MIAMI, Florida — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Breitbart News exclusively that he is opposed to a legislative proposal from many Democrats and some Republicans that would allow establishment media organizations to form cartels in negotiations with big tech companies.
In an interview here last week, Rubio said that he is concerned the proposal—while well-intentioned in his view—would allow the establishment media to engage in “greater collusion” with big tech companies from Silicon Valley.
Asked about the bill—called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA)—Rubio first stated he is concerned about the “monopoly” power of big tech companies. The JCPA bill would create a special antitrust exemption for media companies to allow them to collectively bargain with big tech companies in a manner that would otherwise be illegal so the media companies could try to force tech companies to pay them for content.
But many critics worry the bill, which has no favored nations clause, would allow big establishment media companies to create “cartels” that lead to special deals that leave out conservative and more independent publishers. Even if that problem was addressed, as proponents say they intend to try to do, the bill does nothing to address concerns that big tech companies could just escalate already ongoing efforts to remove from their platforms content from conservative and independent publishers of which they disapprove.
“The problem with tech is it’s not that they want to censor people per se necessarily because they—I think we already have censorship in non-tech media in what they report and the narratives they pursue,” Rubio said. “The issue is the monopoly. They are now the gatekeeper for the new public square. It is a concentrated amount of power in the hands of five or six big companies. There are five companies in America—if they decide to get together—if Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter all decide to get together, they can shut you down. They can shut anyone down. They can shut down the president of the United States. They can shut down anybody. That’s a lot of power concentrated in the hands of unelected, unaccountable individuals to completely cut somebody off from the public square and wipe you out. So that’s the big problem with that.”
Then, specifically about the JCPA, Rubio stated he is opposed to the legislation.
“In the case of the collective bargaining, yeah it sounds interesting, except it’s exactly what you said,” Rubio said. “That is, you could have some of the newspapers that are locally owned or owned by a conglomerate, they’ll cut their own deal. They’ll say ‘you’re right, we’re a credible, reputable news organization—collectively bargain with us for our content. But everyone else who challenges our narrative or our views, they get a different deal and you could even not promote their information if you want.’ So, like I said, the intent is good. But I think in practice it opens the door to greater collusion between big media and big tech.”
Rubio’s opposition comes as several other Republicans have joined the cause lining up against the bill. In the House, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) have announced public opposition to the plan. In the Senate, Rubio joins Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who announced her opposition to the proposal earlier in May.
It also comes as the bill’s chief GOP proponent, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), faces serious criticism inside the Republican Party amid the push for the legislation. Buck, as Breitbart News reported earlier in May, took thousands of dollars in donations from lobbyists and special interests pushing the bill, including PACs for companies that stand to benefit from it. A subsequent Politico investigation found even more donations to Buck from special interests, totaling more than $50,000.
Buck, meanwhile, defended Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as Republicans in the House ousted her as House GOP conference chair. Buck allowed Cheney to speak during a special order he led on the House floor against cancel culture, and then was one of only a handful of Republicans who stood up to defend her when McCarthy moved to remove her from the conference chair position. In conversations with media afterwards, Buck said he welcomed any criticism from former President Donald Trump over defending Cheney—something Trump spokesman Jason Miller highlighted on Twitter.
Rubio’s now public opposition to this legislation is yet another setback for those pushing the JCPA. Proponents of the bill had hoped to send it to markup in the House Judiciary Committee this month, but those plans were abandoned before any public announcement could be made that they would be proceeding with it. Since Democrats control the House, the bill would likely pass the House if sent through committee and onto the floor for a vote there. But since Democrats in the Senate cannot use a budget gimmick called reconciliation to pass this proposal through the Democrat-controlled upper chamber of Congress, they would need to win over at least 10 Republicans to get the bill past a Senate filibuster. As of now, only two U.S. Senate Republicans have signed onto the bill: Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Kennedy is the lead GOP co-sponsor in the Senate.
More from Rubio’s interview with Breitbart News in Miami is forthcoming.