NANCE: The Newsmax Saga Should Be A Massive Warning Sign For Conservatives

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Penny Nance President, Concerned Women for America
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They never stop. The left’s attempts to silence conservative voices is ubiquitous and vicious.  They repress us on social media, mess with our search results on Google, cancel us in the public square, and misuse our money on Wall Street and in corporations to fund our worst enemies and woke ideological efforts. Here’s the latest battlefront: earlier this month AT&T’s DirecTV made the controversial move to cut off Newsmax’s signal, immediately leaving the network inaccessible to over 13 million customers of DirecTV, U-Verse, and DirecTV Stream. 

These actions taken against Newsmax should be a massive warning sign – not only for any fair-minded American that values free speech – but for every conservative media outlet and influencer. Recently, One America News Network (OANN) got the same treatment. Is FOX next? 

Since it first launched its news channel in 2014, Newsmax has risen to be the 4th-largest cable news network in America, welcoming the perspectives of Americans who are often ignored, or even canceled, almost everywhere else. People of faith, for example, have deeply appreciated the opportunity to hear from respected Christian and Jewish leaders on topics where their perspective is vital. Newsmax is also one of the few places where one can find accurate and insightful reporting on current events in Israel. 

That’s how it became a top 20 channel on DirecTV—serving a vastly underserved market. The left owns and operates all but a very small remnant. 

With this obvious success, it seems logical that Newsmax’s spot in the DirecTV lineup would be a no-brainer when it came time to renewing the contract. 

But that was not the case, as AT&T/DirecTV refused to offer Newsmax a licensing fee agreement – the amount the cable provider provides a channel per subscriber – despite the fact that DirecTV provides this licensing fee to other channels it carries, most of which are lower-rated channels than Newsmax. AT&T said Newsmax had demanded excessive fees.

So – one then has to ask – why has AT&T taken such an approach to one of its top-performing channels? Is this just a business deal gone bad, or is there something deeper here? 

Look no further than the cozy relationship between big corporations and D.C. liberals. 

It all started on Feb. 22, 2021, when House Democrats called on cable providers to remove Newsmax, OANN, and FOX News from their lineups. And DirecTV did just that, canceling One America News Network in April of 2022. 

And, with a new Congress in power now, there are numerous calls for investigations into these allegations from national political leaders. 

In a February letter from the National Religious Broadcasters Association to House Energy and Commerce Committee, NRB asked Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to urgently look into this issue, pointing out that  “ … Lawmakers attempting to interfere with freedom of the press, including conservative speech, by pressuring television companies is an intolerable assault on the First Amendment freedoms that all Americans hold dear, and that this association exists to defend. As a matter of integrity, the facts of the foregoing matters should be made clear to Congress and the public.”

For those keeping score at home, AT&T and DirecTV have now de-platformed 2 of the 3 networks that Democrats complained about, leaving only FOX standing … for now.

But wait, they’re smart about it too. 

After canceling Newsmax, DirecTV replaced the news channel with a conservative commentary streaming channel called The First. Bottom line, this was just good public relations posturing on the part of DirecTV to get ahead of the censorship questions that have now inevitably come from leaders such as President Donald Trump, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Governor Ron DeSantis, and others.   

We can all decry the fact that – even today, the beliefs and opinions of millions of Americans are being suppressed and censored, especially when it comes to the vital issues that affect our communities and families. But that is the reality of where we are in our nation, and we only change it when the voices that are leading the free speech fight join with the everyday voices to demand change.

For Americans who don’t find a home on other channels, Newsmax must be their line in the sand. If we allow Newsmax to be canceled, everything else is fair game. 

For ourselves and our children, we must be committed to this specific fight for free speech. 

Penny Nance is CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.