Clay Travis of Outkick and independent journalist Glenn Greenwald warned Congress on Friday that Big Tech had too much power to censor viewpoints, and that the mainstream media had labeled truth as “disinformation,” and vice versa.
Travis and Greenwald were testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which had taken up a bill called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA).
The JCPA seeks to create an antitrust exemption for media companies to allow them to bargain collectively with Big Tech companies to charge social media giants for news content. The ostensible goal is to protect small local news organizations.
However, as Breitbart News’ Allum Bokhari warned Thursday, the JCPA could entrench the power of mainstream media giants, which could exclude smaller media companies, and allow government to define what qualifies as journalism.
The day after President Trump was a guest on @outkick last August Facebook removed 68% of our traffic on its site. Big tech’s power is near total & is artificially constraining our public discourse. My testimony at the House Judiciary Committer today: https://t.co/EPd9PnUBqy
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) March 12, 2021
Travis and Greenwald were responding to questions from Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), who noted that Big Tech and the mainstream media had allowed the false “Russia collusion” story to circulate for years.
After Stubbe asked about the challenge of creating a “fair playing field” that promotes free speech without suppressing alternative views, Travis noted the power of Big Tech to crush alternative views. He noted Big Tech’s collusion to shut down the New York Post‘s Twitter account after published a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, which turned out to be true.
Travis then continued:
Think about how crazy it is that all of the tech companies, in concert, whether you agree or disagree — and I come to this from a completely non-partisan issue — whether you agree or disagree with what the President of the United States at the time Donald Trump was doing on social media, everyone out there should be terrified of how quickly everyone shut him down. Listen to this: in January of this year, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Spotify, Snapchat, Instagram, Shopify, Reddit, Twitch, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest all either banned or restricted the democratically elected President of the United States from speaking to the country on their platforms. Right now, Donald Trump may be the focus, but Big Tech has set the precedent that if they want to shut anyone down, even the most powerful person in all of democracy can be shut down. So how do you regulate the power that Big Tech has grabbed? I think the question that you’re asking is probably the most central and important question that confronts our country today, because Trump will not be the last figure to have this happen to him. That’s my concern.
Greenwald then added that “professional journalists” were often part of the problem, either through hiding the truth from the public or reporting things that were not true:
There are representatives of my industry, my profession, here with me testifying, and often what we hear is, “Well, we’re professional journalists. We’re here to combat disinformation and ensure free and diverse viewpoints that are aired.” But so often, the reverse is true. If you look, for example, at what happened in that Hunter Biden banning by Twitter and Facebook, the argument that was — that was advanced by those companies to justify it was that the materials reported by the New York Post were, quote, “Russian disinformation.” That came from news media outlets saying that, and everyone now knows that that is untrue. Even the FBI acknowledges Russia played no role in that, and that the documents were genuine. So often, the most damaging conspiracy theories and disinformation come from the most prestigious news outlets, obviously the most destructive case being the claims that were made that led to, the country to invade Iraq. And so I think that the concern I have is that if we adopt this narrative that the reason media outlets is failing is only because of Google and Facebook, we allow this industry that needs so much self-examination to essentially be off the hook. And if you allow the biggest players — the New York Times, Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post — to be at that table and give them an antitrust exemption, you’re essentially creating two consortiums instead of eliminating the one at the root of all of the problems.
Greenwald said he favored an approach that gave small publishers more power. He later added, in response to questions from Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT): “Big media, the largest media corporations in the United States, are not opposed to the censorious behavior of Big Tech. Quite the contrary: they’re the ones who have agitated for it most aggressively.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.