One of the most overt attacks on free speech in modern American history has been initiated by the House Democrats.
On Monday, both Democratic Leaders, Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, asked television companies to respond to them about what media channels they chose to carry on their platforms. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Apple, and Amazon were among the following cable television and major tech giants.
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The Democrats wanted to know, explicitly, if they planned to continue to carry Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News.
“SCOOP: Congressional Dems sent a letter to Comcast, Amazon, Google, ATT & others asking them to know what they intend to do about the “spreading of dangerous disinformation” from Fox News, OAN and Newsmax, including whether they will continue to carry it,” Rachel Abrams posted from the Times.
Are you going to continue carrying Fox News, OANN and Newsmax both now and after the renewal date on your platform? “asked the letter. If so, why? Why? ”
To justify their channel bundles, Fox News responded to the outrageous pressure of the House Democrats on cable providers.
“In a statement, the network said, “For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and insist that cable providers indulge in discrimination from a point of view sets a horrible precedent. The letter was also slammed by Newsmax as a ‘assault on free speech.’
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr blasted the attempt of the House Democrats to strong-arm these businesses into shutting down opposition and bringing only the political material accepted by the House Democrats.
“Today, two senior Democrats selectively targeted a handful of news media outlets on the House Energy and Commerce Committee for their coverage of political events,” notes Carr’s message. “The Democrats send a message that is as clear as it is difficult by writing letters to the cable providers and other regulated entities that carry these news media outlets. These regulated entities will pay a price if the targeted newsrooms do not conform to the preferred political narratives of the Democrats.”
This is a chilling breach of the freedom of speech rights enjoyed by any media outlet in this country,” the declaration adds.”
“Debate should be robust, uninhibited and wide open on public interest issues,” Carr continues. Better than less is more voice. But Democrats’ systematic attempt to drive political opposition from the public square reflects a marked deviation from these values of the First Amendment.
The decision of a newsroom on what stories to report and how to frame them should be beyond the control of, not targeted by, any government official.
“I would say this to the House Democrats who used their official letterhead to launch this inquiry: your request to know the “moral values” that guide the decision of a private entity on what news to carry can not be reconciled with the fundamental principles of free speech and journalistic freedom,” he added.
“In publicly denouncing this attempt to stifle political speech and independent news judgment, I call on my FCC colleagues to join me.”
Appointed under the Trump administration, Brendan Carr was overwhelmingly confirmed by the U.S. From the Senate.
It will be important to see if any Biden appointees take such a bold stand against government-led restrictions on free expression, particularly given the recent purge of public officials who are not ideologically confirmed by the administration.
It is clear that Democrats plan to use strong regulatory arms to efficiently enforce a government strategy of restricting free expression by media corporations and big tech suppliers. This is obviously a danger to, and should be viewed as such, the Fundamental rights afforded to all Americans.