Proponents of Media Cartel Bill Admitted It Would Help Combat ‘Misinformation’

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks onstage during Vox Media's 2022 Code Conference - Day 1 on September 06, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media)
Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

Proponents of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) admitted during a House Judiciary Committee last year that it would essentially help combat “misinformation,” as Democrats and liberal media outlets champion the bill, which would promote censorship of conservative viewpoints under the guise of protecting local journalism. This directly contradicts the narrative offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who caved on the media cartel bill and even commended the bill’s sponsors.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the media cartel bill last year. The measure, recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would empower establishment media organizations, allowing them to form cartels to collude with Big Tech. Supporters of the bill have attempted to present it as a means to preserve local journalism. On Thursday, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), dismissed criticisms, contending that the measure is “not about content” but “simply about negotiating prices.”

Conservative leaders, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), have warned that this will lead to greater censorship. While it does not allow these cartels to exclude “views expressed by its content,” these cartels “ARE allowed to exclude based on the usual, totally subjective, factors they always do, such as: ‘trustworthiness,’ ‘fake news, ‘extremism,’ ‘misinformation,’ ‘hate speech,’ ‘conspiracy,’ ‘correction policy,’ ‘expertise,’ ‘authoritativeness,’ etc.,” as Breitbart News reported.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) questions Steven Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

What is more, proponents of the bill have admitted this fact as well, despite Cruz’s newfound insistence otherwise.

During the March 2021 House Judiciary Committee hearing on the measure, David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance, argued that “local journalism has also acted as a clear antidote to the scourge of misinformation impacting communities across the country,” while begging Congress to “combat that threat” of losing it.

“The News Media Alliance’s board includes executives from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newscorp, Hearst (owners of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire), and Gannett Co (owners of USA Today),” Breitbart News reported in March 2021.

That hearing also featured Emily Barr, CEO of Graham Media Group, who contended that “broadcasters represent one of the last bastions of truly local unbiased journalism,” pointing to the supposed threat of what they consider to be misinformation.

“This past year has also tested our democracy and the very pillars upon which it stands, including a free and diverse press. Due in large part to the misinformation circulating unchecked in the digital ecosystem, more and more Americans have lost faith in the information reaching their eyes and ears,” she said, deeming local broadcasters “a touchstone for the truth.”

“Decisions about which content will be prioritized by algorithms often favor sensationalism and misinformation over hard journalism,” she lamented.

In the same hearing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) posed the question, “Who gets to decide who defines what’s high quality journalism?”

Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a House Judiciary Committee mark up hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 02, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Outkick’s Clay Travis responded, “Well, I think that’s one of the big challenges — is determining what is and what is not high quality journalism. Some of the most high quality journalism that we have seen over the years that has been praised has ended up not being true.”

Additionally, Democrat Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the masked-up chair of the committee, stated that the “crisis in American journalism has become a real crisis in our democracy and civic life.”  

Speaking of Big Tech platforms, Cicilline also alluded to his deep desire to promote what he deems “trustworthy” sources.

“This gatekeeper power gives Facebook and Google the ability to distort the flow of information online,” he said. 

“This means that Google and Facebook can divert their billions of users away from trustworthy sources of news with a single change to their algorithms or through other subtle but meaningful ways such as manipulating ad auctions,” he added, admitting that Congress must “do something in the short term to save trustworthy journalism.”

This theme, of combatting what establishment media outlets deem “misinformation,” has remained relevant throughout the bill’s journey in both chambers. During a September 8, 2022, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, for example, Democrat Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), essentially exposed his colleagues’ agenda.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla talks about voting rights and announces new voter registration numbers Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Alex Padilla talks about voting rights Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP)

“How will this bill help or hurt our efforts to combat hate speech and disinformation online that have poisoned our discourse in recent years, as Senator Kennedy has lamented?” he asked, adding, “And I agree.” He brought up that point again during the committee’s Thursday meeting, raising concerns that the bill actually does not allow enough censorship.

“These provisions also work in concert to allow bad faith actors to force platforms to amplify the spread of hate speech and disinformation online,” Padilla stated, expressing concern over “the bill’s impact on the open internet and the public’s ability to access and share information.”

During the September 8 meeting, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) read a letter from the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union Tribune, which argued that the failure of Congress to take action will “erode” the ability to combat disinformation.


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