After repeatedly trying and failing to pass the bill when Democrats held full control of Congress, Senate Democrats are once again reviving the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), a bill that would deepen collusion between Big Tech and Big Media companies.
The JCPA was added to the markup agenda for this week’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning the Committee is like to vote on an updated version of the bill next week.
The bill aims to transfer wealth from Silicon Valley to the discredited and distrusted corporate legacy media. Beyond the financial payouts, the bill allows media companies to form a “joint negotiating entity”—a cartel, immune from antitrust law—to negotiate with Big Tech companies on the “terms and conditions” for carrying their content.
Legacy media companies already receive billions of dollars in voluntary payments from the tech companies, while their competitors in the independent media are frequently demonetized and suppressed by those same companies simply for discussing controversial topics.
Not only does the bill force even more handouts from Silicon Valley to the legacy media, it also enables even more censorship of their competition.
The “terms and conditions” that media companies can negotiate are vaguely defined. While the latest draft of the bill excludes the suppression or prioritization “of the content or viewpoint any person” from these terms, it does not exclude the suppression of categories of content, such as “hate speech,” “low quality content,” or “disinformation.” These are all common pretexts for censoring the independent media.
The Democrats’ legislative point woman on tech regulation and the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has made the JCPA a priority, and the party is hell-bent on getting the bill into law.
Democrats went as far as to force the bill into the annual military spending bill — the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — at the end of 2022. The NDAA is considered to be a “must-pass” bill that usually sweeps into law with bipartisan support. Because of this, it has become common to attach measures to it that are completely unrelated to defense spending, in order to pass bills that would not survive a standalone floor vote. The JCPA, it seems, is one of those bills.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Breitbart News that Democrats even sought to swap the JCPA for ending the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. troops, a sign of how big of a priority the media bailout is for the party. Despite these efforts, there was sufficient backlash in the Republican caucus for the bill to be pulled out of the final NDAA draft.
It’s rare for a major piece of legislation to be pulled out of the NDAA once it has already been included. Under ordinary circumstances, it would be the final nail in the coffin for any bill. But Democrats seem to be unusually intent on getting a bailout for their media buddies into law. There is perhaps no other piece of national legislation that has been killed and resurrected so many times over the last three years.
While Democrats still control the Senate, the JCPA is unlikely to see the light of day in the House, as the new Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been staunchly opposed to the bill from the beginning, calling it the “antithesis of conservatism” when it was first introduced.
Rep. McCarthy has maintained his opposition since taking up the Speaker’s gavel, recently condemning Senate Democrats for trying to sneak it into the NDAA during the last Congress.
The bill’s other Republican foes include included Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN), Katie Britt (R-AL), and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Ben Cline (R-VA).
Even so, Democrats could still try to pass the bill at the end of the year during negotiations for a potential omnibus spending bill, or another “must-pass” defense bill. At that stage, Democrats might try once again to hold Republican legislative priorities hostage if they don’t get their media bailout.
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.