Representatives of the Big Media conglomerates told Congress they need a special antitrust exemption to defend their industry today, at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
Establishment Media’s defenders cited a talking point they have used relentlessly over the past four years as they have pushed for more advantages, including censorship of their competitors, from Big Tech: that the alternative is to allow “misinformation” to thrive.
The hearing was called to discuss the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, a deceptively-titled piece of legislation that would allow Big Media to form a cartel that would normally be illegal under antitrust law. The purpose of this cartel would be to secure even more advantages from Big Tech companies.
President and CEO of the News Media Alliance David Chavern testified at the hearing. 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).
Calling the news media an “essential part of our democracy,” Chavern went on to warn that Big Media is “under threat” and needs to be bailed out by Congress’s proposed antitrust exemption.
“Congress’s help is needed to combat that threat,” said Chavern.
Praising the media’s work covering “catastrophic weather events” (which the media typically blames on “climate change”), and “public health crises,” Chavern also said that local journalism has “acted as a clear antidote to the scores of misinformation impacting communities across the country.”
Despite arguing that the media needed help from the government, Chavern admitted that “our readership is at its highest levels ever.”
Chavern complained that the algorithms of Big Tech determine “when and if news is seen in search results” and “how news is presented to users,” despite the fact that Big Tech companies including Facebook now openly boast about boosting so-called authoritative sources in their algorithms, at the expense of independent media.
As Google has boasted of many times — most recently yesterday — Big Tech also pours billions of dollars into Big Media in order to prop up the widely distrusted establishment news industry.
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Emily Barr, CEO of Graham Media Group, and a director of the leadership foundation of the National Association of Broadcasters, also said members of Congress should support the bill because of the danger of “misinformation.”
Arguing that the bill should be passed “swiftly,” Barr said that local TV and radio stations provide a “civic bond” for communities, and prevents the spread of “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.”
“Misinformation,” along with “fake news” is a term that became popular in the media after the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016. It has been widely used as a smear to target conservative and alternative news sources, particularly online.
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.