Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the driving force behind efforts to secure a handout for Democrat media cronies through the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), appears to have abandoned her last-minute pivot to a “national security” argument for the bill after efforts to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) failed.
Klobuchar rolled out the national security argument Tuesday amid a massive backlash against plans to attach the JCPA, essentially corporate welfare for media companies, to the defense spending bill. “It is about our own national future and national security,” said Klobuchar.
“Local journalism is essential to our communities and our democracy, but one third of local papers that existed just twenty years ago will be shuttered by 2025. While the big tech platforms rake in a fortune using news content they don’t pay for, local news is in crisis. Our bipartisan bill gives local news a chance to negotiate on a level playing field for fair compensation for its work. Continually allowing the big tech companies to dominate policy decisions in Washington is no longer a viable option when it comes to news compensation, consumer and privacy rights, or the online marketplace. We must get this done.”
The problem for Klobuchar is that after a year and a half of debate about the JCPA, her old talking points have been repeatedly knocked down, not just by conservatives but also by progressives and media unions.
The picture Klobuchar paints, of struggling local newspapers being the main beneficiaries of this bill, have been repeatedly disproven. Media unions and organizations from across the political spectrum have pointed out that the biggest beneficiaries of the bill are going to be large conglomerates, in many cases owned by the same hedge funds that have bought up local newspapers around the country, only to shutter them or slash their staffing.
Furthermore, as Breitbart News has explained, the JCPA gives a massive advantage to the wealthiest and most powerful conglomerates that own multiple publications.
The bill also allows any news company to join a new cartel within 60 days of the announcement of its formation, meaning national conglomerates that own multiple outlets can dominate any new cartel by flooding it with members. Companies like Hearst, Gannett, Axel Springer SE, and Newscorp — all of which have pushed hard for the bill — would dominate decision-making in cartels, while small companies that do not own multiple news outlets would have virtually no sway.
On top of this, the bill contains multiple provisions that will allow media cartels to keep conservative and independent media out of the insiders’ club, allowing members to exclude other potential members based on virtually any criteria, so long as it is unrelated to the size or “viewpoint” of the publication.
But the “viewpoint” protection is a fig leaf: when conservatives are excluded or censored on social media and in other organizations, the decisionmakers always present the public with a viewpoint-neutral pretext: “disinformation,” “hate speech,” “safety,” and “election integrity” have all been used in recent years.
It is hard to imagine that a media cartel made up of the world’s biggest conglomerates wouldn’t use similar excuses to exclude conservative and independent media.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) appeared on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host and editor-in-chief Alex Marlow today. The controversial Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), which Rep. Steube co-sponsored in the House, was one of the topics raised on the show.
While Rep. Steube defended the general principle of the bill and backed up lead Republican co-sponsor Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), he agreed with some of the criticisms of the bill and said he is not “married” to its language or provisions.
In particular, Rep. Steube said he “doesn’t disagree” with a criticism of one of the core elements of the bill, financial handouts from Big Tech to the media industry, because it would create a disincentive for media companies receiving the handouts to investigate Big Tech.
“One thing that I think holds Big Tech accountable is that there is at least some level of journalism that’s done that targets Big Tech, and when Big Tech is literally cutting checks to media outlets, and they are negotiating how big those checks are going to be every so often as a big collective, that just seems like a formula for no more journalism to be done on big tech,” said Marlow. “Why would I investigate people who are creating a huge slush fund? I’m probably not going to investigate them quite as hard as the people who are giving me a bunch of money.”
“Yeah, I don’t disagree with that, and there’s things that Breitbart sees that can we change, or a bill idea that you guys have, I’m happy to look at that,” said Rep. Steube. “I’m certainly not married to the language in this bill, I’m just a co-sponsor, and I think Buck would probably be better able to articulate why he thinks this is important over things like what I want to do like doing away with the Section 230 liability protection.”
On the show, Marlow also outlined concerns that the media cartel(s) created by the JCPA will have the power to exclude independent outlets like Breitbart News.
“What gives you the confidence that when these media companies form a cartel, that Breitbart is going to be included?” asked Marlow. “I’ll tell you, working with other conservative outlets on certain things, we don’t all line up on stuff, and we’re certainly not going to get welcomed into any cartel that includes the New York Times or the Washington Post, and to be honest even the News Corp publications which do a lot of terrific work but they’re highly competitive people. I don’t think Rupert Murdoch is going to be negotiating on behalf of Breitbart with Big Tech, that just sounds entirely unrealistic.”
“I’m not married to one position or another,” responded Rep. Steube. “I’m certainly open to hearing both sides on this.”
The JCPA is an unusual bill in that cosponsors, who rarely back out or waver on bills they support, have done so on this one. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said he was “reconsidering” his support for the bill following a hearing with journalist Glenn Greenwald last year. And in September this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) withdrew his cosponsorship of the bill in the Senate.
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The JCPA has already attracted condemnation for its core elements, namely the transfer of wealth to already-wealthy media companies and the potential for the media industry to demand more censorship from Silicon Valley platforms.
But the China concerns, which are reportedly attracting attention on the Hill, add another twist to the story of a bill that has repeatedly been revived from the dead by media lobbyists over the past two years.
The JCPA creates a “must carry and must pay” scheme, forcing U.S. tech companies both to carry and pay for the content of news organizations through mandatory arbitration agreements.
The news organizations are not limited to U.S. ones, meaning the JCPA would require U.S. companies to carry and subsidize a range of publications that spread propaganda from foreign sources. This would open up the U.S. to increased foreign influence over American political and social movements, and increased exposure to CCP-supported narratives.
The potential to empower foreign adversaries is particularly extraordinary given that lawmakers are planning to attach it to the NDAA, a “must pass” bill that is meant to fund U.S. national defense.
There is a narrow exception in the JCPA carving out publications that are clearly “owned or controlled” by foreign powers. This very weak exception has not been revised since the JCPA was introduced and would instantly be abused by Russian, Chinese, and other foreign interests. “Owned or controlled” does not mean Chinese or Russian entities cannot partner or pay publications in other countries to carry their propaganda.
Adverse foreign interests will be able to leverage JCPA to convey propaganda to U.S. audiences, including by disguising their ownership of U.S.-facing publications, partnering with U.S. publications, and broadcasting foreign content on U.S. platforms.
Many of the publishers that would benefit from JCPA are currently carrying advertisements and affiliated content from entities that are owned, controlled, or influenced by the CCP and its affiliates. JCPA would effectively require U.S. platforms to carry CCP-promoted speech.
JCPA also damages U.S. competitiveness and strategic interests by primarily targeting U.S. companies and excluding foreign rivals from scope. This is why both the Trump and Biden administrations have challenged JCPA-style laws and proposals in Australia and Canada.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell has caved to outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and will allow the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to include the highly controversial media cartel bill the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), sources familiar with the matter told Breitbart News.
Over objections from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, the likely next speaker of the House come January 3 of next year, other congressional leaders acquiesced to lobbyist pressure and agreed to include the JCPA in the base text of the NDAA. McCarthy was the only member of congressional leadership to fight back against the inclusion, but was overruled three to one after McConnell caved.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) delivers remarks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks on the House floor at the Capitol in Washington, November 17, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
The JCPA has absolutely nothing to do with national defense, so the move—a swan song of sorts for Pelosi, who just announced she is leaving congressional leadership but retaining her House seat after Democrats lost the majority to the GOP in the midterm elections—is an egregious step for an outgoing leader of the past against precedent as the NDAA has generally been reserved just for national security matters.
Proponents of the JCPA have been struggling for over a year to move the controversial proposal through Congress, hitting roadblocks every step of the way in committee hearings and fierce opposition from Republicans like McCarthy and others including Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, and more.
That’s why lobbyists supporting the bill on behalf of deep-pocketed industry interests zoned in on two must-pass legislative vehicles in this lame duck session of Congress as last ditch efforts to pass it before the GOP formally takes control of the House next year: the NDAA or a spending bill like an omnibus spending bill currently also being negotiated.
But because the NDAA is proving to be more of a lift than previously thought, the prospects of an omnibus spending bill to fund the government are dimming in recent days—leaders may instead pursue a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at the year’s end—which makes the NDAA a more attractive prospect for these leaders to attach unrelated proposals like this JCPA one to force them through in the waning hours of this Congress into federal law.
The JCPA, essentially a transfer of wealth from Silicon Valley to the discredited and distrusted corporate legacy media, is highly controversial. Beyond the financial payouts to media companies, they will be able to form a “joint negotiating entity”—a cartel, immune from antitrust law—to negotiate with Big Tech companies on the “terms and conditions” for carrying their content.
Censorship is sure to be a frequent demand of media companies. Despite provisions in the bill that purportedly stop media companies from negotiating the suppression of any one competitor, there is nothing to stop them asking their content to be prioritized over broadly-drawn categories that are used as pretexts for censorship, like “disinformation.”
Breitbart News has closely covered how the bill continues to enable the censorship and sidelining of conservative media.
Even with the hastily-added Senate amendment aimed at addressing conservative concerns regarding collusion between the media industry and Big Tech on the censorship of competitors, the bill still contains plenty of ways for the cartel to sideline conservative media.
Provisions to ensure the cartel cannot discriminate on the basis of “viewpoint” are particularly unconvincing. The pretexts used by social media companies, “fact checkers,” and other arms of the corporate censorship apparatus are almost always viewpoint-neutral. No one is censored for being a conservative, say the censors: they are censored for “misinformation,” “hate speech,” “conspiracy theories,” and other purportedly viewpoint-neutral reasons.
Attaching unrelated provisions to any type of must-pass bill is a highly criticized practice, as it bypasses deliberation on the floor on the merits of the legislation, and adds controversy to what is normally uncontroversial among lawmakers—in this case, defense spending.
In using the NDAA to pass their bailout for media cronies, the Democrats have specifically undermined the bipartisanship of U.S. national defense.
Absent enormous backlash against the move in the Senate, Democrats and their frequent enabler, McConnell, will have been allowed to use a defense spending package to establish a government-approved gravy train from one set of wealthy, powerful corporations in Silicon Valley to another—the world’s largest and most powerful media companies.
The full text of the NDAA is expected to be released possibly as early as later on Monday.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell tried to move through the U.S. Senate a highly controversial plan called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) using a procedure called a “hotline,” Breitbart News has learned.
Before the close of business on Thursday, at least two GOP senators–including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)–objected to the effort and put a hold on the push. To stop a bill from being passed unanimously through the Senate via the “hotline” track, only one senator needs to object. Sources told Breitbart News that more Republican senators are racing to express opposition to the proposal, and they expect more holds to be placed in the coming hours and days ahead.
Jamming through such a controversial piece of legislation with this procedure in a lame duck session of Congress before the new Congress the American people elected in November’s midterm elections takes office on Jan. 3, 2023, would be a massive escalation in an already chaotic process for the JCPA the past two years.
The JCPA would carve out for establishment media outlets an antitrust exemption allowing them to form cartels to collectively bargain with Big Tech companies. Proponents of the plan argue it would even the scales and force the hand of Big Tech by making the tech giants pay media outlets for their content, but critics worry it could make many of the problems facing both industries much worse because of serious structural flaws in the bill.
Earlier this year, when the Senate Judiciary Committee moved to advance the bill, three different committee hearings were upended when an amendment offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) undercut the coalition of GOP and Democrat senators who came together to draft the initial plan. However, Cruz eventually relented and betrayed conservatives by giving the proponents of the JCPA what they wanted and allowing the bill to advance.
The lead sponsors on the bill are Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on the Democrat side and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on the GOP side. Kennedy’s support for this, and for moving on it during a lame duck session, which makes it even more controversial, could seriously hurt any chances he has at the governor’s mansion in Louisiana in the 2023, as Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has issued a clarion call to Americans to voice opposition to this legislation to their lawmakers. Landry is already running for governor and Kennedy may announce a campaign in the coming weeks or months ahead. If Kennedy runs, he would face Landry and whoever else runs in a jungle primary in November of next year.
Industry lobbyists pushing the JCPA ramped up their efforts last week and this week as this Congress enters its final month, and their hopes of getting this sweeping change to federal policy with regard to media and tech through Congress this year dwindle. The last ditch desperation push from industry insiders is putting heat on members of Congress, trying to get them to back the plan–or at least soften opposition–so they can get their handout through this year.
The pathways proponents might be able to get this structurally flawed legislation through Congress are limited in the final weeks before the new Congress takes over. They include trying to attach it to must-pass legislation like an omnibus spending bill or the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)–both of these paths seem less likely though still possible now that several GOP senators have formally expressed opposition to the plan during the hotline process–but also the senate could try to take up and pass the bill on its own as well.
Passing it via a standalone process would be complicated as well as a nasty and convoluted battle, and it would cost the Senate serious time in the final weeks of this year. The decision on whether to embark on such a monumental undertaking rests with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is balancing interests of several other Democrats in the remaining weeks that Democrats have a House majority.
House Democrats are expected to begin consideration of the proposal in the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday, with outgoing chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) taking up the plan for a mark up in committee next week.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a call to arms in an exclusive Breitbart News interview for Americans throughout Louisiana and across the country to begin burning down the phone lines and demanding their U.S. Senators oppose the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA).
“They beat it by calling their U.S. Senator, irrespective of whether they’re a Democrat or Republican, and saying ‘do not vote for this bill,’ but especially if they’re a Republican because if all the Republicans stuck together they couldn’t beat a filibuster,” Landry said. “They need 60 votes. Let me just add this one thing, think about this: This is a bill, this is Schumer’s bill right? Let me ask you a question: What party rails against big corporations, against monopolies? Who is the party who is allegedly for the little guy? Why in the world are the Democrats for this? If a Democrat is for this bill, a Republican should automatically say ‘no way I ain’t getting on that’ because it’s not good for anybody.”
The JCPA, a highly controversial proposal spearheaded by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and backed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, would hand media organizations a government-provided antitrust exemption to allow them to collectively bargain with Big Tech companies. While proponents argue that the cartels of media outlets the bill would create might stifle Big Tech’s power, critics worry that the bill would exacerbate the problem by empowering establishment media at the expense of more independent and especially conservative voices.
“It’s not surprising. The U.S. Congress won’t do anything with the drug cartels,” Landry told Breitbart News. “Why don’t they just give a couple other people cartels like Big Tech? Everything we’ve been fighting over in this last decade now in watching the rise of Big Tech and seeing the destruction and the manipulation those platforms can inflict on the American people, of course Congress—which is supposed to be our guardians—is going to just let them in and give them more power? This is absolutely a train wreck. No Republican should be on record in supporting this. None. It doesn’t matter who they are. There should not be one Republican U.S. Senator supporting this. In fact, I would argue there should be no U.S. Senator period both on the Republican or the Democrat side. I mean, because, think about where we were—it shows me where we are after a hundred years ago with the rise of the trusts and we had to go through a whole litany of federal laws to break up the monopolies and the trusts back then. Now, here we are and what we’re going to do is create some media cartel? While, think about this, at the same time the U.S. Senate is thinking about giving the media—certain people, certain sections of the media—antitrust exemptions, there are two attorneys general including one who’s getting ready to go into the U.S. Senate who are right now in court showing how the government colluded with social media. Now think about what the government can do when they combine themselves with a media cartel?”
The only way this bill passes Congress in the next few weeks during a last-ditch push by well-funded lobbyists is if Republicans in the U.S. Senate cave again to Democrats. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to, through Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), mark up the bill next week. From there, it is likely to be considered by the full House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate, meanwhile, has already passed the bill out of the Judiciary Committee after a protracted and nasty standoff produced a compromise earlier this fall. A great betrayal of conservatives by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) paved the way for the panel to clear the proposal, as an amendment by Cruz adopted in the committee after a weeks-long showdown helped the bill move forward. Cruz had originally been opposed to the plan but caved and helped Democrats advance the controversial proposal in committee shortly thereafter. But Cruz’s shocking turn against conservatives is hardly the only surprise move Republicans have made to help the Democrat agenda on this proposal over the past two years.
Landry, who is running for governor of Louisiana in the 2023 election, speaking out so aggressively is significant because in addition to Klobuchar being the lead Democrat sponsor of the bill in the U.S. Senate, the lead GOP sponsor is Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican whose colorful personality often lands him Fox News airtime, has been for the last two years working with Klobuchar to champion this bill that would in effect create more censorship of conservatives and deepen the establishment media’s already deep ties with Big Tech. Kennedy is reportedly considering his own run for governor of Louisiana—if he runs he would face Landry and anyone else who runs in the November 2023 jungle primary—but pushing this bill in the lame-duck session of Congress could severely harm Kennedy’s political prospects and undercut any hope he has of winning the governor’s mansion in Louisiana.
What’s particularly wild and unorthodox about this current push by industry insiders to salvage this proposal — which would completely upend the media and tech industries — is that they are doing it right after the 2022 midterm elections and before the new Congress takes office in what is called the lame duck session of Congress, where the old, just-ousted members serve for a few more weeks before leaving on Jan. 3, 2023. Proponents of the JCPA have two years to move the proposal and have repeatedly failed, but now in a last-ditch, desperate push, they are trying to jam through the large-scale plan during the lame-duck session. There are several pathways through which they could do it, such as by attaching it to a must-pass bill like the government funding vehicle that will be coming down the pipeline later in September or to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — even though this has nothing to do with defense policy. Or Democrats and their GOP enablers like Cruz and Kennedy could try to pass it on its own out of both the House and Senate. To achieve congressional passage through any of these pathways, though, Democrats would need at least 10 Senate Republicans to vote for the plan—either via a must-pass bill that it is attached to or as a standalone bill—to get past a Senate filibuster.
Landry is warning Republicans in the U.S. Senate to not give in and let the Democrats have this win. Since they had two years to get it done and failed, he argued Republicans should not enable a broken process by advancing this plan during the lame-duck session of Congress.
“Listen, that’s what they do in Congress. I just literally two weeks ago won a case at the Fifth Circuit—two cases—where in the dark of night in the COVID relief package two years ago or three years ago they tucked in a complete takeover of the horse racing industry by the federal government, which we just litigated, with no committee hearings, no debate,” Landry said. “That’s what they do at the end: They stick all these things in these big omnibus bills and short-circuit the normal process. You know why? It’s a telltale sign that it is bad for America and bad for the American citizens. Anytime they do that it’s ‘yup, that’s an automatic bad piece of legislation.’”
Kennedy’s catchy soundbites aside, his decision to side with Democrats here could hurt him big time back home if he decides to run for governor. With Landry’s very public opposition to this controversial proposal, if Kennedy does not back down immediately and withdraw support of the JCPA—and block Democrats’ efforts to jam it through in the lame duck before the incoming House GOP majority elected in the 2022 midterms takes office—this issue would very clearly become a major one in the 2023 governor race in Louisiana should Kennedy decide to run. What’s more, if Kennedy champions the flawed proposal through and it makes it into law, the American public will see by November 2023 just how problematic the JCPA is because by then, its structural issues would become apparent—and Kennedy will have been responsible for decimating conservative media if that’s how it plays out. In other words, while Kennedy may be able to hide behind talking points and platitudes for now, he will not be able to continue to do so if this comes to pass—and he has an off-ramp, blocking his own bill and muddling the process between now and the end of the year so that the new House GOP majority can fix it next year.
Landry, on the other hand, implicitly understands the stakes here and said this legislation would absolutely lead to more censorship of conservatives and represent the “end of the freedom of the press” in America.
“Let me tell you what that is: That bill is the end of the freedom of the press. The problem we got today, I hate to say this, is that Rush Limbaugh is dead,” Landry said. “If Limbaugh was alive, he would be destroying this bill from his microphone. This is exactly the kind of issue that folks like him—and thank God for y’all, okay?—that he would be exposing. Think about it in the context of the freedom of the press. What this bill basically does is it basically says there really is no freedom of the press anymore, it’s just freedom of a group of people who call themselves the press. It’s freedom of the press cartel, right? Who else would have access? Because, again, the virtual marketplace is controlled by the tech giants. Now they’re going to be embedded with the media giants? Really? What’s left for the average citizen to have an honest discussion about what’s going on in the country? That’s what we’re litigating in Louisiana in the censorship. Once you weld government to the monopoly of the media, there is no more freedom because there’s no exchange of ideas.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, appeared on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with Alex Marlow today, laying into the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) and questioning why Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is attempting to rescue the derided media cartel bill.
“I’m not sure why the Senator did that, I do plan to talk to him,” Rep. Jordan, who has opposed the media cartel bill since its inception over a year ago, told Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlow.
“We call it the media cartel bill,” said Marlow. “It’s giving an antitrust exemption to media so they can collectively bargain with tech giants, and this will supposedly get them paid for their content, I think it’s going to be a payola scheme where Big Tech will pay off whatever outlets they like the most.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
“You said it right, Big Media is going to team up with Big Tech, and they’re going to come after conservative outlets getting the truth out there like you guys. Remember, the cartels that form get to define and determine the terms on who gets in,” said Jordan.
“So, do you think the New York Times and Washington Post and Google are going to want Breitbart to be in? In fact, Lina Khan who’s over at the FTC and who is going to administer all this, she’s said of Breitbart, ‘they’re out there putting out disinformation.’”
“This is all in line with what we saw in the runup to the 2020 election, where it wasn’t the FTC, but it was the FBI going to Big Tech and teaming up… to limit information to the people. This whole alliance between Big Government, Big Tech, and Big Media to keep we the people from getting the facts and the truth is a problem, and I see this [the JCPA] in that same vein.”
Jordan explained how some Republicans were swayed by lobbying efforts, which misrepresented the bill as support for struggling local newspapers as opposed to the national conglomerates that largely own them.
“Some of them get in by ‘oh, we want to help your small town newspaper,’ you know, the days when the newspaper actually covered the news and wasn’t just propaganda… So I think there’s some nostalgic feeling for that.”
“We had this hearing a little over a year on, we brought in Clay Travis and Glenn Greenwald. It was funny, as the hearing went on, there were even some people who would co-sponsor the bill who, during this hearing, ‘You know, I’m having second thoughts.’ Because we started to spell it out.”
“They define who’s professional news — that’s one of the terms. The bias they have against folks like you guys who are putting out the truth, the facts. Remember, this is the same kind of mindset that gave us the whole ‘disinformation governance board.’ This is that concept, in my mind.”
“It is a way to structure government, and create these cartels, where they’re going to go after the little guys, they’re going to define it so you can’t even get in the cartels, and then they’re going to go after you and make life even more difficult for us in the conservative movement.”
“We see this time and time again, we saw it in the runup to the 2020 election, we see it when they tried this ‘governance board’ with Nina Janckowicz. I think it’s a dangerous road to go down, that’s why we’ve opposed it so far.”
“Let’s hope this is not going to get through this congress, and then what happens on November 8th is what I think is going to happen, then we can make sure this kind of legislation doesn’t pass.”
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) was saved from legislative oblivion yesterday after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) worked with the Democrats to rescue it, based on the false claim that the media and Big Tech are opposed to each other. But, as Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have pointed out, nothing could be further from the truth.
The media cartel bill, said Blackburn in her earliest critiques of it, gives “even more power to the mainstream media and Silicon Valley.” More recently, she said the bill would allow “the liberal media and Silicon Valley to silence conservatives.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
US Senator Ted Cruz (Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Marco Rubio, similarly, has said the bill “Opens the door to greater collusion between big media and big tech.”
These critiques expose a fundamental weakness in a key argument made by the JCPA’s supporters, including Sen. Cruz. According to them, the media and Big Tech are opposed to each other.
In fact, the two entities have been working hand-in-glove for years to suppress independent media and control the flow of information on behalf of elites. The JCPA, which would allow the media to form a joint negotiating entity to collude with Silicon Valley, simply exacerbates that long-running trend.
There was a time, fast approaching the outer limits of generational memory, when the New York Times and CNN and other such media titanshad to compete on an even playing field with independent creators.
If an independent creator got a million views overnight, that blogger would likely be on the front page of relevant Google searches and at the top of your Facebook feed.
Videos from independent creators recording from their parents’ spare rooms would routinely outrank CNN and NBC in YouTube search results.
Ordinary users could start Twitter hashtags and meaningfully elevate them, giving ordinary people unprecedented influence over the national conversation.
For a moment, it seemed like the slow, centralized, dinosaur brands of the legacy media were destined for the dustbin, outmatched and outcompeted by tens of thousands of independent voices.
That moment, which spanned the first half of the 2010s, now seems like a distant memory. Why? Because Big Tech colluded with Big Media to rig the playing field.
It doesn’t matter if content from CNN and the New York Times is less organically popular than content from independent creators. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will force it onto your front page regardless of its organic momentum.
Google and Facebook do this via their prominently-displayed news tabs, where only handpicked sources are allowed to appear.
Twitter does it via the “what’s happening tab.” Formerly a list of trending hashtags driven purely by user activity, it now force-feeds you content from handpicked “authoritative” news sources, along with a few hashtags that aren’t deemed to be worthy of suppression.
On top of this, every major platform now employs armies of partisan “fact checkers”: a kind of digital stasi that hunts down alternative sources of news, identifying wronkthinkers so the platforms can then suppress them. The tech companies don’t even try to conceal that this ecosystem is a tool for the legacy media companies to suppress their competition: USA Today, for example, is a Facebook fact-checker.
It is against this backdrop – years of collusion between Big Tech and Big Media to suppress the latter’s competition – that Republicans like Ted Cruz have thrown their support behind the JCPA, which is a free pass for still further collusion. It is a supreme betrayal of voters who want the discredited legacy media replaced, not rescued.
Perhaps the Republican Senators who support this bill are hoping their voters are, by now, simply desensitized to betrayal. It would be a dangerous gamble to make, this close to the midterms.
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