House Republicans have called on acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel to denounce in no uncertain terms efforts by House Democrats to pressure video distributors over their carriage of Fox News, Newsmax TV and OANN.
That came in a letter to Rosenworcel Wednesday (Feb. 24) in advance of a hearing later Wednesday called by those House Democrats and looking into traditional media's role in promoting disinformation and extremism. The Republicans' letter also followed one from a pair of powerful Democrats (see below) asking major cable and online distributors to defend their carriage of the above networks.
Of that letter to a dozen distributors, the Republican's called it an attempt "to pressure these companies to block certain conservative media outlets disguised as congressional oversight.
In their letter, House Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Communications and Technology Republican Subcommittee Leader Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said the Democrats were advocating for government-sanctioned censorship and said Rosenworcel needed to defend Free Speech and a free press by "unequivocally denouncing" the Democrats' efforts.
"As Acting chairwoman of the Commission, it is incumbent upon you to use your position to preserve and protect our fundamental freedoms that are protected by the First Amendment. You can, and must, denounce any attempts by government officials to use their power to threaten a free press at such an important time in our Nation’s history," they wrote.
"We demand you stand on the side of free-speech and an independent press and publicly express your opposition to reinstating the Fairness Doctrine immediately," they said. "That is the FCC doctrine that required media outlets regulated by the FCC to seek out opposing viewpoints on controversial topics of public importance. Democrats have periodically threatened to restore it--the FCC deep-sixed it in 1987--particularly as a response to the rise of conservative talk radio.
"We also request that you denounce the recent attacks on the First Amendment by House Democrats and provide us a written response outlining in detail the steps you will take to uphold your prior commitments to free speech and a free press and how you intend to protect these principles."
Earlier this week, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both California Democrats, both members of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, wrote to those dozen cable, satellite and streaming companies calling on them to better combat disinformation--which they principally identified as Fox, Newsmax and OANN--and asked the whether they were going to continue to carry those outlets and, if so, why? The letters came in advance of the hearing Wednesday in the House Energy & Commerce Committee entitled “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.”
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