Now that Democrats are in charge in Washington, critics say they've started to mimic Big Tech censorship, using their power to go after those who don't see things the way they do, especially on social media and cable news. That concern is partly fueled by a new effort to target right-leaning TV news outlets for cancelation.
On Wednesday, the Democrat-led House Energy and Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a virtual hearing on disinformation and extremism in the media.
"The prolonged severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attack on our Capitol on January 6 have driven home a frightening reality: the spread of disinformation and extremism by traditional news media presents a tangible and destabilizing threat," Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) said in a statement.
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"Some broadcasters' and cable networks' increasing reliance on conspiracy theories and misleading or patently false information raises questions about their devotion to journalistic integrity. We look forward to hearing from media experts about what is being done and what more can be done to address this growing problem moving forward," the statement continued.
The Washington Examiner reports Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, two California Democrats who both sit on the committee, sent a letter to multiple TV service providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Charter, DISH, Cox, Altice, and Hulu as well as Google's parent, Alphabet, asking them why they carried the three "purported" news outlets that they say function as "misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm."
In the letter, Eshoo and McNerney asked, "Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN on U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why?"
Many Democrat lawmakers think the rioters who stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6 were directly influenced by these three media outlets.
"Right-wing media outlets, like Newsmax, One America News Network (OANN), and Fox News all aired misinformation about the November 2020 elections," the California representatives wrote. "These same networks also have been key vectors of spreading misinformation related to the pandemic."
Fox responded to the lawmaker's accusations in a statement to the Examiner: "As the most-watched cable news channel throughout 2020, FOX News Media provided millions of Americans with in-depth reporting, breaking news coverage, and clear opinion. For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and demand cable distributors engage in viewpoint discrimination sets a terrible precedent."
Newsmax also expressed their concern over the House Democrats' blatant attack on free speech.
"The House Democrats' attack on free speech and basic First Amendment rights should send chills down the spines of all Americans," Newsmax told Politico.com. "Newsmax reported fairly and accurately on allegations and claims made by both sides during the recent election contest. We did not see that same balanced coverage when CNN and MSNBC pushed for years the Russian collusion hoax, airing numerous claims and interviews with Democrat leaders that turned out to be patently false."
Republicans responded to the letter, saying this could be interpreted as a warning to newsrooms across the country.
Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, called out the two California representatives in a statement, saying, "By writing letters to the cable providers and other regulated entities that carry these news media outlets, the Democrats are sending a message that is as clear as it is troubling -- these regulated entities will pay a price if the targeted newsrooms do not conform to Democrats' preferred political narratives."
Carr tweeted his statement, giving it the headline: "What time does the Democrats' book burning party start?"
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) February 22, 2021
Journalists also noted the Democrats' efforts to allegedly control the media's narrative.
In a tweet on Monday, author and journalist Glenn Greenwald noted this move, writing "There is no reasonable dispute that one of the top agenda items of Democrats now that they control the WH & Congress is to use their power to police and censor both social media and cable news. They're saying it explicitly."
Greenwald also retweeted journalist Michael Tracy's tweet about the statement made by Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland during his Senate confirmation hearing on Monday. Tracy wrote, "Garland says he is eager to help Congress craft legislation to combat 'misinformation and incitement online,' which according to Sen. Coons will be a top priority for Dems. They all agree: fighting 'domestic extremism' is synonymous with more aggressively regulating the internet."
There is no reasonable dispute that one of the top agenda items of Democrats now that they control the WH & Congress is to use their power to police and censor both social media and cable news. They're saying it explicitly. https://t.co/cfMHavJP6K
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 22, 2021
Greenwald also tweeted regarding why former President Trump's social media accounts were frozen because the executives of Big Tech knew after the Democrats won the Georgia Senate races, who would be regulating them.
In this mega-viral tweet, this long-time and very close aide to the Clintons made clear why Trump was booted off social media: it happened right after Dems won Georgia, and Silicon Valley knew Dems would exercise vast power over them, so pleased them:https://t.co/v9V9uo1gaa
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 22, 2021