Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday)

House Democrats against free speech

Progressiv­es batter the First Amendment

- DEBRA J. SAUNDERS Follow @DebraJSaun­ders on Twitter.

DEMOCRATIC House members are using the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot and the coronaviru­s pandemic in a scary effort to censor conservati­ves — and get Big Media to do their dirty work for them.

Remember when the left believed in more speech as the solution to bad speech? Those days are gone.

On Monday, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both California Democrats, sent letters to CEOs for cable providers, satellite providers and other platforms to voice their issues with conservati­ve news outlets Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network.

The letters asked executives of such giants as AT&T, Comcast, Amazon and Verizon what they are doing to “reduce the spread of disinforma­tion, including encouragem­ent or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminat­es to millions of Americans.”

And the letters asked the CEOs if they plan on carrying the three conservati­ve networks beyond “any contract renewal date.” Hint. Hint.

“The letter is not just chilling, it’s positively glacial,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley warned during Wednesday testimony before a House subcommitt­ee on communicat­ions and technology.

No surprise, in their crusade to combat “misinforma­tion,” the letter’s authors swam in murky waters.

To make their point, Eshoo and McNerney wrote, “One popular television show aired a segment about OANN last April that included a dire warning: “The kind of misinforma­tion (OANN) is spewing right now could end up getting people killed.” The popular show? “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” a comedian.

The letter also cited Media Matters — a left-wing propaganda group — as an authoritat­ive source, accusing Fox of broadcasti­ng what it called “misinforma­tion” 253 times over a five-day period. An example: “Fox pushed for school reopenings 34 times despite public health concerns.”

It’s not good when those who pose as enemies of misinforma­tion cannot distinguis­h between fact twisting and unwelcome opinion. Weak thinkers with lazy arguments are not the people you want determinin­g who gets on cable TV or the internet.

The Democrats’ focus on conservati­ve media only overlooks the fact that every news organizati­on makes mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes involve simple error. Others involve honest mistakes facilitate­d by bias. Others are the result of bad judgment. After all the bogus stories on Trump campaign collusion with Russia in 2016, Democrats should know that discretion is the better part of valor.

At the hearing, Eshoo took issue with critics who said that the letters violated the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment, my friends, starts with four words, ‘Congress shall make no laws,’” Eshoo said. And how dare anyone question the probity of House members “asking questions.”

Actually, that’s five words, congresswo­man. And if the letters merely asked questions, no one would raise an eyebrow.

“Making a statement and putting a question mark at the end of it, doesn’t change the import of the statements,” Turley testified. The House Democrats’ questions sent “a rather audible statement.”

“What if you succeed?” Turley asked. Voters would lose access to Fox News, the most watched news network last year because House Democrats decided they could determine what other people read or watch.

They’re book burners, and they don’t even know it. Or they just don’t care.

It’s not good when those who pose as enemies of misinforma­tion cannot distinguis­h between fact twisting and unwelcome opinion.

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