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‘A chilling transgression’ of free speech: FCC commissioner slams 2 House Dems asking cable companies if they plan to keep conservative outlets

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FCC commissioner Brendan Carr

Ahead of a Wednesday congressional hearing regarding the role of companies that provide cable television service in the spread of misinformation concerning the 2020 election, two committee members sent a letter to cable providers Monday asking if they plan to continue carrying outlets such as Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News Network (OANN).

The New York Times was the first to report on the story.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr issued a stern denouncement of the letter, calling it “a chilling transgression of the free speech rights that every media outlet in this country enjoys.”

Fox News in particular has been the target of a $2.5 billion defamation lawsuit from the election technology company Smartmatic accusing the outlet, as well as a handful of anchors and frequent guests, of spreading misinformation about voting machines and the company itself. Fox has denied Smartmatic’s claims and filed a motion to throw out the lawsuit.

In the lead-up to the hearing, titled “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media,” two Democrat members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday penned a letter to AT&T, Comcast, Dish, Spectrum, Verizon, Cox, and Altice, inquiring about their role in “the spread of dangerous misinformation.”

“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,” California Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney wrote in the letter, per The Times.

“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 the companies.

“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, OANN and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date?” the letter continues. “If so, why?”

In his denouncement of the letter, Carr also said that, “Debate on matters of public interest should be robust, uninhibited, and wide open. More speech is better than less.” He continued, saying, “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,” he added, “not targeted by them.”

Fox News also denounced the congressional effort, saying in a statement, according to The Times: “For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and demand cable distributors engage in viewpoint discrimination sets a terrible precedent.”

Dominion Voting Systems, another election technology company at the center of 2020 election fraud allegations, has sued three Trump-aligned individuals who spread dubious claims about the company and its voting machines following Election Day, with the individuals having appeared on Newsmax in the weeks after the election. Two of former members of former President Donald Trump‘s legal, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, were sued in separate lawsuits last month, each demanding over $1 billion in damages. On Monday, Dominion sued Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow.

Newsmax defended its election coverage as accurate and called the letter an “attack on free speech,” The Times also reported.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village

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Screen Shot 2021 01 08 at 11.55.24 AM

Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.

But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.

Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19

The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.

Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China

The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”

Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World

The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”

In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.

While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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