Republican Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said that efforts to censor certain conservative networks “sounds like actions from the Chinese Communist Party” during a House hearing on “disinformation and extremism in the media” Wednesday.
The House Committee on Energy & Commerce held a hearing titled “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media,” which saw lawmakers and witnesses debate whether conservative networks like Newsmax, One America News Network and Fox News should be taken off the air due to coverage that some Democrats claim led to violence.
Rodgers began by ripping House Democrats’ efforts to pressure big tech into censoring conservative media during her opening statement. (RELATED: House Democrats Pressure TV Broadcasters To Deplatform Conservative Networks)
“Elected officials using their platform to pressure private companies to censor media outlets they disagree with? That sounds like actions from the Chinese Communist Party, not duly elected representatives of the United States Congress,” Rodgers said. “Here, we cherish free speech and a free, independent press. We believe in dialogue and in the battle of ideas.”
Rodgers also noted that the “new approach” could cause much of media to die out, pointedly using CNN hosting New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo throughout the global pandemic as an example.
“As you once put it, ‘to stay silent could undermine the First Amendment.'” she said. “So let’s come together and let’s make sure that we do not have a censorship campaign based upon political ideology or someone saying something you disagree with. That’s not the standard we want to set. Under your new approach, a lot of media would cease to exist. Should CNN still be carried after hosting Gov. Cuomo?”
She continued on to note that “media lauded” Cuomo “and legitimized his lethal response to COVID-19.” Cuomo’s mandate forced nursing home facilities to accept patients who had previously tested positive for the virus and new reports suggest his administration may have intentionally undercounted the subsequent deaths.
“How do we know it was misinformation?” Rodgers asked. “Because of a balance of networks that pursued investigative journalism. Should MSNBC be carried after years of pushing the false ‘Russia collusion’ narrative? Thanks to independent journalists and a robust free press, we’ve learned their reporting was false.”
Rodgers also questioned where the censorship would stop and asked if it should “be applied to social media” as well. She called the initiative “un-American” and accused Democrats involved of trying to “redefine for yourselves what is true.”
Throughout her spirited opening statement, Rodgers repeatedly cited the First Amendment. She called the censorship attempts an “obvious, direct attack” on it and noted that “today, the media is the target” while wondering who the initiative would “end” with.
“If the majority was really interested in a meaningful dialogue, you wouldn’t schedule a hyper-partisan hearing to shame and blame,” she said to her Democratic counterparts. “You wouldn’t be sending letters, pressuring private companies to block conservative media outlets. I’m not only disappointed in this hearing, I’m deeply troubled by it.”