Back from the Dead: Lobbyists Resuscitate JCPA, Zombie Corporate Media Cartel Bill

Mark Zuckerberg Smiles during testimony (Pool/Getty)
Pool/Getty

Desperate to fend off online competition, lobbyists for corporate media companies have once again revived efforts to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), a bill that would create a media cartel in the United States, capable of collectively pressuring Big Tech companies to bail them out financially.

The bill, previously in limbo, was scheduled for markup this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is being held over until September.

Newsmax has now lined up behind a bill that would force tech companies to give more revenue to the likes of BuzzFeed, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, which have spent the last year and a half branding the conservative movement as insurrectionist enemies of democracy.

Christopher Ruddy

Newsmax boss Chris Ruddy (ABC/Screenshot)

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

 (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Defenders of the bill have said it is meant to bail out local news outlets — but many of those are owned by the same national and international conglomerates whose publications have pushed fake news like the “Russiagate” narrative.

Chris Ruddy, the owner and CEO of Newsmax, published an article on the channel’s website defending the JCPA, arguing it is a gift to conservative media — despite its creation of a media cartel that can strike collective bargains with the tech companies, including on issues like censorship and algorithm manipulation.

On that front, the media has overwhelmingly supported the censorship of independent media and the artificial amplification of their own content, going so far as to whip up advertiser boycotts against Facebook for not censoring enough conservative content.

A day after Ruddy’s article, Newsmax published a second piece pushing the cartel bill, from Internet Accountability Project (IAP) founder Mike Davis.

The IAP is a Washington D.C. advocacy group that has aligned itself with the enemies of Big Tech — but many of the enemies of Big Tech, like the big media companies pushing this bill, are not necessarily the enemies of censorship.

As Breitbart News previously reported, before he was a crusader against Big Tech, Davis was trying to work for Google as its liaison to GOP legislators.

Davis’ piece echoes Ruddy’s incredibly closely, almost as if it’s simply a re-write of Ruddy’s piece. It even begins with the same folksy story of a newspaper on your front porch.

From Ruddy’s article:

Gone are the days of paper boys on bicycles hurling newspapers onto your doorstep.

Today your news is most likely delivered to you by Big Tech billionaires who control what you see, suppress news they don’t like — and they even make amazing money in the process.

From Davis’ article:

Twenty years ago, you likely went to your front porch to pick up your newspaper in the morning or flipped on your TV to catch the news before work.

Ten years ago, you likely went to your favorite news website directly to see what was happening in your community and across the country.

Now, you likely peruse Facebook, Twitter, Google, or YouTube for the latest happenings.

The JCPA’s advocates, which include the largest and most liberal media companies in the world, know they need ten Republican Senators to pass any bill.

So they have pitched the legislation to conservatives as a blow against Big Tech, even though it would deepen collusion between Big Tech and the corporate media, which has relentlessly pushed for censorship over the past five years.

The fact that the bill enables more collusion between the media and Big Tech companies has been pointed out by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both of whom oppose the bill.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has also come out against the bill, pointing out it would lead to more censorship of conservatives.

The House GOP leadership has also opposed the bill, with GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) denouncing it as the “antithesis of conservatism,” and Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) slamming Senate Democrats for reviving the bill.

Normally, this level of opposition from the GOP would be enough to kill a bill like this one, which is of middling priority to the Democrats. But well-funded media lobbyists have continually brought it back from the dead over the past two years, with the Newsmax articles being the latest example.

Few people other than media lobbyists and news companies looking for a handout have supported the bill, which has attracted criticism from every direction and of every ideological stripe.

Conservatives oppose the bill. Media Research Center VP and longtime journalist Dan Gainor told Senators earlier this year that the JCPA is a bailout for the same large media companies that are destroying local and independent media. Republican FCC commissioner Nathan Simington and President Trump’s top tech expert Adam Candeub have also slammed the bill.

Leftists oppose the bill. The progressive nonprofit Public Knowledge, founded by far-left Biden FCC nominee Gigi Sohn, is also opposed to the bill. In a message to its activists, Public Knowledge echoed the Media Research Center’s argument that the JCPA favors the largest media companies — a rare moment of partisan agreement.

Liberals oppose the bill. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the leading liberal nonprofit on internet policy in the U.S., concurred, saying the bill favors “media near-monopolies.” 

The most respected journalists in the world oppose the bill. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald testified against the bill in 2021, warning of collusion between America’s largest media companies.

Antitrust experts oppose the bill. In a later hearing, former federal antitrust enforcer and Harvard law fellow Dr. Daniel Francis said he “cannot think of anything the country needs less, now or ever” than the national media cartel the JCPA would create.

Despite this, media lobbyists continue to resurrect the legislation — a sign of how desperate they are for a government-sanctioned handout from the tech companies.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.

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