Two prominent House Democrats sent a letter to AT&T, Comcast and Amazon, as well as other distributors, asking if they would like to continue running Fox News, One America News Network and Newsmax.
In the letter, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) highlight the networks as “misinformation rumors and breeding grounds for conspiracy theory that produce content that leads to real harm”.
“Misinformation on television has resulted in our currently polluted information environment, radicalizing individuals to commit seditious acts and rejecting public health best practices, including in our public discourse,” they wrote in the letters. (Read them here). The letter was sent to 12 cable, satellite and streaming companies.
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Eshoo and McNerney are members of House Energy & Commerce’s Communication and Technology Subcommittee, which is holding a hearing on Wednesday on the spread of disinformation and extremism on traditional media platforms, including broadcast and cable networks.
A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement, “As the most watched cable news station in 2020, Fox News Media provided millions of Americans with in-depth coverage, cutting edge coverage and clear opinion. It is a terrible precedent for individual members of Congress to highlight the political speech they dislike and urge cable distributors to get involved from a discrimination standpoint. “
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote a memo quoting a number of incidents over the past few months, including those related to the 2020 presidential election and the ensuing siege of the Capitol and spreading false claims about the Covid-19 crisis.
“It wasn’t until after the riot in the Capitol, after five people were killed and over 100 injured, that a radio group that broadcasts programs by many popular talk radio hosts who regularly spread disinformation distributed a memo urging airborne personalities to No longer claiming this. The election was stolen, ”he wrote. “Some cable media have taken legal action to withdraw segments that are withdrawing election fraud claims on their networks. Similarly, following a backlash, a specific broadcast media conglomerate canceled a segment claiming Dr. Anthony Fauci helped create COVID-19. However, other disinformation about the pandemic continued to air at this point of sale. “The latter was a reference to a segment in Sinclair’s America The Week with Eric Bolling. The show was recently discontinued.
In their letter, Eshoo and McNerney ask the television distributors if they intend to continue broadcasting the channels. Further questions are:
– “What moral or ethical principles (including those relating to journalistic integrity, violence, medical information, and public health) do you use to decide which channels to promote or when to take negative action against a channel?”
– “What steps did you take before, on and after the November 3, 2020 elections and January 6, 2021 attacks to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouraging or inciting? Has violence spread to millions of Americans through your company’s channels? Please describe each step you took and when it was taken. “
– “Have you taken negative action against any channel, including Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, to use your platform to disseminate disinformation directly or indirectly related to the November 3, 2020 election, the January 6, 2020 Capitol riot? 2021 or COVID? -19 misinformation? If so, please describe each action, when it was taken and the parties involved. “
Those expected to testify at Wednesday’s hearing include Soledad O’Brien, anchor of the syndicated factual issue; Emily Bell, professor of journalism at Columbia University; Kristin Danielle Urquiza, co-founder of Marked by Covid; and Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University Law School.