Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called an effort by House Democrats to pressure cable providers into removing Fox News and other conservative networks a “chilling transgression” of free speech, and asked his colleagues on the commission to denounce the lawmakers.
“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,” Carr said in a Monday statement. “This is a chilling transgression of the free speech rights that every media outlet in this country enjoys.”
In a Monday letter, California Reps. Anna Eshoo (D) and Jerry McNerney (D) demanded that television providers including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Apple, and Amazon say whether they planned to continue providing Fox News on their platforms, in addition to Newsmax and One America News.
“Debate on matters of public interest should be robust, uninhibited and wide open,” Carr said. “More speech is better than less. 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,” he added. “I call on my FCC colleagues to join me in publicly denouncing this attempt to stifle political speech and independent news judgment.”
Press Release: Eshoo, McNerney Urge TV Companies to Address Spread of Misinformation
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and Jerry McNerney (CA-09), senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, sent a letter today to 12 cable, satellite, and streaming TV companies urging them to combat the spread of misinformation and requesting more information about their actions to address misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies spread through channels they host.
“Nearly half of Americans get their news primarily from TV. However, not all TV news sources are the same. Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm,” wrote the members. “Misinformation on TV has led to our current polluted information environment that radicalizes individuals to commit seditious acts and rejects public health best practices, among other issues in our public discourse.”
This letter comes ahead of Wednesday’s House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on traditional media’s role in promoting disinformation and extremism.
Companies receiving letters include AT&T, Verizon, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Charter, Dish, Cox, Altice, Alphabet, and Hulu.
To view the full text of the letters see PDF below.
Full Text of Eshoo McNerney Letter Urging TV Companies to Address Spread of Misinformation PDFEshoo-McNerney-TV-Misinfo-Letters-2.22.21