Free Speech

Lawmakers to Cable Providers: Why Are You Letting News Channels Say These Things?

This misguided effort to combat "misinformation" is a brazen assault on free speech.

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Today two Democratic members of Congress sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies implying that they should either stop carrying Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax or pressure them to change their coverage. According to the lawmakers, these conservative channels are responsible for promoting misinformation and political violence.

"To our knowledge, the cable, satellite, and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets," wrote Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California.

Released in advance of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Wednesday hearing on "Disinformation and Extremism in the Media," the letter makes clear that some lawmakers do not want television providers to let their customers watch conservative news channels. (Disclaimer: I am interviewed regularly on Fox News and Newsmax.) Eshoo and McNerney ask the companies to explain the "moral and ethical principles" that undergird their decisionmaking with respect to which channels are carried, how many viewers tuned in to these channels during the four weeks before the Capitol riots on January 6, 2020, and what steps were taken to "monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation."

"The committee members also sent the letter to Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu, digital companies that distribute cable programming," reports The New York Times.

False claims do appear with some frequency on conservative news channels, streaming services, and social media. But they also appear in The New York Times, on CNN, and in other mainstream information outlets. The traditional remedy to misinformation is to file a defamation lawsuit. The federal government does not need to involve itself.

On the contrary, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from infringing on free speech—and that includes the freedom of companies to decide what kind of speech appears on their platforms. Politicians are not in charge of setting the parameters for acceptable speech on the internet and television. That responsibility devolves to individual companies and individual viewers.

Make no mistake: The letter to television providers was an act of intimidation. This behavior is equally unacceptable when Republicans do it: Calls to regulate tech companies because Facebook, Twitter, and Google make moderation decisions that irritate conservatives are also threats to free speech. Members of both political parties are intent on wielding their power to curb the speech of their adversaries, which is precisely why the government does not—and should not—have the power to compel or censor speech.

"As the most watched cable news channel throughout 2020, Fox News Media provided millions of Americans with in-depth reporting, breaking news coverage and clear opinion," said a spokesperson for Fox News in a statement.* "For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and demand cable distributors engage in viewpoint discrimination sets a terrible precedent."

Comcast, not Congress, gets to decide whether to carry Newsmax. Mark Zuckerberg, not Congress, gets to decide whether Facebook will deplatform a COVID-19 denialist. Jack Dorsey, not Congress, gets to decide whether Twitter will ban Alex Jones. That's the plain meaning of the First Amendment.

As the words "misinformation" and "disinformation" come to refer not to just clear falsehoods but to information that is contentious, disputed, or highly partisan but nevertheless true, it is important to reject the idea that there is a "fake news" exception to the First Amendment. If a statement is libelous, then an outlet can be sued for printing it. If it contains a call to violence, platforms may have some legal responsibility to take action against it. But the First Amendment's protections are extremely robust, and the government may not criminalize the dissemination of information that is merely wrong or uninformed. Such a move would imperil not just right-wing news channels, but all speech that criticizes the government.

*Update: A statement from Fox News was added to this article.

NEXT: Despite Starkly Different COVID-19 Policies, the U.S. and the U.K. Saw Similar Drops in Cases Around the Same Time

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  1. it is important to reject the idea that there is a “fake news” exception to the First Amendment.

    “Oh, very well. But certainly not a *hate* news exception!”

    1. Or problematic words of any sort.

    2. I am impressed that the media is OK with what is, undeniably, a full frontal assault on free press here.

      At least their tweets aren’t mean, I suppose.

      Democrats stifle the press and the media thanks them for it. They are beneath Stepford Wives.

  2. We need something like a ministry of truth or some such thing. It can be a separate nonpartisan cabinet post so our masters can make sure we are properly informed. We are simply not smart enough to figure things out on our own.

    1. When you consider the number of people who get sucked in by the likes of QAnon, etc., and going so far as to riot in the U.S. Capitol because of it, I think you’re right – “we” simply aren’t smart enough. It has been established that there are limits to free speech – the old adage about how you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater and defend your actions as free speech. The first amendment does protect us from having a secret police knocking on our doors because we dared disparage the president on Facebook, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t protect us from the consequences of our own actions when there are consequences to be dealt with.

      1. When you consider the number of people who get sucked in by the likes of QAnon, etc., and going so far as to riot in the U.S. Capitol because of it

        And by that you mean the rioting that had it’s genesis in the “Hands up, don’t shoot” lie? Or the numerous other similar incidents since then? Or perhaps the “That wasn’t Hunter Biden’s laptop” narrative? Or…

      2. Any government empowered to restrict access to QAnon is just as likely to come knocking on your door.

        Instead of calling you an ass hole, I will ask you: even in your simple if tired theater analogy, exactly when do you have license to shout fire? When you see some sparks coming from an electrical box? When you see some teens playing with a lighter? When your friend tells you he smells smoke? When you see the entire screen in flames (that nobody else has noticed)?

        1. Beyond that, there is more than a middling amount of evidence that Q is a psy-op campaign being run by Brennan’s associates.

          There is a reason that the media suddenly began covering Q, and it ain’t because they all randomly decided that it was newsworthy the same day.

          1. The first time I heard about Q was from a Prog last summer in another forum. Prior to that I had not idea such a thing even existed.

      3. Fuck off slaver.

      4. More people believe qanon is widespread and committing sedition than believe in qanon.

        1. That’s got to be my new sock. Only I could be that dumb.

          1. You need to keep better control of your socks, or you’ll wind up with some kind of fungal rot.

      5. “When you consider the number of people who get sucked in by the likes of QAnon, etc”

        I’m pretty sure that the number of people who believe in Qanon is one-ten-thousandth of the number of times it’s fretted about in the Atlantic and New York Times.
        Qanon is an establishment bogeyman which is now mostly invented to seriously concern wine moms who enjoy being politically concerned.

        1. I don’t know about the figures, but QAnon is no Establishment invention. They come into my workplace from time to time with their Q truck decals, bathroom graffitti, and WWGOWGA T-shirts.

          I wish to Hell they would follow their “bread crumbs” to The Vatican and it’s local franchises, The Southern Baptist Convention and it’s franchises, The LDS Headquarters and it’s franchises, Boy Scout troops, bunches of Gummint Skoolz, and anywhere else children really are being abused instead of pizza parlors and Madonna’s milk baths. And let them go away both One and All!

      6. “It has been established that there are limits to free speech”

        Exactly! Thank you.
        I’ve been saying since forever that people who disagree with me a racist threats to democracy and must be silenced by any means.
        All these fascists here insisting on the free, unfettered exchanged of ideas and challenging the status quo, and whining about “muh freedums”. Fuck them.
        Free speech doesn’t mean you get to endanger lives by challenging the party’s narrative.

      7. “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater and defend your actions as free speech”

        Doesn’t want people to yell fire in a crowded theater.

        “When you consider the number of people who get sucked in by the likes of QAnon”

        Yells fire in a crowded theater.

        1. Well played.

        2. reasonable Adults should be able to ascertain whether there is a fire in the theatre or not…

          Just saying…that leaves Liberals out.. they fall for their Parties Dog Whistles and Fire Bells daily.

      8. “When you consider the number of people who get sucked in by the likes of QAnon, etc., and going so far as to riot in the U.S. Capitol because of it, I think you’re right – “we” simply aren’t smart enough.”

        TDS-addled lefty shits like this asshole certainly aren’t smart enough; look at the number of lies the asshole packed into one sentence.

      9. Curious – would you include the news outlets that only carried news about Hunter Biden’s laptop and an investigation as being Russian disinformation? Or Trump Russian collusion? Or, $2 billion damages to ‘taco stands’ as being unworthy of real notice? Or that an officer in the Capitol was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher?

      10. The correct quote is “You cannot FALSELY yell ‘FIRE’! in a crowded theater.” If you’re going to quote someone, quote them correctly!!!!
        You also cannot use a bad act as a pretext to quash and silence all opposing views either.

        1. Thank you; I was hoping someone had pointed that out! It should also be noted that there is no prior restraint on yelling “fire” in a theater. You are not gagged nor your mouth duct-tape when you enter. You CAN be punished for any undue harm you might have caused, but only after that has been proven.

      11. I’ve got news for you, @nolefan, the people, who went to riot at the Capitol building, had nothing to do with QAnon.
        They were the antifa goons, who usually stage “counter” protests at Trump rallies – notice how this well-publicized rally didn’t have any “counter” protests – but decided to do the false-flag “we’re just MAGA supporters” thing to throw shade on the patriots, some of whom, unawares, got sucked into following them.

  3. Acronym of the day: MOFA

    1. Nope. Still EASTAU. Today and every day. Haha.

  4. The very fact these people in positions of power are openly trying by written statements (and called in person previously) to eliminate entire PRESS outfits – should be well worthy of expulsion hearings.

    Freedom of the Press; You nasty Nazi Regime scum…. State legislatures need to address election authentication before it’s too late and they cheat themselves into more positions.

    1. And somehow these people argued that Trump was the fascist, while the Democrats are literally trying to take down newspapers. What is our country coming to?

  5. So far, 100,000 people were murdered by the China virus under SleepyJoe’s watch.

    1. Every virus-induced fatality since Biden’s inauguration should be blamed on Drumpf and / or America’s worst governor Ron DeSantis. Biden is currently shutting down the virus exactly as he promised.

      #LibertariansForBiden

      1. You misspelled Andrew Cuomo

      2. You’re irredeemably full of bovine excrement.

    2. Don’t point fingers. It’s part of the viruses’ cultural differences.

    3. All for the Greater Good says the Communist mentality
      End Justifies the Means and all that rot

  6. So, are we done with “but my private corporations!!!!”?

    1. I’m sure these were only suggestions.

    2. You have every right to petition or boycott to make a private corporation to behave a certain way. Politicians, on the other hand, have no right to intimidate or coerce a private corporation in this manner. As government actors, they are constrained by the First Amendment.

      1. Lol. Wait you are serious.

    3. I hope not. In general we should want to protect the rights of private organizations to operate as they will. I’m coming around to the idea that there are certain very large corporations that become too powerful and almost quasi-governmental and that that is a problem.
      “Muh private corporations” should still be the default position of anyone who cares about economic liberty.
      I’m almost ready to support the death penalty for users of social media, though.

      1. You know you can support a private entity and not support their overt collusion that is happening in SV right?

        1. The mainstream media has to go. They’re a blunt instrument wielded by the progs.

          Things have escalated. We are now fighting for our freedom, and our lives.

      2. Let me know when it’s ok to not bake the cake. Then we’ll know “muh private corporations” means something real.

    4. You didn’t build that!

  7. Notions that are “popular” eventually but inevitably seem to make it to Congress. So let’s make cancel culture a national priority.

    Climate change denial: 10 years incarceration, possibly commuted based on immersion in re-education and posting a convincing repudiation; further consideration given in exchange for names of anyone who held similar beliefs

    Misnomer: referring to a person or persons contrary to their preferred identification: 15 years, no possibility of parole.

    Questioning science: an oracle will be chosen by a commission appointed by the government; any dispute will result in incarceration for an indeterminate period of time.

    Denial of History: any question of current revision of past events will result in transportation to a facility for re-education; internment will be unlimited, and based on successful and convincing understanding of the correct perception of relevant events in our past.

    For all of the above, laws will apply retroactively and there will be no statue of limitations. Any discover of incorrect or harmful beliefs, by or reported to the Ministry of Grievance Archeology, will be sufficient to prosecute, convict, and sentence.

    1. >This behavior is equally unacceptable when Republicans do it:

      Such as? Oh,you mean the social media companies? Yes, because arguing for people having freedom to speak online is exactly the same as silencing media companies. You made the most stupid point just to engage in whataboutism, while missing the fact that the Republican position in both is morally correct and in favor of free speech.

      1. I’m going to venture a guess that you did not mean to reply to me?

        1. I’d think not.
          Your solution is impeccable, though perhaps not final.

          1. Acts [which, given the repudiation of The Enlightenment as white supremacy, are NOT limited to actions] of racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, whatever ism] are capital crimes and subject to capital punishment. That means we will kill you.

        2. No, sorry, was meant as a reply to the post.

    2. “Climate change denial: 10 years incarceration, possibly commuted based on immersion in re-education and posting a convincing repudiation; further consideration given in exchange for names of anyone who held similar beliefs

      Notice that as quickly as the Ministry of Truth dealt with “Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia”, the ecological threat of global cooling pivoted 180 degrees to become global warming. And when global warming didn’t poll well, “climate change”, which covers anything their hearts desire to blame on it popped into existence. At the same time, anyone who says something stupid like “climate has always changed” is pilloried as much as someone who says “all lives matter”.

    3. “Ministry of Grievance”?

      The 2020’s will be my decade. Everything is so terrible and unfair.

  8. Have we reached the “violation of first amendment” stage yet are are we waiting for the Dems to send the military in to arrest the Fox News crew?

    Good thing it’s only some nutty college students, huh?

    The pathetic part is that I bet these numbskulls couldn’t stop talking about what a fascist Trump was.

    Folks we need to toss every one of these fuckers out while we still can. All 535, plus Biden and Harris. Start from scratch.

    1. “Good thing it’s only some nutty college students, huh?” has become
      “Oh, it’s just a few nutty Congresspersons.”

      So I wonder how long till it be more than a “few” sufficient to make such outlandish ideas into law? The “Progressive Caucus” from which much [all] of this emanates, currently holds 94 of 435 seats, or 21.6% of the house. I do not consider that insignificant.

      You would think this sort of thing never happened in the world before.

    2. How about we toss them and don’t replace them? Best solution is to abolish the federal government. Of course that isn’t going to happen, but neither is a full clean sweep of congress.

    3. “Folks we need to toss every one of these fuckers out while we still can. All 535, plus Biden and Harris. Start from scratch.”

      Yep.
      I bet voting will totes work too

      1. Depends on who gets to do the counting.

    4. Only problem there is that time and time again, surveys show that the “average” American takes the stance that all of Congress is doing a horrible job and should be thrown out on their ears … except for “my” guy, he’s doing and bang-up job and needs to keep it up. Until the voters realize that “my” guy is doing just as horrible a job as the rest of them, we’ll continue to be stuck with the whole lot of ’em.

      1. Not true. I live in CA and am very familiar that ‘my guys’ are lefty shits who should have the constitution read to them like Alex got Beethoven.

      2. The very definition of VOTER INSANITY is REPEATEDLY VOTING FOR THE SAME PEOPLE OR MINDSET OVER AND OVER AGAIN, WHILE ACTUALLY EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS!! ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES!!!

        1. I am proud to say not one CA elected politico has ever gotten a vote from me.

  9. Remember the good old days, when someone said the Founders couldn’t have predicted the AR15, and we said the same holds for the Internet? The left used to get mad at that, now they accept taking their position to its logical conclusion.

    1A, 2A: technological advancements have made individuals too powerful and thus too dangerous. Society could survive some individual freedom earlier, but not now. Bend over and grab your ankles.

  10. “This behavior is equally unacceptable when Republicans do it”

    To be sure.

    In the great debates over censorship in U. S. history, the “defeat of censorship” is is many cases associated, not with an embrace of 1st Amendment values, but with increasing power and success for the people who were being censored.

    Alien and Sedition Acts? That was Federalists trying to censor Republicans (as Democrats were called back then). Despite (because of?) the attempted censorship, Republicans took over and the Federalists faded out. No wonder the Federalist side is denounced and the Republican (Democratic) side is lauded.

    Antislavery speech? Censorship decreased in the North as Northerners began to have doubts about the power of the slave states. Censorship let up in the South as it was conquered and the slaves were emancipated.

    Anticommunist censorship? While unadulterated Communism didn’t exactly become unofficial U. S. policy, the people making censorship decisions began to evolve toward seeing communists as misguided zealots who cared too much about the poor and minorities – and weren’t anticommunists (against the poor and minorities) the *real* enemy?

    This hypothesis doesn’t explain everything – there were some genuine civil libertarians of the “freedom for the thought we hate” variety – but it plays more of a role than the romantic myths of liberalism would allow.

  11. “…both of California.”

  12. Prominent examples of Misinformation:

    Trayvon Martin coverage, George Zimmerman 911 call, Hands Up Dont Shoot, Russia Collusion, Immigrant Cages, Covington Catholic, COVID coverage a year ago, Cuomo coverage, Hunter Biden, … I feel better that the perpetrators of these lies are being dealt with harshly

    1. Well, once a group gets control of the language, they can pretty much decide what “truth” is and who is [and is not] doing a “good” job of conveying that.

    2. Jayson Blair and Brian Williams are collaborating on a multi media, truthful account regarding all of these.

  13. They think 1984 is a utopian novel.

    1. They think 1984 is a policy handbook.

  14. Politicians aren’t the people who should be deciding what’s a lie and what isn’t.

    1. Since politicians are the sons of lying…Their Daddy, SATAN is the father of lies and his children in D.C. have learned well from their father!!!

  15. “Today two Democratic members of Congress sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies implying that they should either stop carrying Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax or pressure them to change their coverage.”

    In addition to everything else that’s stupid about this, these Democrats don’t seem to have read the memo about the ongoing streaming revolution.

    “The cord-cutting trend is still in the early innings. According to market research company eMarketer, 6.6 million households will cut the cord in 2020, bringing the total number of cord-cutting households in the United States to 31.2 million.

    In all, the United States will only have 77.6 million households that still subscribe to cable, satellite, or telecom-based TV, marking a record-breaking 7.5 percent drop compared to last year.

    Moreover, the number of U.S. households with pay-TV subscriptions is expected to sink below 50 percent for the first time ever by the end of 2024, a year in which the number of cord-cutters could surpass 46 million.”

    https://nationalinterest.org/blog/techland/comcast-getting-smashed-cord-cutting-and-raising-prices-174796

    The Regional Sports Networks are expected to go direct to consumer sometime between now and when the baseball season starts, and live news is one of the few reasons people still subscribe to cable.

    What makes these stupid Democrats think that cable and satellite operators are in any position to cut off their most watched cable news channel–and shed millions more cable subscribers almost overnight?

    I’ll tell you what makes them think that: stupidity. Not only are progressives among America’s most horrible people, they’re also among the dumbest. When I think of how ignorant I’d have to be to genuinely believe the stupid things progressives say, it’s amazing. It’s like they’re all trying to be more stupid than each other! Does no one tell them when their zipper is down? Maybe that’s part of the problem.

    1. The thing is they will cut off the profits to virtue signal.
      Just look at Disney.
      They dumped Gina Carrera for making a Nazi reference, while her leftist co star was allowed to make a Nazi reference.
      Instead of ignoring it, Disney “cancelled” her.
      And they were amazed when a million subscribers cancelled Disney subscriptions.

      1. Gina’s problem was that she implied Progs were the Nazis.

  16. So we’re just going to ignore the last 4 years of CNN and MSNBC?

    1. They didn’t inspire 70% of Republicans to support the violent overthrow of the U.S. government!

      https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/09/republicans-free-fair-elections-435488

      Why aren’t you alarmed, IceTrey; what, are you–an insurrectionist?!

      1. There’s sort of a difference between thinking the election wasn’t free and fair, and supporting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

        Maybe Reason should censor your false statements.

    2. 4 years? The article appears to be oblivious to the fact that CNN’s popularity is the rather direct result of cable TV’s regulation and that only now are we seeing a reversal of the poor regulatory decisions made, by Congress, to ensure competition in the Cable market with the ’84 CPTCA and ’96 Telecommunications Act.

      The whole article is an exercise in historical regulatory ignorance and the parallels drawn between Comcast and Democrats and Facebook/Twitter and anti-S230 Republicans make it iterative ignorance. It’s as bad as citing Limbaugh’s opposition to the Fairness Act as an argument in favor of S230 despite the Fairness Act’s direct parallels (and abuse thereof) to S230.

  17. So when are the impeachment hearings for Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney scheduled?

    1. Prison sentences for congress members who knowingly try to violate the constitution.

      Who in congress has the balls to propose it, even though it has no chance of being passed?

    2. How can you have an impeachment that singles out just two of the hundreds of members of Congress who advocate for policies which would undermine or violate parts of the Constitution that they’ve all sworn to uphold? Even if they’re scapegoated, almost nobody in either the House or the Senate is going to want to create a precedent of holding members accountable in that way for something that the vast majority are guilty of in one way or another (as a result of behaviors that they have no intention of changing).

  18. They inspired 100% of Democrats to support stealing the election! What’s wrong with being an insurrectionist? This country was founded by insurrectionists.

    1. You jest, but we have already moved on from the notion that checking signatures is racist, anti-democratic, and even fascist to the point where Gavin Newsom out in California is pushing signature checks on his recall petitions with an army of lawyers. So far, they are rejecting signatures at 100 times the rate of the past election in California where signatures were challenged.

      The good news, I don’t think anyone in the press is calling him a Nazi, fascist, anti-American, seditionist, treasonous, or a terrorist.

    2. The Tour de Capital lately was ‘firing a warning shot’ across the bow of the SS Pelosi. It was clearly demonstrated to her she can be dethroned at a moments notice and THE CAPITAL SECURITY WILL LEND A HAND IN DOING SO!

      F-ing HILARIOUS!!

      The Capitol Cops, SS, etc arent stupid…

  19. Sounds like its time for the monthly peaceful protest at the Capitol. Some congress critters need to wet their pants again.

    1. This isn’t very different from what the GOPmhas been doing for decades. The only distinguishing element is that the GOP preaentnitaelf like an ignorant grandmother clutching her pearls while the DNC shrouds itself in psuedo-intellectualism.

      It’s like watching machiavelli compete against Howdy Doody.

      1. Quite a liar there, you are!

        Just playing the Childish game of “no, you are” is not an intelligent game.

  20. George Orwell and Ray Bradbury were predicting the Democrat party.

    1. Give these politicians a Voight-Kampf test.

  21. I know everyone here knows this, but since the subhead is “This misguided effort to combat “misinformation” is a brazen assault on free speech.”, I am going to go ahead and say it explicitly.

    There is no effort to combat misinformation. That is the tiny fig leaf they are using as cover. Not only is the fig leaf tiny, it is transparent. Not a single one of those politicians believes they are doing anything to battle misinformation.

    If you are among the true believers who actually believes that there is a horrible plague of misinformation coming from right-wing memes spread on the internet, you have been played. And you are probably not all that bright. Either that or you are highly motivated to believe just about anything.

    But that’s about it. This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to enact censorship upon their political enemies. I know that back in the 1960s left wing radicals advocated for free speech and talked about “the man” trying to silence them, but Today things are much different. In the last 40 plus years there has been a persistent effort by the left to use the power of government to silence their adversaries. The largest push began in the early ’90s with a serious effort to enact the fairness doctrine to silence AM talk radio. That effort has not subsided one iota in my lifetime. It has only grown.

    All of the talk of hate speech was nothing more than an effort to censor ideas they did not like. Now we see a bunch of disparate threads coming together at the same time in the same place. And they are so confident that the media has their back that they are willing to stand up there and declare that they are pressuring media companies, cable companies, banks, internet service providers, hosting companies, and anyone tangentially related to the ability to have political speech in order to have them silence their political enemies.

    So, supposedly free press, The ball is in your court. They are coming straight for your medium. your stock and trade. The only thing that allows you to do your chosen trade, the ability to speak freely and discuss ideas. So important that they made it the first amendment.

    Now is the time to decide, George Stephanopoulos. Savannah Guthrie, time to stand up. You come from a family tradition of speaking truth to power. Time to decide, are you a party apparatic, or will you stand up for freedom. This is the end times. You are not going to get another bite at this apple. If they win this one, it is all over.

    Almost every voice on the far left is unanimous. Freedom of speech means the freedom to repeat things we tell you to say. That is all that it means. If you work in any sort of media, this is the time. There will not be another time. They will be coming for you. And it won’t be long.

    And don’t expect the courts to save you. The courts have been corrupted. If you’ve had your head in the sand, the last year should have removed any illusions you held. Our courts in Washington DC are holding people charged with misdemeanor trespassing without bail, in clear violation of the eighth amendment. on charges that have very little chance of being sustained in many cases. You cannot count on the federal appeals courts. They have also shown that they are highly partisan and they will not hesitate to rule in accordance with that allegiance.

    There is nowhere else to back up. You have backed yourselves all the way into the corner. If you don’t come out swinging now, they are going to declare it a knockout and you won’t get back in the ring.

    1. The left used to fight The Man, now they are The Man.

      1. The Person. Anyone typing “The Man” faces fines and/or imprisonment.

        1. Only biological males are fundamentally capable of being oppressors. At least that’s what all the leftist women who keep getting people separated from their livelihoods based on allegations alone keep telling me.

          In any other scenario, assuming the gender of such a figurative entity would be a hate crime.

          1. Only biological males, unless they identify as females…but if they’re white, even that doesn’t matter.

      2. The left was never against authority. They just wanted be the authority.

        They have to go. We’re past talk and debate. It’s time to get rid of them while we can.

      3. 1,000,000,000,000,00 right.

        Recall “Down with the Man / System?”

        They dont.

      4. The Left has always, only, ever fought The Other.

        The propaganda used is irrelevant.

    2. According to the left their opinions are not opinions at all, they’re facts. And therefore differing opinions are also not opinions, they’re disinformation.

      Got it?

      1. This is why there can no longer be a progressive left

      2. Of course its their facts, just ask them! Its the “settled science” thing from AGW…

        Masks do absolutely no good, according to published SCIENTIFIC papers by CDC AND NIH and the DENTISTRY world.

        But some Idiot Talking Head makes a POLITICAL statement pretending to be a CDC authority that ‘masks stop COVID” and tools and fools believe them.

        BTW, theres no such thing as “stopping COVID transmission”, COVID is a lung disease, not transmissible

        But Stupid Liberals believe it bc the “Gummit Said It”

    3. “Now is the time to decide, George Stephanopoulos. Savannah Guthrie, time to stand up.”

      Hate to break it to you, but they, and about 99% of MSM, have already decided. Once you decide that you are willing to lie through your teeth and be complete hypocrites on national TV for The Party while pretending to be journalists, there’s no going back.

      1. Yeah, those guys try way too hard to be part of the in crowd. They figure they’re safe that way.

  22. We are going to end up shooting our way out of this.

    Thanks Reason!

    1. “misguided”

      Fuck you Robby, you pathetic simp.

    2. I suspect the left will force us to eliminate many of them before they finally stop trying to take our freedom and our lives.

      1. Wheres hte down side?

        1. A repeat of the oppression olympics in 100 years?

    3. Naw. Theres no opponent. The “opponent” are unarmed weak kneed cowards that cant accomplish anything. All they do is use words.

      Theyre just Playing the Victim as usual.

      1. They use more than words. They use the full force and power of the government.

    4. Oh? Are ‘we’?

      “A potential revolutionary situation exists in any country where the government consistently fails in its obligation to ensure at least a minimally decent standard of life for the great majority of its citizens.”
      ― Mao Tse-tung,

      And yet he failed to do that very thing. The people died from lack of provision. Same thing in our civil war. There was nothing left to fight for.

      You wish a shooting war Thomas? Civil war rarely turns out well.

  23. 4 months after the election, one month after the inauguration, Reason finally wakes up to the “lawmakers”. That would be DEMOCRATIC lawmakers Reason. I don’t see Republicans trying to set down CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS or NBC.
    Sugar coating what is going on is as much a problem as ignoring it. Trying to say it is equal is bogus. Republicans are FIGHTING FOR FREE SPEECH.

    1. We live in a world where only Trump’s authoritarianism is bad. The Dems are going to give out free stuff and coat their rhetoric in nice words so their authoritarianism is good.

      1. …but Democrat authoritariansim is good…

        Go figure. 1984.

    2. I dunno. Is it really that different from trying to control what Suckerbum allows on his website?

  24. Isn’t this like the Theocracy of Islamic Iran complaining to Denmark about Mohammed cartoons in privately-owned newspapers?

    1. Yes, same basic idea. The difference here is that these complainers can pass legislation to shut down the relevant news channels / cable providers and to fine or imprison their owners.

  25. Cue the creation of the Department of Truth and Media Empowerment.

  26. Misguided = If only Stalin knew

  27. Again, let’s be clear: Section 230 was passed because Cox and Wyden felt that Cubby v. Compuserve was wrongy decided. They felt that voices given a platform on Compuserve’s networks should’ve been silenced and Compuserve failed/refused to moderate. Now, cable providers are failing/refusing to moderate and, once again, lawmakers are insisting that this is inappropriate.

    And Robby points out that the Republicans, standing up for voices that are being moderated and deplatformed, are just as bad as the guys who want Social Media companies to moderate harder and are now going after cable providers to do the same. If you were confused or on the fence about S230 before, there should no longer be any doubt as to Congress’s intentions. Moreover, while advocacy of encryption is admirable, under the umbrella of this sort of speech regulation, it’s between a fig leaf and a stalking horse or red herring. If the message can be stifled at both ends, it doesn’t much matter whether the message was encrypted e2e or not.

    Reason “Free Minds and Free Markets” Magazine, is as much an enemy of free speech as any Pravda outlet under the Soviets. They’ll advocate for your ability to encrypt into gigabits of indecipherable complexity as long as the messages going in and coming out are of the (currently) approved variety.

  28. Mao at his finest.
    1. I see theyve been reading MY comments on line. Ive been pushing this idea to put a stop to the Left Wing Media from spewing lies 24 x 7.

    2. The First Amendment is an INDIVIDUAL RIGHT, it does not belong to CORPORATIONS. Especially Americans Broadcasting Communism, Nationalists Broadcasting Communism, Communist Broadcasting System, PMSLSD and Nationalist Progressive Radio.

    3. But DEMOCRATS LYING for FOUR YEARS about RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, and spreading hate speech against President Trump using the Broadcast and Cable “news” outlets IS OK?

    Hypocrisy 301.

    Had enough of the MSMs lies?

    Go to the FCCs Consumer COmplaint page and file a complaint against your Cable or Broadcast station airing the LIES from ABC, NBC, CBS, PMSLSD and Nationalist Progressive Radio.

    Nothing you can do about the CONTENT PRODUCERS. ABC, NBC, CBYes, PMSLSD and Progressive Broadcasting System ARE NOT BROADCASTERS.

    They are CONTENT PRODUCERS. FCC has no hold on them.

    FCC DO have control over Cable providers and over the air Broadcast stations airing the MSMs Lies.

    The operative phrase is “not in the Public interest…”

    Signed, Licensed to run broadcast stations in the US…

  29. “Comcast, not Congress, gets to decide whether to carry Newsmax. Mark Zuckerberg, not Congress, gets to decide whether Facebook will deplatform a COVID-19 denialist. Jack Dorsey, not Congress, gets to decide whether Twitter will ban Alex Jones. That’s the plain meaning of the First Amendment.

    Not even a single example from the other direction? To be sure, I didn’t expect any better from Robby.

    1. This is not a bipartisan issue.

      1. True, and while that was somewhat the point, Robby also used the other sides words like “denialist”. It’s clear that only one side is doing this, and the Robby, despite this sort of article, is on their side.

    2. Same observation.

      Furthermore, Comcast is in a business arrangement with Newsmax. They are choosing to do business with them.

      Facebook and Twitter are unpaid for personal use, and considered a place for social conversation.

      While all businesses are free to decide their rules, Congress intimidating a business into ending contracts with other businesses is not the same category of infringement as a business selectively moderating voices on their “open” social platform.

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  32. Complete bullshit. None of those networks has ever done what the dims claim. Fantasy.

  33. In the span of less than 6 weeks, Rep Eshoo has both put out a call for the new administration to re-establish the “Net Neutrality” rules which would prohibit cable-based ISPs from filtering or prioritizing particular types/sources of information from being made equally available to their internet customers, and has demanded an explanation from those same cable companies as to why they aren’t actively censoring what is and isn’t allowed to be accessed by their television customers?

    Makes one wonder which side of the issue of “corporate censorship” she actually believes in.

  34. One could easily argue that there is as much disinformation on the left as there is on the right. We just went through over 3.5 years of the left media overtly promoting the false narrative of Russian Collusion against former President Trump.

    I’m not a Trump fan and criticize him often, however the actions of the Democrat party officials and Establishment Elites, is simply disgusting. It’s easy to understand why Trump and Sanders populist messages gained ground with disillusioned citizens.

    The Establishment Elites are the swamp creatures that Sanders and Trump complain about. The solutions that Trump and Sanders propose are quite different, but at the root issues overlap.

    1. “One could easily argue that there is as much disinformation on the left as there is on the right. ”

      It would be very hard to argue that there is not far more. Disinformation is not merely something the Left happens to do; it’s a core part of their ideology.

      “Subjective truth”, “lived experience”, “other ways of knowing”, and of course “critical theory” are all euphemisms for “fake news”.

  35. Nothing makes a Democrat livid quite like someone infringing on his monopoly on fake news.

  36. This is very similar to the retarded right complaining about Trump and others being banned from Twitter, Facebook and other social media. So the same rules apply here. If you don’t like what Comcast is doing, don’t use the service. Same with social media. If you don’t like those who post conspiracy theories like or former president Trump, then don’t use the service.

    And then there is the other alternative. You can start your own cable company or social media website. Or if you like none of the alternatives that we have here in the USA, you can move out of the country to one that is more accepting of your wants and needs. But the bad news is that you probably won’t find anywhere better than here.

    1. This is very similar to the retarded right complaining about Trump and others being banned from Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

      No it’s not. The argument is that people get banned by Twitter in a manner inconsistent with their TOS and because of the selective interpretation of S230 in Twitter’s favor, the banned are left without recourse. And this unconstitutional selective protection of speech is so shot through the ’96 CDA that S230’s title makes clear that its intent is to selectively protect some forms of speech but not others. Building your own separate media company doesn’t solve the problem because you either acquiesce to the same unconstitutional rules for protection or face disparate liability in the competitive market.

      It’s actually more analogous to the $15/hr. minimum wage, where Walmart, Amazon, etc. could have whatever pay policies they like without legislation right now but, instead, are using legislation to enact burdensome and anti-competitive practices on their competition.

      Just because other countries are worse on free speech is not a reason for allowing Congress to regulate free speech in this country.

      1. Just because other countries are worse on free speech is not a reason for allowing Congress to regulate free speech in this country.

        Not only because of the mess it has created with regard to social media but, with the above as evidence, Congress will proceed to bully other industries into “accepting” their protection from free speech trolls and goblins that lurk under the bed.

  37. Fascist Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California, clearly manifest why California should be expelled from the Union. Sooner is better.

  38. For our lawmakers to suggest censorship, regardless of the reason, approaches treason. It is simply not their job or responsibility to even consider doing so.

    Yes, the Right has their propaganda machine as does the Left. The Left-leaning media espouses just as much as the Right.

    Government Officials even suggesting to private and public companies such a thing should be charged. What really happens? They portray themselves as the protectors of We The Stupid.

    Didn’t McCarthy do something along the same lines during their fight against Communism?

    I watch no TV news. I listen to very little radio news ever since NPR has commercialized their broadcasts. I do read the news online – not social media. When reading an article it takes little effort to figure out if it’s a biased article or honest reporting. With the former, I may finish the article for the laugh factor but never do I take it into consideration.

  39. . . .because this worked so well in the Third Reich, Soviet Union and North Korea . . ?

  40. “Calls to regulate tech companies because Facebook, Twitter, and Google make moderation decisions that irritate conservatives are also threats to free speech. Members of both political parties are intent on wielding their power to curb the speech of their adversaries”

    How do calls to prevent social media companies from banning conservative speech via regulation amount to “curbing the speech” of conservatives’ adversaries? I agree that it is a “threat” to the free speech rights of corporations, but it’s super awesome to have all the first amendment rights of a human being PLUS blanket immunity from the liability that provides a remedy for defamatory speech and discrimination.

    You’re right to say lawsuits are the traditional remedy for those who wish to combat defamatory misinformation. But not for social media companies. If a group of Twitter users decided to come after you with false and defamatory claims, and Twitter allowed their accusations to stand, boosted them via the algorithm into “trending”, and then banned you and every other user who posted evidence of your innocence, you couldn’t sue Twitter over it. They could admit in court that they knew the information was false and they intentionally amplified it and banned anyone who objected because they just don’t like you and wanted your reputation to be destroyed. Wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t get past the first demurrer or motion for summary dismissal.

    I don’t know what the solution is, but calling for regulation (treat interactive computer services like utilities) or for Section 230 reform (to bring it in line with the spirit of the first amendment) is NOT about curbing anyone’s speech.

    And as long as we’re talking about misinformation, I’ll direct you to Glenn Greenwald’s Substack, where he’s published a thorough debunking of some of the most extreme false and unsubstantiated claims surrounding the alleged “worst bad day of the century” (the Capitol riot).

    Zip tie guy didn’t bring them hoping to hunt down and take hostage members of congress. He found the zip ties on a table and grabbed them so Capitol police couldn’t use them, according to his own prosecutor. Officer Sicknick almost certainly didn’t die from blunt force trauma. He texted his brother from the hospital to tell him that other than being bear sprayed, he was fine. The DOJ walked back initial (viral) claims that there were “kill-capture” teams there, planning to assassinate members of congress, saying there was “no direct evidence” of that intent. No evidence of “panic buttons” being torn out of certain members’ offices, either.

    It would appear to me that the above misinformation has justified a 20,000+ National Guard presence, and miles of razor wire, as a necessary precaution to protect the “most voted for president in American history.” It’s also launched a program to interrogate the military as to their political views, and provided ballast for ever more government surveillance of citizens who might be “insurrectionists”.

    But yeah. Conservatives not wanting to be banned from social media is 100% about curbing their opponents’ speech.

    1. Section 230 reform (to bring it in line with the spirit of the first amendment)

      This can’t be done. Section 230 violates the 1A prima facia. To reform section 230 would be to recreate the rest of the CDA, which was struck down, from the piece that ‘penaltax’ SCOTUS was able to retcon in Congress’s favor.

      Repeal S230 and let Twitter defend themselves against defamation under the merits of the 1A. If there are too many suits for Twitter to handle, roll them up into class action as has been done for decades. If the judge believes the cases are politically motivated and without merit, let them toss them out on that basis. S230, as is, is plainly unconstitutional. Reforming it asserts that Congress can take a law that the Constitution explicitly forbades them from making and, with enough tweaking, abide by the Constitution.

  41. This “both sides” do it spiel is tired … and intellectually dishonest. The Dems are blatantly trying to intimidate media providers from airing anyone who is their ideological opponent. Republicans threaten social media providers who are silencing views they (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) don’t agree with. One is trying to stop speech. The other is trying to allow it. Acting like these are the same thing is ridiculous.

  42. Yet these same dweebs go apopleptic when a businessman with a brick and mortar store tries to “decide” what values he will support or promote when he is asked to do any creative work for “certain kinds of people’.

    If I were living in some town somewhere, and the road to the next town was a wretched stip of potholes, mudsinks, etc, and hazardous, and I spent MY money and effort to build a NEW road and charged a toll for all users, I suppose these congresscritters would be fine if I were to establish, at the tool booths, questionaires to determine the moral, or social, or poitical, or spiritual “preferences” of putative users of y toll road, and deny use of my road by those of certain categories’ of thought/values, etc, they’d have me in court in about two tenths of a nanosecond. Yet they insist they have the a “awTHOR-a-teh to tell information distributors what “information” is acceptible and what must be stopped.

    That ain’t the bailiwick of Congress. READ your copy of the constitution you SWORE to uphold.

  43. This is an utterly preposterous premise to conflate what is being broadcast with protected speech under the First Amendment; there are limits to free speech, to religion, to the press. You cannot, as has been said innumerable times, shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater; you cannot directly incite crowds to violence; you cannot preach sedition, nor exhort – as Maxine Waters did, incomprehensibly with as yet no legal repercussions – violence against individuals.

    Your religion cannot practice a belief that no other religion is to be permitted – yet that is precisely what cancel culture has created among those who do not believe as the left does. What is being broadcast is propaganda, not genuine speech, and sedition against the government. The suppression of news about factual matters germane to the election process last November is scurrilous.

    The social media cannot with one breath claim to be merely platforms, free from the consequences of what appears on them, while also editing what appears on their platforms selectively as a publisher. They must be held accountable and their monopolies broken up; they are using their monopoly power in social communication to apply pressure and bias in the electoral process, in direct violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. It has gone on to gross excess for 4 years. It must be stopped. It matters not a whit who is doing it. It must be stopped!

  44. Fact check?

    “Today two Communist members of Congress”

  45. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

    How about Congress members who violate this oath are impeachable and subject to censure.

  46. He’s right Congress shouldn’t moderate speech. He’s right. Usually libel law keeps people from the most destructive speech. What he doesn’t mention in this article is that libel law doesn’t apply to FB or Twitter due to Section 230. Repeal Section 230 & everyone gets what they want. Lefties & Righties can sue liars on social media & the government stays out of speech decisions. There are already lawsuits against Fox, OAN, & Newsmax.

  47. Lawmakers to Internet Hosts: Why Are You Letting Reason.com Say These Things?

  48. They took an oath to uphold the constitution. Attacking 1st Amendment freedoms violate that oath. IMPEACHMENT

  49. Government will seize every power that we don’t vigorously withhold from it.
    Vigor is badly needed here.

  50. Ordering censorship versus fighting censorship. Sure, totally the same thing.

    How do these stupid equivocations continue to get published? Mill is rolling in his grave.

  51. The First Amendment doesn’t have a carve out for ‘falsehoods, misinformation or disinformation.
    This assault on conservative speech is disgusting.

  52. This is why Free Talk Live launched a social media platform, social.freetalklive.com

  53. Why Are You Letting News Channels Say These Things?
    Alan Dershowitz, a LIBERAL civil rights lawyer got it right, he said it is not a question, it is intimidation, it is unconstitutional, an it is using the power of the government to censor people.

    How is it Alan Dershowitz a LIBERAL gets it that these people are evil and trying to destroy the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to build a radical left-wing socialist dictatorship, but the “supposedly” libertarian Reason, that backed Biden in the last election, has not figured it out yet?
    Shame on Reason.

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