The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) was saved from legislative oblivion yesterday after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) worked with the Democrats to rescue it, based on the false claim that the media and Big Tech are opposed to each other. But, as Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have pointed out, nothing could be further from the truth.
The media cartel bill, said Blackburn in her earliest critiques of it, gives “even more power to the mainstream media and Silicon Valley.” More recently, she said the bill would allow “the liberal media and Silicon Valley to silence conservatives.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, similarly, has said the bill “Opens the door to greater collusion between big media and big tech.”
These critiques expose a fundamental weakness in a key argument made by the JCPA’s supporters, including Sen. Cruz. According to them, the media and Big Tech are opposed to each other.
In fact, the two entities have been working hand-in-glove for years to suppress independent media and control the flow of information on behalf of elites. The JCPA, which would allow the media to form a joint negotiating entity to collude with Silicon Valley, simply exacerbates that long-running trend.
There was a time, fast approaching the outer limits of generational memory, when the New York Times and CNN and other such media titans had to compete on an even playing field with independent creators.
If an independent creator got a million views overnight, that blogger would likely be on the front page of relevant Google searches and at the top of your Facebook feed.
Videos from independent creators recording from their parents’ spare rooms would routinely outrank CNN and NBC in YouTube search results.
Ordinary users could start Twitter hashtags and meaningfully elevate them, giving ordinary people unprecedented influence over the national conversation.
For a moment, it seemed like the slow, centralized, dinosaur brands of the legacy media were destined for the dustbin, outmatched and outcompeted by tens of thousands of independent voices.
That moment, which spanned the first half of the 2010s, now seems like a distant memory. Why? Because Big Tech colluded with Big Media to rig the playing field.
It doesn’t matter if content from CNN and the New York Times is less organically popular than content from independent creators. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will force it onto your front page regardless of its organic momentum.
Google and Facebook do this via their prominently-displayed news tabs, where only handpicked sources are allowed to appear.
Twitter does it via the “what’s happening tab.” Formerly a list of trending hashtags driven purely by user activity, it now force-feeds you content from handpicked “authoritative” news sources, along with a few hashtags that aren’t deemed to be worthy of suppression.
And YouTube simply adjusts its search results whenever the legacy media complains.
On top of this, every major platform now employs armies of partisan “fact checkers”: a kind of digital stasi that hunts down alternative sources of news, identifying wronkthinkers so the platforms can then suppress them. The tech companies don’t even try to conceal that this ecosystem is a tool for the legacy media companies to suppress their competition: USA Today, for example, is a Facebook fact-checker.
It is against this backdrop – years of collusion between Big Tech and Big Media to suppress the latter’s competition – that Republicans like Ted Cruz have thrown their support behind the JCPA, which is a free pass for still further collusion. It is a supreme betrayal of voters who want the discredited legacy media replaced, not rescued.
Perhaps the Republican Senators who support this bill are hoping their voters are, by now, simply desensitized to betrayal. It would be a dangerous gamble to make, this close to the midterms.
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.