A House subcommittee on Wednesday hearing about disinformation from the media, particularly on cable news, predictably collapsed by party-political standards. However, representatives and other speakers agreed that in times of increasingly polarized media and the rise of falsehoods, the topic is of great importance.
Much of the disagreement arose from a letter sent by members of the California Democratic Committee this week Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney to distributors of pay TV and streaming services deciphering a “right-wing media ecosystem” that they claim is more prone to disinformation and lies. They ask why they continue to like “right wing media” Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network (OAN).
The letter focuses on false information about COVID-19 and the presidential election, claiming that this hampered the public health response to the pandemic and led to the January 6th U.S. Capitol revolt. (The letter quotes a USA TODAY history in one of his 16 footnotes.)
“Partiality and polarization in the media have increased for years, but these recent events reflect a point of appalling escalation,” said US Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., During the remote hearing. Citing testimony, he added, “Media companies have increasingly abandoned journalistic standards to chase audience share and higher profits.”
Senior minority member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Objected to the hearing on the title “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media” and called the letter a one-sided affront to a free press.
“In all of my time on this committee, there has never been a more obvious or direct attack on the First Amendment,” she said. “Condemning the January 6th attack and upholding truth and facts is a shared, bipartisan goal. If the majority were genuinely interested in meaningful dialogue, you would not be planning a bipartisan hearing to shame and blame. You wouldn’t do it. ” Sending letters pressuring private companies to block conservative media. “
“Congress cannot and should not regulate journalism in spite of the First Amendment, but here’s what we can do: Don’t book liars and don’t promote lies. Cover up the fact that lies and propaganda are being spread but booking Don’t get people to lie on your show because it elevates it and presents a lie as another side, “said O’Brien, who said the problem was exacerbated by a sharp decline in reliable local news organizations.
Jonathan Turley, Professor at George Washington University Law School, the spoke out against impeachment In former President Donald Trump’s first trial, the Democrats’ letter to service providers, which include AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Amazon, was scrutinized.
“From the point of view of freedom of speech and the free press, the letter is not only a deterrent, it is also positively icy,” he said. “I admit that I may be a relic in my views, but I still believe that the greatest protection against bad language is better language.”
Kristin Urquiza, co-founder of the base, non-profit Marked by COVID tell the stories of people affected by coronavirus and push for better public health policies, accuses Trump and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey for sending out messages last spring saying they caused her father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, to drop his guard. He died of COVID-19 on June 30th.
“The main person and organization responsible for the deaths of my father and (those of) hundreds of thousands of people in the United States is Donald Trump and his administration,” said Urquiza, who was Trump during a speech at the Democratic National Convention 2020. “For the people in this room and this sacred body who blindly followed the president without asking, brought the party across the country, you and your colleagues are enablers. For the media, and especially for cable news, you were complicit. These actors may not be complicit. ” I pulled the trigger that pointed to my father’s head, but they actually drove the getaway car. “
Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, both Fox and Newsmax responded to the Democratic letter to the television network.
“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,” Fox said in a statement. “So that individual members of Congress can highlight their political speech.” Cable distributors that don’t deal with point of view and demand discrimination are a terrible precedent. ”
Newsmax said, “The House Democrats’ attack on free speech and basic first adjustment rights should chill all Americans. Newsmax reported fairly and accurately on the allegations and allegations made by both sides during the recent election campaign. “
OAN did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.