Exclusive — Marsha Blackburn Opposes Establishment Media Cartel Plan: Will ‘Make It Even Easier’ for Big Tech to ‘Censor Conservative Voices’

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., watches election returns in her race for the U.S. Senate with former Gov. Phil Bredesen Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Franklin, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Breitbart News exclusively that she is opposed to a proposal called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), which would allow establishment media outlets to form a cartel to pressure big tech companies for more censorship and special favors with a special media antitrust exemption.

The proposal, which has been offered in both the House and Senate, is beginning to face serious and growing GOP opposition, with Blackburn joining a now growing list of conservatives to publicly oppose the bill. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) have already come out against it.

“The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will give even more power to the mainstream media and Silicon Valley,” Blackburn told Breitbart News. “We need to protect our small newspapers and ensure they are compensated for their content. This will allow big tech to further consolidate power and make it even easier to censor conservative voices on social media.”

Blackburn’s opposition to the legislation is another blow to the effort to create this antitrust exemption for establishment media companies, a charge being led by Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ken Buck (R-CO).

Buck, it turns out, has received at least $18,000 from lobbyists, special interest groups, and PACs for organizations that stand to financially benefit from the JCPA, as Breitbart News reported earlier this week.

The Senate companion bill is led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA).

The controversial proposal is the brainchild of a group called the News Media Alliance. That organization, a membership-based 501(c)6 group as classified by the IRS, has as board members executives for a number of establishment media companies.

Proponents of the legislation say it will allow media organizations to band together and collectively bargain to press big tech companies to pay them for content used on their platforms. But, critics say a number of flaws in it—including the lack of a favored nations clause and the lack of usage standards—will make it so that establishment media companies can band together and create deals with big tech companies that exclude smaller and more independent publishers, especially conservative media. Even if a favored nations clause was added to the proposal, though, nothing in it would stop big tech companies from pushing out conservative media outlets even more than they already are doing.

Blackburn’s opposition to the plan comes as a number of other Republicans are planning to fight it, Breitbart News has learned, and several Senate aides in a number of other GOP offices have signaled growing discontent with the proposal. In other words: expect more Republicans to come out against this in the coming days.

Since the Democrats have slim majorities in both the House and the Senate—they can only afford to lose a handful of votes in the House and still pass bills, and in the Senate they need to actually flip 10 Republicans to support proposals like this that cannot use reconciliation to get around the filibuster—any and all growing GOP opposition to this plan severely imperils it. Just 41 Republican senators could doom the package once and for all, and while Blackburn is just one, the discontent across the GOP conference in the Senate is real and growing.

Blackburn, a credible conservative voice who has led efforts to fight big tech, also undercuts arguments from some proponents of the proposal that the JCPA legislation is “conservative” or against big tech in any way. Critics of the plan understand that the JCPA is not “conservative” legislation–it is backed primarily by Cicilline, who just a few months ago was hand-picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be a House Democrat impeachment manager against now former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial–and it does not rein in big tech.

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