During an interview left-wing outlet Axios, former Parler CEO John Matze stated that he didn’t want to strike a deal with President Donald Trump to bring the President onto Parler because Trump “might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted.” Matze did not specify what bullying he was afraid Trump might perpetrate against Parler staff.
According to Axios, Matze stated, “I didn’t like the idea of working with Trump, because he might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted. But I was worried that if we didn’t sign the deal, he might have been vengeful and told his followers to leave Parler.”
The Trump team reportedly pushed for a 40% stake in Parler during negotiations which ultimately fell through.
Following the banning of President Trump from Facebook and Twitter, Parler was taken offline after being denied hosting by Amazon Web Services.
Various reports of user data being obtained by Antifa circulated on social media, and Matze was ultimately fired by the Parler board of directors.
In a statement, Matze insinuated that the Mercer family was responsible for his removal from Parler:
“I did not participate in this decision,” Matze said. “I understand that those who now control the company have made some communications to employees and other third parties that have unfortunately created confusion and prompted me to make this public statement,” he added, noting that Rebekah Mercer controls the board.
Matze claimed that he had met “constant resistance” to his vision for Parler, including his “strong belief in free speech” and how the site should be managed. “
Parler co-owner Dan Bongino pushed back against Matze’s claims in a Facebook livestream last week, claiming that Matze was “no white knight in this story” and “his vision was not ours”:
However, in a fiery Facebook Live video, Dan Bongino, the conservative commentator and one of three co-owners of Parler, said that he had to “correct the record,” and that Matze’s statements were totally false. “I have no personal gripe against John at all, but John decided to make this public,” Bongino said, claiming that they had previously been handling it “like gentlemen.”
Bongino slammed Matze’s statement, which he described as an “outrageous attack” on “people who have done nothing but work day and night to get this site back up, and to fight back against these cancel culture goons, and to get kneecapped like this by someone we trusted, is a disgrace,” saying that Matze is “no white knight in this story.”
It remains unclear if Parler will come back online, and if so, whether will be able to salvage its reputation with its primarily pro-Trump, conservative user base.