Breitbart News has reported that Democrats, led by Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), are trying to include the misguidedly-named “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” (JCPA) in the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA), a must-pass spending bill to fund the U.S. military.
Republicans should block this last-ditch effort to attach the JCPA, which has absolutely nothing to do with national security and would harm conservative voices and independent journalism, to the NDAA. Lawmakers should save consideration of JCPA – and all other antitrust proposals – for the 118th Congress.
The JCPA creates an antitrust exemption to allow print, broadcast, or digital news companies to form a legal cartel in negotiations with online platforms that host their content. This media cartel would then negotiate the terms in which digital platforms are allowed to distribute content. If passed, this would allow liberal legacy media outlets to box conservative and independent outlets out of the cartels.
The left’s narrative is that Big Tech companies are squashing traditional journalism, especially local newspapers. In reality, global newspaper circulation has been on the decline since 1989, long predating platforms like Facebook or Google. Tech companies already pay billions of dollars in licensing fees to prop up legacy media, making claims that media companies need an antitrust exemption to extract more special favors from Big Tech dubious at best.
Digitization of the news and the rise of social media has led consumers to look outside traditional outlets for their news. This competition in the news industry has benefited conservatives, who now have unprecedented opportunity to get their message out without depending on traditional biased news outlets. The JCPA risks undermining this progress by empowering establishment media companies, traditionally biased against conservatives, to collude when negotiating with Big Tech platforms.
As Breitbart reports, the bill as written contains several red-herring provisions that supposedly protect against viewpoint discrimination. The bill DOES allow cartels to exclude outlets based on ‘misinformation,’ ‘fake news,’ ‘trustworthiness,’ and other spurious justifications that legacy media always uses to shut down conservative and independent outlets.
Conservative lawmakers opposed to the bill include Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). All of these lawmakers understand the threat of greenlighting collusion between Big Tech and legacy media under the flimsy guise of “protecting local journalism.”
Desperate Democrats know that their last chance to pass the JCPA during the lame duck session of Congress is to include it in a must-pass vehicle. Republicans should keep JCPA out of NDAA and block any additional attempts to include radical antitrust rewrites in must-pass vehicles during lame duck.