Exclusive — Sen. Tom Cotton Opposes Media Cartel Plan: ‘Would Mean More Censorship of Conservatives’

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 5: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) walks through the Senate Subway after a vote at the U.S. Capitol on January 5, 2022 in Washington, DC. Congress is preparing will mark the one year anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot on Thursday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) formally announced his opposition to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) on Wednesday ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing on the bill.

“Creating a media cartel would mean more censorship of conservatives,” Cotton said in a statement his office provided to Breitbart News. “We don’t need a journalism bailout. This bill is deeply flawed and I’ll work to make sure it’s defeated.”

Cotton is a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate and of the subcommittee on antitrust matters that will consider the proposal on Wednesday. A slew of experts—some in favor, and some against—are expected to testify as proponents of the controversial plan look to generate momentum behind the idea that has been stalled since last spring as efforts to push it failed in the House.

The JCPA is a highly controversial proposal pushed in the Senate primarily by lead sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) but also a handful of Republicans like Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and would create a carve-out in federal antitrust law to allow media companies to collectively bargain with big tech companies.

Proponents of the bill argue it would force big tech giants like Google and Facebook to profit share with media outlets for content that is shared on their platforms, but critics worry the proposal has several shortcomings and that it would in essence allow establishment media outlets to create cartels of their own thereby solidifying control of the marketplace boxing out independent publishers.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) walks through the U.S. Capitol Building on December 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The proposal is pushed in large part by an industry lobbying group known as the News Media Alliance, which counts among its board members executives of many top media companies like Fox News’s parent company News Corporation, Politico’s German parent company Axel Springer, USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many, many other media outlets. Those companies hope the proposal passes because they want to collectively bargain with big tech companies, theoretically hoping they would get a big payday at the end of it.

However, the proposal has several loopholes and flaws in it that would hurt more independent publishers. It has no favored nations clause, meaning that specific media companies or groups of media companies—cartels—can negotiate their own deals with big tech companies and leave out media outlets they do not want to be part of the deal. Given the way establishment media outlets have treated conservative media outlets, some more independent-minded liberal media outlets, and just generally anyone who challenges the orthodoxy of the narrative that the establishment media is pushing at any given time, it is unlikely to think that any of them would change their behavior upon adoption of this proposal.

Cotton’s now public opposition to the JCPA proposal comes in the wake of other GOP senators like Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) having announced their opposition to it last year in interviews with Breitbart News. Blackburn reaffirmed her opposition on Wednesday morning on Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel this week ahead of the hearing. Other Republicans, like Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), are expected to announce their opposition to the legislation soon perhaps at Wednesday’s hearing as well, and will fight it, sources familiar with their plans say.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) and his family stand before placing flowers during a centennial commemoration event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on November 9, 2021. (ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

On the House side, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ranking member of the full House Judiciary Committee, has been aggressively fighting this proposal and is joined by top Republicans like House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy who announced opposition to it last year.

A Senate Judiciary Committee GOP aide told Breitbart News that GOP senators are now learning just how flawed this proposal is, and predicted even some cosponsors or previous supporters of the bill would drop their support from it and instead announce opposition to it.

“Committee members are just now realizing that this bill would let the New York Times decide what other news organizations are allowed to publish on Facebook,” the Senate Judiciary Committee GOP aide said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “This is a path to even worse censorship. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for this bill, and as senators as learning what it does they will oppose this journalism bailout. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing sponsors drop off this bill.”


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