FCC's Carr: House Dems Are Trying to Censor Newsrooms

FCC commissioner Brendan Carr
(Image credit: FCC)

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has fired back at two prominent Democratic members of Congress for suggesting that cable, satellite and streaming video distributors would be combatting disinformation by dropping Fox News, Newsmax TV and One America News Network, saying those legislators are trying "to drive political dissent from the public square."

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He called on his fellow commissioners to join him in condemning the effort.

Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both California Democrats, have written to a dozen cable, satellite and streaming companies calling on them to better combat disinformation--which they principally identify as Fox, Newsmax and OANN--and grilling them on what they plan to do about it.

In response to the news of those letters, Carr, who has been an outspoken critic of what many Republicans see as attacks on conservatives from the left, left no doubt what he thought of the letters, calling them "a chilling transgression of the free speech rights that every media outlet in this country enjoys."

“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. 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 that the legislators' effort to get various video distributors--including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Dish, Roku and Amazon, to tell them what "moral principles" guide their decision on what news outlets to carry can't be reconciled with free speech principles.

The letters and Carr's response comes in advance of a hearing this week on the role of traditional media in promoting disinformation and extremism--streaming is apparently now in that category, or at least has been included on that side of the ledger as opposed to social media companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, which have taken most of the disinformation heat.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.