Democrat lawmakers want to censor conservative media on cable TV and internet streaming services, citing reasons like misinformation and radicalization.
Jerry McNerney and Anna G Eshoo, Democrat representatives from the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, have sent letters to 12 satellite, cable, and online streaming companies. They’ve asked the companies to take action against the “misinformation” being spread through their services. The letter was sent to the top executives of Amazon, Comcast, Dish, Altice, Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Roku, Charter, Hulu, Cox, and Alphabet.
“Nearly half of Americans get their news primarily from TV. However, not all TV news sources are the same. Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm… Misinformation on TV has led to our current polluted information environment that radicalizes individuals to commit seditious acts and rejects public health best practices, among other issues in our public discourse,” says the letter.
Democrats asked the services whether they plan on carrying Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax on their platforms now and beyond the renewal date. Media outlets that are known to have a leftist, liberal bias were not mentioned in the letter.
Eshoo and McNerney accuse conservative media networks of promoting fake claims of election fraud that result in instigating people, leading to attacks like that of Jan. 6. The lawmakers also demanded an explanation from the service providers if they plan on carrying the channels in the future.
The letter has attracted widespread condemnation from experts who warn that the action reeks of authoritarianism. Brendan Carr, the Republican Federal Communications Commissioner, called the letter a “chilling transgression of free speech rights” that the American media enjoys as guaranteed by the constitution.
Jonathan Turley, professor at The George Washington University Law School, said that Congress does not have the right to bar TV channels like Fox News from being aired due to protections provided under the First Amendment. The fact that Congress is indirectly trying to censor them by putting pressure on cable and satellite providers is a cause of concern.
Saving America from censorship
The rising censorship of conservative content is making some people think of setting up an alternate IT infrastructure. One such person is Martin Avila, the CEO of Right Forge, which offers digital services to businesses on the center-right spectrum. In a recent op-ed, Avila stresses the need to create a second internet if the freedoms of America are to be protected.
“We’re creating an entirely self-reliant, self-contained vertical infrastructure. By controlling all the “means of production,” from the physical data centers to the hardware to the code, we are replatforming America and rededicating the internet—the greatest forum for debate and information exchange in human history—to the founding principles of our exceptional nation,” Avila writes in the op-ed.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether to hear a lawsuit filed by Republican Laura Loomer and lobbying organization Freedom Watch. They allege that big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple have been discriminating on ideological grounds and coordinating with each other in a manner that harms competition.
The platforms allegedly violated three laws: the District of Columbia Human Rights, the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the First Amendment.