven marketing.

“This is where the growth of the market is,” Coty Finance Chief Pierre-André Terisse said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. The brand is attractive both for its skincare business and online presence, he said.

Research contact: @WSJ

After spiteful tweet during Yovanovitch testimony, Schiff accuses Trump of ‘witness intimidation’

November 18, 2019

In a shocking display of animus during the testimony of ousted Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on Friday morning, November 15, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted an accusation, with no supporting evidence, that she had caused havoc during her diplomatic tours prior to her most recent assignment.

Even as Yovanovitch bore witness as part of the impeachment inquiry, the president tweeted: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him.”

It was an attack that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff characterized as “witness intimidation”—and which the former ambassador clapped back on: When asked to comment on the tweet, Yovanovitch said, “I actually think that where I’ve served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”

She described herself as a dedicated public servant during her opening statement, asserting, “I come before you as an American citizen, who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love. Like my colleagues, I entered the Foreign Service understanding that my job was to implement the foreign policy interests of this nation, as defined by the President and Congress, and to do so regardless of which person or party was in power. I had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals.

Then, as The Wall Street Journal reported, she went on to portray herself as the victim of a plot by corrupt Ukrainians in partnership with Americans to oust her because of her advocacy for rule of law issues in her role as ambassador.

“Individuals, who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do our mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting ambassador, using unofficial back channels,” she said.

“Not all Ukrainians embraced our anticorruption work. Thus, perhaps, it was not surprising, that when our anticorruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me,” she said.

“What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador,” Yovanovitch said.

“How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” she asked. “Which country’s interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail? Such conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin.”

“Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.”

She said that “with respect to Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani,”—the president’s personal attorney, who had traveled to the Ukraine to obtain “oppo research” on the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter—“I have had only minimal contacts with him …. None related to the events at issue. I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me.”

In describing her departure, the former ambassador said “I was … abruptly told … in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane.’”

She attributed the reason for her ejection to “Individuals , who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do the mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting Ambassador, using unofficial back channels. As various witnesses have recounted, they shared baseless allegations with the President and convinced him to remove his Ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect.”

And despite those false allegations, Yovanovitch made it clear that she had gotten no support from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noting, “It is the responsibility of the Department’s leaders to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution the most effective diplomatic force in the world. And Congress has a responsibility to reinvest in our diplomacy. That’s an investment in our national security, an investment in our future.

“These events, “the former ambassador told the House Intelligence panel, “should concern everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad, the personal representatives of the President. They should always act and speak with full authority to advocate for U.S. policies. If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States. This is especially important now, when the international landscape is more complicated and more competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

“Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American Ambassador who does not give them what they want. After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the Ambassador represents the President’s views? And what U.S. Ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they cannot count on our government to support them as they implement stated U.S. policy and defend U.S. interests?”

Research contact: @WSJ

One and done: U.S. maternity units see fewer twins, following decades of increases

October 4, 2019

Fewer U.S. mothers are “seeing double” on delivery day, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, the number of twins born in America dropped 4% from 2014 to 2018 after roughly three decades of increases, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Having twins heightens health risks for both the babies and the expectant mother, so specialists see the decline as good news. Researchers believe that the decline may reflect advances—such as the use of artificial intelligence— in reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilization, that result in fewer multiple births.

“I am elated,” Dr. Amanda Horton told the Journal. She is a maternal fetal medicine specialist for the online Maven Clinic who lives in Austin, Texas. “What I take away from this is that we’re working hard to ensure that families have the healthiest pregnancies possible.”

In the report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, published on October 3, the rate of twin births dropped to 32.6 from 33.9 for every 1,000 births, a difference of 11,800 fewer twin births in 2018 compared with 2014.

The drop occurred among white mothers aged 30-54, the Journal reports. The rate for black and Hispanic mothers and mothers under the age of 30 essentially remained unchanged.

Twin births in the U.S. started exploding in the 1980s, with an increase of 79% from 1980 to 2014.A change in maternal age may have influenced the increase, experts say, as women started having children later in life. Older mothers are more likely to have twins because they are more likely to release multiple eggs during one menstrual cycle, Dr. Horton said in an interview with the news outlet..

The early 1980s also saw the rise of assisted reproductive technology, especially in-vitro fertilization, after the first IVF baby was born in the U.K. in 1978. Between 1981 and 2015, more than one million babies were born in the United States with the help of reproductive technologies, according to a 2017 report from the CDC and the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).

With IVF technology, especially in the earlier years, families and physicians opted to transfer multiple embryos into a mother’s womb to increase the chance of pregnancy. That is no longer the case. Improved techniques for embryo freezing and genetic testing have bettered outcomes when transferring a single embryo.

CDC data show that the percentage of embryo-transfer procedures that transferred only a single embryo roughly doubled from 2013 to 2016 in all age brackets above 35 years old, and professional groups now recommend the practice in most cases.

Despite the decline, the rate of twin births today is still nearly double the rate in 1980.

Research contact: @WSJ

California passes landmark bill requiring gig workers to be treated as employees

September 12, 2019

California lawmakers passed a landmark bill (Assembly Bill 5 ) on September 10 that promises to reshape how the peer-to-peer ridesharing and food delivery industries do business.

The legislation passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and now moves on to the State Assembly, where if it passes, it will land on the governor’s desk.

The legislation, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, would require gig economy workers to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors, CNBC reports—affecting the operating plans on which Uber and Lyft base their current success.

But shares of Lyft popped more than 7.8% on Wednesday morning, while Uber climbed more than 4.5% after California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) told the The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he’s still engaged in talks with Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies about possible negotiations around the bill. Newsom recently voiced his support for the bill, the news outlet said.

Additionally, CNBC says, the bill has received broad support from Democratic presidential candidates—among them, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Kamala Harris (D-California), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).

The bill has the potential to change the employment status of more than 1 million low-wage workers in California, including those at DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart. It will make it harder for gig economy companies to prove that their workers aren’t staff, while ensuring key benefits and protections, like minimum wage, insurance and sick days.

But predictably, AB5 has attracted staunch opposition from gig economy companies. In an effort to push back against the bill, Uber and Lyft proposed establishing $21-an-hour minimum wage for drivers in California. The ride-hailing companies, as well as Doordash, have also pledged $90 million on a ballot initiative for the 2020 election that would exempt them from AB5.

Lyft spokesperson Adrian Durbin told CNBC that the bill has the potential to hurt drivers who prefer a flexible work schedule.

 “Today, our state’s political leadership missed an opportunity to support the overwhelming majority of rideshare drivers who want a thoughtful solution that balances flexibility with an earnings standard and benefits,” Durbin said in a statement. ”…We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers want and need.”

A DoorDash spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the decision, but said it was “committed” to establishing a guaranteed minimum wage, benefits, and other protections for its gig workers.

Representatives from Uber, Postmates and Instacart were not immediately available for comment.

Research contact: @CNBC

End of the road: FedEx to discontinue ground deliveries for Amazon

August 8, 2019

As Amazon continues to offer more products and faster shipments, most of its Delivery Service Partners are continuing to say “How high?” when the Seattle-based company asks them to jump.

But that’s not the case with Memphis-based Federal Express, which until recently had been among the company’s swiftest and most dependable contractors.

In fact, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, on August 7, FedEx announced that it would not renew its contract at the end of this month to deliver Amazon packages through its ground network—essentially severing ties with one of the world’s biggest shippers.

The shipping and logistics company already had discontinued its U.S. air deliveries for the e-commerce giant in June, but had said at that time that it would continue to handle ground deliveries and international shipments. Now just the global business remains.

The moves are evidence of escalating tensions between the longtime partners as the e-commerce giant builds out its own delivery services, the Journal said—including leasing cargo planes, buying trucks, and funding local delivery drivers.

“This change is consistent with our strategy to focus on the broader e-commerce market, which the recent announcements related to our FedEx Ground network have us positioned extraordinarily well to do,” FedEx commented.

The decision has come at a time when Amazon already is planning its holiday deliveries. The e-commerce company will have to find a new way to handle millions of packages ahead of the critical holiday shopping season at the same time it continues looking to speed home deliveries.

The once-staid delivery business has been upended in recent years as consumers buy everything from toilet paper to trampolines online, causing a surge in e-commerce shipments. FedEx and rival United Parcel Service have invested billions of dollars to handle the increased volumes. FedEx recently said it would expand to seven-day home deliveries, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Although Amazon ships millions of packages a day, it spreads the orders among FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as its own growing delivery operations. FedEx has said Amazon represented 1.3% of FedEx’s total revenue in 2018, or less than $1 billion.

Research contact: @FedEx

Trump aides see personal malice, not political strategy, in Twitter attacks on Baltimore, Cummings

August 2, 2019

After a week during which President Donald Trump was labeled a “racist” and a “white supremacist” for his affronts to “The Squad” of women of color in the House, the activist Reverend Al Sharpton, CNN anchor Don Lemon, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland—and the latter’s home district, Baltimore, which Trump described as “rat-infested and  a “living hell”— the POTUS was asked by the media to explain his strategy.

“There’s no strategy. I have no strategy. There’s zero strategy,” he told reporters on July 30. “It’s very simple.”

However, most political pundits believe that he did have two underlying reasons for the attacks. First, he believes that his denigration of Puerto Ricans, immigrants, blacks, and others of color builds the loyalty of his largely white base nationwide.

Second, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal,  Trump was “set off by last week’s decision by the House Oversight Committee,” which Cummings chairs, to subpoena top White House aides, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, for its probe into official emails and texts sent from personal accounts.

The news outlet also pointed to Cummings’ remarks at a news conference last week, at which he suggested further action against the administration was imminent. “There comes a point when silence becomes betrayal,” Cummings said, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.

“People know this is the president. He’s going to fight back,” said one campaign adviser. “It’s not a surprise to anyone as much as it was before.”

Cummings responded on Twitter: “I will continue to do every day what I am duty-bounded to do—help my constituents to live their best lives and serve as a check on the Executive Branch.”

While Trump’s supporters have not come out in defense of the president’s remarks, they also have not criticized him to any great degree. Indeed, the Journal reports, Trump campaign officials do not view the gibes against Cummings as damaging to the president’s odds of re-election. The campaign sees the president’s polling numbers as most vulnerable when voters perceive the White House to be in chaos, when Mr. Trump’s base of supporters dislike legislation he signs, and when the president is perceived as “punching down,” one adviser told the news outlet.

In direct opposition to what he, himself, has said publicly, the president repeatedly has  bragged about his record on behalf of African-Americans. On Tuesday, he said African-Americans had “been calling the White House” and were “happy as hell.”

Research contact: Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

Facial recognition goes to camp

July 31, 2019

 “Hello Mudddah, Hello Faddah, Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very entertaining.  And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.”

Those lyrics were written by comedian Allan Sherman—and produced as one of the most popular songs of 1963. Meant to satirize the sleepover camp experience through the eyes (and vocal cords) of a homesick child, the song is punctuated by the chorus, “Take me home, Oh Muddah, Fadduh, Take me home. I hate Granada.”

But the reality is that, when kids leave for summer camp for the first time (or any time), their parents miss them, too—and wonder what they are doing, if they are making friends, and if they are settling in. They wait anxiously for cards and emails—and check the camp’s daily photos for what they hope will be a happy and smiling face.

And that part is getting easier all the time: Summer camps across the country are allowing parents to  opt into facial-recognition services to receive photos of their camper without having to sift through hundreds of group shots for proof that little Susie is having a good time climbing ropes, The Wall Street Journal reported on July 30.

Camp photographers can upload photos to a service, where they are scanned and identified. Parents then receive photos of their kids via text or through a website.

Waldo Photos of Austin, Texas, Inc. is one of the services, now offered at more than 150 summer camps across the country. The service is starting to be adopted by schools and sports leagues, too.

Camps either pay for Waldo, themselves, and offer it to parents or they ask parents to pay directly at a price of $1 to $2 per child a day, the Journal reports. If parents want to sign up to receive photos through Waldo, they have to submit a reference photo of their child so that the artificial intelligence (AI )can detect a match. The images are stored until a parent asks for them to be deleted.

Is that a good thing?

Rodney Rice, Waldo’s founder, said the facial data the company uses to identify kids would be no good to anyone else. “The misperception is that facial recognition is a fingerprint. I could hand a 40-digit alphanumeric hash to Google or Facebook and they couldn’t do anything with it,” he said. “I’m a father of three and I’d have never started this business if I was going to be putting kids at risk.”

Privacy and cybersecurity experts say parents may well trust a company’s intentions, but what happens if the company changes hands? Waldo’s privacy policy contains the boilerplate legalese explaining that if the company were sold, its customers’ personal information could be transferred.

While commercial applications of facial-recognition software abound—and bear their own fair share of controversy—the fact that this latest wave is geared toward children has privacy experts and politicians urging parents, camps, and school districts to think twice.

Concerns over this precious data—children’s faces—range from accuracy to abuse, the Journal says. Could it one day be used for purposes other than that for which it’s currently intended?

In the movie, Minority Report, biometric systems created for marketing are commandeered to hunt down citizens suspected of wrongdoing. There’s no evidence of this happening yet, but as science fiction goes, it’s not too far-fetched.

“We’re in the very early stages of commercial, nongovernmental use of facial recognition and we shouldn’t be waiting until harms occur to do something, we should be acting now to mitigate the harms,” Nathan Sheard, a grass-roots advocacy organizer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the news outlet.

Facial data also is coming under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission—which earlier this month launched a review of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a 1998 law that requires children’s websites to obtain parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing a child’s personal information. The FTC now is seeking comment on whether the definition of “personal information” should be expanded to include biometric data.

The makers of facial-recognition software argue that concerns about the technology are overblown because people don’t really understand it. For these companies, facial data isn’t captured and stored as a usable image, but rather as lengthy chains of numbers and letters that can only be deciphered by proprietary software. Developers argue the data would be meaningless to anyone who doesn’t have their model.

“At some point we have to stop and ask ourselves whether the costs to our privacy are no longer outweighed by the benefits,” Sean McGrath, managing editor at ProPrivacy.com, a digital privacy advocacy group, told the Journal, adding,. “With facial recognition, more than any other technology, we’re at one of those watershed moments where we really need to step back and assess the bigger picture.”

Julie Jargon, a tech writer for The Wall Street Journal advises parents to ask the following questions before consenting to facial recognition for their children:

  1. Where will my child’s facial data be stored and for how long?
  2. Will the data be shared with third parties and, if so, what are their policies for storing and sharing the data?
  3. Are there purposes for the data other than what’s being advertised? For example, will my child’s facial data be used to train AI for law enforcement or corporate partners?
  4. What happens to my child’s data if the service provider is sold?
  5. What happens to the data if I decide I no longer want to use this service? Will it be deleted immediately?

Research contact: @WSJ

Left-leaning big tech is likely target of White House Social Media Summit

July 12, 2019

Ears must have been “ringing” at Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter on July 11—since the big tech companies, likely, dominated the discourse at the Social Media Summit at the White House scheduled for that date.

While the big four were not invited to the confab, The Wall Street Journal reported that the event would offer a platform for supporters of the Trump administration, who claim they face censorship from the left-tilting social media companies—as well as a preview of a likely theme in the president’s re-election campaign.

Attendees include the Claremont Institute think tank; the right-wing media company PragerU; and the Media Research Center, a nonprofit “media watchdog” committed to “neutralizing left wing bias.” Also expected to attend are more familiar Washington conservatives, including the Heritage Foundation, the news outlet said.

The companies declined to comment on the event, but have said in the past that they seek to police harmful or fake content without regard to politics.

“It’s all about 2020,” Paul Gallant, managing director of Cowen Washington Research Group for Technology, Media & Telecom,  told the Journal. He sees it as a stage for the president to tell “the base that the media and Internet companies are against us” as well as “pressuring Facebook, Twitter, and Google to tilt content in Trump’s direction.”

The event grew out of complaints the White House has received about bias online, a spokesman said.

“Earlier this year the White House launched a tool to allow Americans, regardless of their political views, to share how they have been affected by bias online,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere. “After receiving thousands of responses, the President wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media.”

In May, the White House briefly opened an official website for the public to share information about “action against your account” by social-media platforms. Last month it described Thursday’s event as “a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.”

Charlie Kirk, who leads the student group Turning Point USA, said in an interview with the financial news outlet that alleged bias by social-media companies resonates with the president’s supporters, calling it “one of the top, if not the top issue with people [who] I interact with on social media.”

Bill Mitchell, chief executive of YourVoice  made his first official White House visit at the event. Like others invitees, he told the Journal that he has seen anecdotal evidence that his pro-Trump videos and tweets should be reaching a larger audience. “We just want a level playing field so that everybody can have free speech,” he said.

But despite their enthusiasm for the cause,  neither the attendees nor the president will be able to effectively muzzle the big tech companies, experts think.

Trump “can’t do much” to change the way social-media platforms operate, said Sam McGowan, an analyst at Beacon Policy Advisers, a research firm based in Washington, D.C. “What he can do is hold these sorts of summits. …That in itself is a way to rally Trump’s base.”

The limited ability of President Trump to change the way social-media works was reinforced Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that his practice of blocking some users on Twitter violates the free-speech protections of the First Amendment.

Short of tangible action, calls to rein in tech firms could be a political winner on the campaign trail. In a March Wall Street Journal/NBC survey of 1,000 American adults, 54% said they weren’t satisfied with federal government regulation and oversight of social-media companies, compared with 36% who were satisfied and 10% who weren’t sure.

Research contact: ryan.tracy@wsj.com