Using the wreckage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as leverage, corporate media and the pundit class postured themselves as the de facto arbiters of public opinion, and promptly set their sights on conservative media.
They took almost no time to pounce.
Within hours of the riots, corporate media reporters and pundits pointed to the presence of Proud Boys at the Capitol riots and organizing on social media. They implied or outright called for more censorship and encouraged the White House to enact new domestic surveillance powers. Naturally, deplatforming media companies that do not adhere to the dominant liberal orthodoxy became a subject of serious discussion.
Facebook’s former chief security officer Alex Stamos alleged during a Jan. 17 segment of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that conservative influencers and media outlets have “abused” press freedom, and advocated deplatforming conservatives from both traditional and social media.
“We have given a lot of leeway — both in the traditional media and on social media — to people who have a very broad range of political views,” Stamos told CNN host Brian Stelter. “We have to turn down the capability of these conservative influencers to reach these huge audiences.”
Former Facebook insider Alex Stamos tells @brianstelter: “We have to turn down the capability of these Conservative influencers to reach these huge audiences… There are people on YouTube for example that have a larger audience than daytime CNN.” pic.twitter.com/gP0XtnjhCQ
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 17, 2021
Stamos singled out One America News Network (OANN) and Newsmax in particular and accused those outlets of promoting “violent extremism” in the same vein as the Islamic terrorist group ISIS.
“We are going to have to figure out the OANN and Newsmax problem. These companies have freedom of speech, but I’m not sure we need Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and such bringing them into tens of millions of homes,” he told Stelter.
CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy also commented on the “Reliable Sources” segment in a Jan. 17 tweet, adding that broadcasters and cable providers should be asked “about why they beam channels” like OANN and Newsmax. (RELATED: Newsroom Staff Revolts Become Common In The News Media’s War Against Intellectual Diversity)
“Do they have any second thoughts about distributing these channels given their election denialism content?” Darcy asked.
Just a reminder that neither @Verizon, @ATT, nor @comcast have answered any questions about why they beam channels like OAN & Newsmax into millions of homes. Do they have any second thoughts about distributing these channels given their election denialism content? They won’t say.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) January 17, 2021
Earlier this month, Darcy questioned in a CNN Business article why cable providers continue to air conservative media after some outlets contested the results of the 2020 election. Darcy singled out Fox News in particular and claimed the network was just as “irresponsible and dangerous” as comparatively smaller outlets like OANN and Newsmax.
“Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin and others are responsible for the lies they peddle to their audiences,” Darcy wrote. “But the TV companies that beam them into millions of homes around the country also bear some responsibility.”
Fox News host Tucker Carlson responded to the accusation during a Jan. 7 segment of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and noted that CNN was effectively “calling for censorship” of a competitor.
“CNN staffers have already contacted the six major cable carriers in this country, the companies that carry our signal into your home, and pressured them to drop Fox News,” Carlson said. “Here you have a news company calling for censorship, a TV network demanding that media conglomerates ban its competitors.”
No cable provider has openly discussed dropping Fox News or any other conservative outlet. Such a move would lead to intense backlash and almost certainly a legal challenge before the Federal Communications Commission over preferential treatment, according to Bloomberg.
Targeting Fox News in particular could present a conflict of interest for CNN given that the two are competing news networks. Although unlikely, even one cable provider dropping Fox News could lead to a substantial loss in revenue for Fox Corporation.
While Stelter and Darcy have not personally called for cable providers to drop media outlets, their actions constitute a pressure campaign against broadcasters to silence conservative media. CNN is also not alone in this effort.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argued in a Jan. 13 editorial that “cable providers should be asked why they distribute channels that peddle lies.” Washington Post columnist Max Boot wrote in a Jan. 18 editorial that cable providers should “step in and kick Fox News off.”
These developments are a response to the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, but corporate media outlets pressuring providers to silence conservative outlets is not new.
After NBC News raised concerns about coverage of last year’s George Floyd riots from The Federalist, Google notified the conservative outlet in June that their website would be blocked from using Google’s ad platform. NBC News and Google later released contradictory messages in response to backlash.
wtf is this update? No correction, the offending quotes aren’t even removed. Their story now has active contradictions pic.twitter.com/VqFa2TpdoB
— Grant Addison (@jgrantaddison) June 16, 2020
But the push to silence conservative media has since gained steam after multiple outlets were accused of promoting election misinformation that ultimately fueled the Capitol riot earlier this month. These efforts come after tech companies like Twitter and Facebook permanently suspended Trump’s social media accounts and purged thousands of conservative users.
Corporate media has now provided a platform for Democratic lawmakers and progressive commentators who not only want to silence conservative media but also “deprogram” Trump supporters. (RELATED: The Left’s New Plan To ‘Deprogram’ Trump Supporters Is Gaining Steam)
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and “1619 Project” lead writer Nikole Hannah-Jones likened Trump voters to “members of a cult” during an MSNBC segment Jan. 12 and insinuated that the 75 million people who voted for the former president would “have to be deprogrammed.”
Even before the Capitol riot, California Democrats’ regional director David Atkins suggested in a series of tweets Nov. 17 that conservatives should be re-educated the way citizens of Nazi Germany and Japan were after World War II.
No seriously…how *do* you deprogram 75 million people? Where do you start? Fox? Facebook?
We have to start thinking in terms of post-WWII Germany or Japan. Or the failures of Reconstruction in the South.
— David Atkins (@DavidOAtkins) November 18, 2020