Ben Shapiro Set To Testify To Congress On Alleged Collusion Against Conservatives In Ad Industry

Ben Shapiro/Jim Jordan
Shapiro: The Daily Wire / Jordan: Tierney L. Cross/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Daily Wire’s Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro is set to testify to Congress on Wednesday for its hearing on the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, which is under investigation by the House Judiciary Committee for organizing its member organizations to work in coordination to demonetize disfavored news outlets.

The Judiciary Committee’s investigation into GARM began more than a year ago, when Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote to the head of GARM and its parent organization, the World Federation of Advertisers, to alert them that the committee believed GARM was “potentially violating U.S. antitrust law by coordinating their members’ efforts to demonetize and eliminate disfavored content online.” In the past year that investigation has gotten more targeted, with the committee specifically charging that GARM targeted conservative outlets including The Daily Wire, Breitbart, and Fox News.

Shapiro has also long had GARM in his sights — the advertiser coalition which controls 90% of global advertising dollars and counts the biggest corporations in the world as its members was the subject of the first episode of his Facts series. He described GARM as part of “a network of global elites who have created a universal framework full of guidelines and ratings designed to enforce ‘approved’ narratives and punish disapproved ones.”

Also testifying at the Judiciary hearing will be executives at Unilever, a consumer goods giant, and GroupM, the world’s largest media buying agency. Both are on the steering committee of GARM, and have been scrutinized by Jordan’s committee.

Jordan in letters to GARM members has said that documents the committee has obtained “directly connect” the steering committee with efforts to suppress conservative news, and show that the censorship efforts are due to politics, not the so-called “brand safety” claims that GARM bases its existence on.

“Evidence the Committee has obtained suggests that GARM members, led by Steer Team members, are colluding to demonetize conservative platforms and voices,” Jordan wrote in public correspondence to the companies. “Further, this coordination does not always revolve around ‘brand safety’ and ‘harmful’ content as GARM publicly claims, but instead the desire to censor conservative and other views that GARM members disfavor.”

GARM is a relatively new creation, created by the World Federation of Advertisers in 2019. Its flagship creation was the Brand Safety Floor & Suitability Framework, which it hopes will be used by the entire ad industry to address the “challenge of harmful online content.”

Just months after GARM was launched, it was announced by the World Economic Forum that it would become a flagship project of its “Platform for Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment and Culture.”

GARM’s stated goal is to create a “common understanding” in the whole industry of “what harmful and sensitive content is” as well as “where ads should not appear,” basing it all on the importance of “brand safety” for its members.

Shapiro has said that brand safety is “a dog whistle for censorship,” and that GARM has laid out subjective guidelines that can be used to censor news it doesn’t like.

“The framework lists subjective terms like hate speech as a problem — it says that anything surrounding transgenderism that they decide is dehumanizing or discussing what they deem to be a debated social issue in an insensitive way is off limits,” Shapiro said. “The framework is deliberately vague, allowing those in control to pick and choose how they enforce it and against whom.”

The Judiciary Committee under Jordan has already uncovered emails showing the White House pressuring social media giant Facebook to limit companies like The Daily Wire, which was the top publisher on the platform. In 2021 emails uncovered by Jordan’s committee, White House digital director Rob Flaherty suggested to Facebook that it “change the algorithm so that people were more likely to see NYT, WSJ, any authoritative news source over Daily Wire, Tomi Lahren, polarizing people.”

Members of the ad industry have called Jordan’s investigation an assault, complaining that the probe could have a “chilling effect” on its efforts to help companies responsibly spend their ad dollars.

The Judiciary Committee said the member companies know the Judiciary Committee has obtained evidence that will expose how “personal biases” drive its operations.

“These companies know the evidence collected shows that members of GARM have worked for years to spread their personal biases and censor conservative voices and journalists online,” a committee spokesman said. “These companies are simply trying to get ahead of the incriminating evidence before it becomes public.”

The Judiciary Committee subpoenaed both GARM and the WFA after it failed to produce requested documents last year. The head of GARM, Rob Rakowitz, agreed to voluntarily appear for transcribed testimony after he was called on by the committee in April.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. (EST).

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Ben Shapiro Set To Testify To Congress On Alleged Collusion Against Conservatives In Ad Industry