Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who wrote a letter with Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) asking cable providers if they planned to continue carrying conservative networks, claimed on Wednesday that Republican criticisms of her and McNerney’s letter are “red herrings.”
Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA), two members of the Communications and Technology subcommittee, sent letters to the leaders of several television providers, asking them if they plan to take action against Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News Network (OANN) for spreading “disinformation.”
The two Democrats asked:
Have you taken any adverse actions against a channel, including Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, for using your platform to disseminate disinformation related directly or indirectly to the November 3, 2020 elections, the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, or COVID-19 misinformation?
McNerney and Eshoo also 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?”
During a hearing on media and misinformation, Eshoo claimed she was merely raising questions. She also said the United States has a problem surrounding misinformation to the Constitution’s free speech protections. She said:
I would also like to state that the letter asks the companies questions. Now, I don’t know Mr. Turley if you find this so chilling that it’s actually glacial for Congress to ask strong, important questions — I think we owe that to the Ms. Urquiza, how do you answer to what was put out and her father is gone? I call them lies. You call that the open market? You call that competitive with a problem in this country it’s a large one, it’s a sticky wicket because of our Constitution, but we need to examine and be frank with each other about what is taking place in the country.
“I think we have a much broader audience because of the red herrings that have been raised or put out there,” she said.
“The idea that members asking questions violates the First Amendment is absolutely absurd; it’s our job to ask questions,” the California Democrat said.
Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, countered Eshoo during the hearing, charging that her and McNerney’s letter threatens free speech and the free press.
“Making a statement or asking a question at the end of it does not the change the import of the statements. Writing to these companies and saying, ‘Why are you still airing Fox?’ The fact that’s a question doesn’t hide the fact that it’s really meant as a rather audible statement” to get rid of these networks, Turley said.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.