(Mark Pellin, Headline USA) In a subversive plot to undermine the First Amendment, U.S. House Democrats pressured media network providers to de-platform conservative voices, and in at least two cases were successful in their efforts, according to top-ranking Republican lawmakers.
AT&T’s controversial decision to drop the Right-leaning Newsmax channel from its DirecTV offerings followed in the wake of an equally-controversial decision by the company last year to de-platform the conservative One America News Network. Both decisions followed directives and implied threats from House Democrats who wrote to AT&T, along with other major media carriers, demanding answers for why conservative news outlets were being allowed to spread what they labeled “misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies.”
“These phenomena undergird the radicalization of seditious individuals who committed acts of insurrection on January 6th, and it contributes to a growing distrust of public health measures necessary to crush the pandemic,” the Democrat lawmakers wrote.
“We are concerned about the role AT&T plays in disseminating misinformation to millions of its U-verse, DirecTV, and AT&T TV subscribers, and we write to you today to request additional information about what actions AT&T is taking to address these issues.”
Fast-forward and the actions AT&T took in response to the letter are self-evident, said Colorado GOP Rep. Ken Buck.
In 2021, Democrat members wrote to DIRECTV encouraging the censorship of OANN, Fox News, and Newsmax.
Two years later, 2 out of 3 of those networks are now deplatformed.
— Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) January 31, 2023
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why AT&T and DirecTV felt pressured to comply with committee demands,” Buck said Tuesday from the House floor.
“Simply put, Democrats on that committee disagreed with the content coming out of One America News Network and Newsmax, and decided they wanted them canceled,” said Buck, who noted that Newsmax is the fourth-highest rated news channel viewed by more than 25 million American. At least they used to be, Buck said.
“This is a clear case of free speech infringement and viewpoint discrimination,” he said. “Government colluding with telecommunications giants should chill us all.”
Buck wasn’t alone in calling out the blatant censorship and cancelation of conservative voices and media outlets.
“It’s not a coincidence,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said of the response to the warning shot fired by Democrat lawmakers. “This appears to be a coordinated effort between Democrats, DirecTV, and AT&T to deplatform conservative voices. Democrats of the Energy and Commerce Committee literally asked for this to happen in a letter.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., ripped the censorship efforts and vowed there would be consequences for suppressing free speech and depriving the public of legitimate news from a conservative perspective.
“This is not the first time we’ve seen this, and I’m afraid it won’t be the last,” she said, asking what would come next in the Left’s censorship crusade.
“Will the Weather Channel be cancelled next if they refuse to bow to the Left’s altar of climate change? What about the History Channel? We see on a regular basis the Left wants to erase history and deny truth,” Boebert said. “Americans are tired of cancel culture.”
In response, Boebert vowed to make it her “personal mission to strip the wasteful, ridiculous federal subsidies” the media titans receive.
“To AT&T, DirecTV and to all the woke corporations, this isn’t a threat, it’s absolutely a promise,” Boebert said.
AT&T and DirecTV officials have claimed that dropping the conservative news channels was simply a “cost-cutting” measure. Top-ranking Republicans in the U.S. Senate weren’t convinced and demanded answers and accountability.
“It appears that this decision may be the latest example of big business suppressing politically disfavored speech at the behest of liberal Democrats. We are writing to request detailed and specific information about DirecTV’s actions,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wrote in a letter that was signed by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee and Tom Cotton.
“Congress and the public have a right to know the extent to which DirecTV’s decision to drop Newsmax was politically motivated, including whether the company succumbed to pressure from administration officials or Democrats in Congress,” the lawmakers wrote.
I would cancel @DIRECTV for censoring @NEWSMAX but I already cancelled them for cancelling @OANN. I guess @DIRECTV doesn’t want conservative viewers so maybe we should all just quit their services and go elsewhere. https://t.co/KI4RWXJXsU
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 26, 2023