Brandon Carr, one of four current FCC commissioners, slammed House Democrats in a statement on Monday afternoon for trying to crackdown on right-leaning television channels in response to the events that happened after the November elections, saying that Democrats were trying to stifle “political dissent.”
Democrat Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (CA) and Jerry McNerney (CA) wrote a letter to cable news providers and streaming platforms pressuring them on the issue of combatting “the spread of dangerous disinformation.” Companies that received the letter include Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, Dish, Verizon, Cox, Altice, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu. The letter was sent in advance of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing this Wednesday, dubbed “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.”
“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,” the letter said, according to The New York Times. The report specifically targeted right-leaning news networks ranging from mainstream companies like Fox News to more fringe networks like OAN.
“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, OANN and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date?” the letter says. “If so, why?”
“What steps did you take prior to, on and following the Nov. 3, 2020, elections and the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks to monitor, respond to and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans?” the letter asked.
Carr slammed Democrats’ “chilling” attack on free speech in a statement he released following The New York Times’ report.
“Today, two senior Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee selectively targeted a handful of news media outlets for their coverage of political events,” Carr said. “By writing letters to the cable providers and other regulated entities that carry these news media outlets, the Democrats are sending a message that is as clear as it is troubling-these regulated entities will pay a price if the targeted newsrooms do not conform to Democrats’ preferred political narratives. This is a chilling transgression of the free speech rights that every media outlet in this country enjoys.”
“Debate on matters of public interest should be robust, uninhibited, and wide open. More speech is better than less,” he said. “Yet the concerted effort by Democrats to drive political dissent from the public square represents a marked departure from these First Amendment norms. A newsroom’s decision about what stories to cover and how to frame them should be beyond the reach of any government official, not targeted by them.”
“To the House Democrats that used their official letterhead to launch this inquiry, I would say this: Your demand to know the ‘moral principles’ that guide a private entity ‘s decision about what news to carry cannot be reconciled with bedrock principles of free speech and journalistic freedom,” the statement concluded. “I call on my FCC colleagues to join me in publicly denouncing this attempt to stifle political speech and independent news judgment.”