CNN is calling to shut down Fox News. “TV providers should not escape scrutiny for distributing disinformation”. Tucker Carlson: “ The crackdown on civil liberties is here, it is unprecedented. From Twitter to CNN, the left is coming for your speech“.
"Fox and Newsmax, both delivered to my home by your company, are complicit," NJ state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty texted a Comcast executive on Thursday. "What are you going to do???"
"You feed this garbage, lies and all," Moriarty added to the executive, according to a screen grab of the texts he provided me. Moriarty was referring to the fact that Comcast's cable brand, Xfinity, provides a platform to right-wing cable networks that have for weeks been disseminating disinformation about the November election results to audiences of millions.
Moriarty has a point. We regularly discuss what the Big Tech companies have done to poison the public conversation by providing large platforms to bad-faith actors who lie, mislead, and promote conspiracy theories. But what about TV companies that provide platforms to networks such as Newsmax, One America News -- and, yes, Fox News?
Somehow, these companies have escaped scrutiny and entirely dodged this conversation. That should not be the case anymore. After Wednesday's incident of domestic terrorism on Capitol Hill, it is time TV carriers face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories. After all, it was the very lies that Fox, Newsmax, and OAN spread that helped prime President Trump's supporters into not believing the truth: that he lost an honest and fair election.
Yes, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin and others are responsible for the lies they peddle to their audiences. But the TV companies that beam them into millions of homes around the country also bear some responsibility. And yet we rarely, if ever, talk about them.
Are there any rules?
Tech companies have community guidelines governing the content posted on their platforms. Do cable carriers? If so, what are they? Surely, these companies — many of which boast about their social and civic responsibilities — have limits to the content they disseminate. It's hard, for instance, to imagine they'd carry a fringe and conspiratorial network like InfoWars.
So why do AT&T (which I should note is CNN's parent company), CenturyLink, and Verizon carry OAN? Why do AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Dish carry Newsmax? And why do they all carry Fox — which is, frankly, at times just as irresponsible and dangerous with its platform as its smaller competitor networks?
I asked all of these companies for comment on Thursday. I asked them if they have any guidelines governing the content that they carry on their platforms. I asked them if they have any regret over carrying right-wing channels that were in many ways partly responsible for what took place in our nation's capital this week.
Only CenturyLink provided a comment, saying it was committed to providing "a variety of broadcast channels covering thousands of topics" and that as a company it does not "endorse specific media or outlets." CenturyLink didn't respond to a follow up email, but at least it responded in some way. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Dish did not. They chose to simply ignore the questions.
At least Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others have acknowledged they have some responsibility for the content they host and they have very clearly posted community guidelines on their websites for all to see. Why do we expect any less of TV companies?
SPEAKING OF MEDIA COMPANIES DODGING Qs...
Premiere silent after Limbaugh seemingly endorses violence
It's not a TV carrier, but its one of the biggest distributors of right-wing talk radio in the country — and yet you rarely hear about Premiere Networks. That's despite hosts like Rush Limbaugh regularly misusing the platform to spread outright falsehoods or make grossly irresponsible comments.
Limbaugh did just that on Thursday when he appeared to endorse political violence one day after the Capitol Hill riot. "There's a lot of people calling for the end of violence," he said on his radio show. "There's a lot of conservatives on social media who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable — regardless of the circumstances. I am glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual Tea Party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn't feel that way."
So I asked a spokesperson for Premiere Networks, the company that distributes Limbaugh's show, if the company had any comment. Is it OK with its top host appearing to endorse political violence, especially in the wake of at least five dying in our nation's capital as a result of it? The spokesperson did not reply...
Tucker Carlson: From Twitter to CNN, the left is coming for your speech
The crackdown on civil liberties is here, it is unprecedented, and it will have consequences
We told you Thursday that the crackdown on America's civil liberties is coming, and it didn't take long to arrive. It is unprecedented and it will have consequences.
Days after Donald Trump
called for breaking up the Big Tech monopolies in order to preserve democracy, they have silenced him. Friday evening, Twitter announced that the sitting president had been banned from the platform that is his primary means of public communication. Of course, they waited until the Democratic Party took power to shut it down. Silicon Valley oligarchs are more powerful than the president of the United States, and they want you to known it.
Like most actions taken to suppress extremism, this will cause more of it.
The assault on speech accelerates, and we at "Tucker Carlson Tonight" are not immune. Friday morning, CNN announced that it is working to force the Fox News Channel off the air and run this company out of business. A number of prominent Democrats, including officeholders, support that effort. 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.
On what pretext, you may ask? On the pretext that this show and others on the channel are directly responsible for the violence at the U.S. Capitol this week. "[I]t is time," CNN announced, "that TV carriers face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories."
Here you have a news company calling for censorship, a TV network demanding that media conglomerates ban its competitors. That's terrifying, but it's also, if we're being completely honest here, kind of amusing.
You can just imagine Jeff Zucker, CNN's blustery little dwarf king, calling into his morning staff meeting Thursday, having spent a long night sitting on the tiny throne in his apartment, feet dangling just above the floor, watching Fox News and getting angrier and angrier.
By the time he reaches his minions in the CNN newsroom to deliver the day's orders, the dwarf king's fleshy face is quivering like jello and crimson with rage. "Make them stop!" he screams. "Make them stop!" The minions jolt to attention.
The first to her battle post is Brianna Keilar, a former homecoming queen from Orange County eager to prove her chops. She's not a prime-time anchor, though she'd like to be. She's still just a newsreader. She's a former co-host of a radio show on a contemporary hits station in Yakima, Wash., called "Billy, Blue and Brianna, too: The Morning Zoo." She wants to be taken seriously, and this is her chance. So she tries to remember the dwarf king's orders.
That was the main command. Then there was that stream of consciousness part, the part where the boss was breathing so heavily it was hard to make out the words. There was "White supremacy," "insurrection," "domestic terrorism," something like that.
She tries to connect the dots. It's confusing, but she's pretty sure the word "insurrection" was in there. Someone "instructed," maybe, or "acted incorrectly," something like that. No, it was definitely insurrection. So she decides to look up the word in the dictionary to see what it means.
Here's what happened next:
KEILAR: It was an insurrection. Take Merriam-Webster's word for it ... 'an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government' ... Knocking down barriers, knocking down gates, pushing police out of the way. Police would be the civil authority as described in the definition of insurrection. They broke windows and doors. They vandalized offices.
This show, Keilar explained, refused to call that obviously highly insurrectionary event an insurrection. We literally didn't use the word. I mean, seriously, who would do that? Well, if you really want to know, a White person would do that. A privileged White person, someone who -- presumably unlike her coworkers at CNN (and, in fact, the dwarf king himself) -- is both White and privileged, and therefore afflicted with something called White privilege. So much White privilege, in fact, that it blinded this person. That's the thing about white privilege. If you keep doing it, you go blind. That's what the boss said, anyway.
KEILAR: Tucker Carlson rolls his eyes at the idea of systemic racism, at White privilege, but perhaps he should roll those eyes on over to a mirror. It is entirely fantastical to think that crowds of Black or brown Americans would have been treated as the mostly White insurrectionists of the Capitol were on Wednesday.
Oh, the moral lecture from the morning zoo lady. It went on like this for an entire segment. You can look it up on the Internet. And in a way, that's the good news. With enemies like this, Fox News will be around for a long, long time.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson's remarks on the Jan. 8, 2021 edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."